Daniel W. Drezner

Brad Pitt just depressed the living hell out of me about World War Z

Brad Pitt just depressed the living hell out of me about World War Z

So the big push for World War Z is clearly afoot.  The second trailer for the film was released a week ago: 


So this trailer isn’t all that different from the first trailer, which means my qualms about the film version of Max Brooks’ masterpiece remain.  Still, that airplane sequence at the end was well executed, and offers some promise. 

But then we get to the Entertainment Weekly cover story — out today — about the long, laborious process of getting World War Z from page to screen.  It’s a good article that details the myriad screenwriters involved, the location difficulties, and the reshoots.  One definitely gets the sense of how Brad Pitt warmed to the subject matter over time.  Hell, in the EW article he referenced All The President’s Men as his template for the story — which, if you’ve read World War Z, you know isn’t the craziest comparison. 

Which is great, until we get to this long quote from Pitt at the end of the story explaining how the final version of the movie has changed from his original conception: 

At the time, I was really interested in a more political film, using the zombie trope as a kind of Trojan horse for asking, ‘What would happen to sociopolitical lines if there was a pandemic like this? Who would be on top? Who would be the powerful countries and who would be the most vulnerable?

We wanted to really explore that, but it was just too much. We got bogged down in it; it was too much to explain. It gutted the fun of what these films are meant to be.

Excuse me, I need to go do this for a while:


Here’s the thing — the very reason that World War Z the book is better than every other zombie novel ever written is the global scope and the reasonably realistic take on the politics of a zombie apocalypse.  There is action galore in the book, but there’s something more as well.  The politics that "bogged down" the movie?  That is the fun!  

Will I go see World War Z?  Probably out of sheer professional obligation.  But let’s be clear — based on the evidence to date, the odds seem very likely that the movie version of World War Z will be a garden-variety big-budget disaster flick.  It’s not gonna be great. 

While Pitt plans a trilogy of films, methinks this World War Z would have worked even better as a miniseries  for HBO or FX.  Too bad.  Should some shameless huckster desire to procure the film version of Theories of International Politics and Zombies — which is all about the politics — then they should contact Princeton University Press

Am I missing anything?