New kind of zombie in Brad Pitt’s horror flick

Paramount Pictures

The trailer for “World War Z” exposes viewers to the constant paranoia and ongoing pandemonium of a world engulfed in a maddening war against zombie hordes. These swarms flooding the screen are unlike anything audiences have witnessed before, as Brad Pitt fights them with what puny defenses humanity has left at its disposal. The trailer is frantic, dramatic and eye-catching, but it raises the question of whether fans will accept this new type of zombie menace.

The post-apocalyptic novel by Max Brooks on which the movie is based has become surprisingly popular since its release in 2006 and seemingly lends itself to an epic adaptation on the big screen. The book is influenced by Studs Terkel’s World War II oral narrative “The Good War” in its anecdotal and multi-story format, taking a singular event and telling it from the perspective of a number of characters. The film does not seem to adhere to the narrative at all in this regard, following only Pitt’s character and a supporting ensemble. However, the individual tales of the book could still be portrayed through the lens of Pitt’s character.

Most of the novel’s strength derives from its striking realism even while portraying a zombie apocalypse. “World War Z” includes extensive background research on the science, politics, economy, military and other aspects of such a scenario, with the hope that it will allow the adaptation to revolutionize the zombie film genre.

One point of concern is not the medium but the director. Based on the trailer, it is questionable whether Marc Forster will follow the novel’s emotional core and acute attention to character, as he did with another book-to-film adaptation, “The Kite Runner.” Perhaps Forster will take the flashy and violent approach, as he did in “Machine Gun Preacher” and “Quantum of Solace.”

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Ultimately, anxious audiences can do nothing but remain cautiously optimistic in their hope that the film will be the poignant and entertaining adaptation they deserve.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 6 print edition. Nikolas Reda-Castelao is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]

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