Now that Juan Antonio Boyega is reportedly out of the post-apocalyptic picture for the follow-up to Marc Forster’s “World War Z” adaptation — and I mean “adaptation” in the very loosest sense of the word — the director’s chair is again vacant for movie two.
But someone’s bound to claim it, right? Sure, was a famously plagued production: the entire third act had to be re-written, re-shot and re-edited in post; Matthew Fox’s scenes were all but completely nixed — sorry Charlie; and the budget skyrocketed to unheard of proportions by the end of it.
But the movie ended up making a little money and hoards of people were into its contribution to the zombie section of the zeitgeist. Hell, even some of us who are/were/always will be obsessed with Max Brooks’ original literary vision of the story were kinda OK with it because, hey, whatever that was, it barely had anything to do with our favorite book (which means it didn’t ruin the story we all know and love, so small victory).
The sequel is still scheduled to hit theaters on June 9, 2017, so chances are Paramount Pictures’ll be announcing JAB’s replacement the very near future.
Whoever accepts the gig, I’d like to borrow your ear (well, eye) for just a minute on behalf of the Max Brooks faithful.
See, once upon a time, the idea of a “World War Z” adaptation — an actual one — was pretty f–king exciting for us.
Brooks’ book wasn’t just some yawn, more braaaains-eating and explosions kind of property. This was a thoroughly researched, meticulously inclusive and terrifyingly legit go at what it might really look like if there ever was a zombie apocalypse — taking us from where Patient Zero was first discovered to the clean-up crew laying waste to the last bit of frozen corpses which were reanimating just to be destroyed (and everywhere in between).
Sure, “Fear The Walking Dead” and its webisodes are doing a fairly good job of filling in the beginning blanks with their own ideas of what the spread of infestation would look like — and more importantly, how quickly the modern world would become batsh-t as a result.
But “Z” is/was unique in that it uses a pseudo-historical lens to flesh out The 5 W’s of the “War.” And even though these were all survivor accounts and we knew everyone would get out of their impossible situations somehow, each and every narrative was absolutely spine-tingling, even on repeat readings.
I, for one, would still love to watch a cinematic adaptation of Max Brooks’ “World War Z.” And I haven’t given up hope of that just yet, so if your new sequel aims to give me that this time around, go ahead and take my money.
But that means you’ll have to go at this an entirely different way than movie one did. We’re talking about fleshing out the kinda political corruption that could actually lend itself to a faux pharmaceutical that sold millions but cured none, showing how a pilot might only survive being stranded in the walker-filled wilderness because of a very visceral hallucination, admitting that the people of this era are going to be totally f–ked up and possibly even feral.
It’s too late to change the fact that “WWZ” movie zombies have the ability to lap cheetahs and/or simply using the seatbelt can help Brad Pitt survive a freaking plane crash (seriously, though, what *was* that?), but what you can do is focus more on the buffet of characters and developmental backstories available here. Take it forward in time and give us the mental meat and bones of this story now that you have everyone’s attention.
Show us the submariners being emotionally tortured by ocean floor zeds scratching on the sides; give us the blind gardener who survives with only a shovel; float the idea of families making camp in Canada and having to do (and eat) whatever it takes to survive in the bitter cold. Show us how a group of soldiers discovered a formation that could actually work to end the war in their favor. Give us the scope of this story instead of focusing on Brad Pitt’s escape from Point A and Point B. The subscripts write themselves, really.
But, listen, if you don’t want to really stick to the literature this time either, that’s fine too. Just do us a favor and pretend the book basis never existed. Do your own endless chase movie thing again just like with the first, keeping the Venn Diagram intersect ratio to “in title only” exactly the way it is right now, and we’ll be totally cool. We’ll even watch. But don’t butcher the book by putting in some parts and changing the others. Please oh please do not.
We’re counting on you.