Thoughts on World War Z:
WWZ was enjoyable but could have been so much better. Some of the mistakes in the story are obvious. The two biggest occur at the beginning and at the end. The beginning doesn’t endear the main character to us. Gerry Lane is neither intriguing nor empathetic. When we finally get information about Gerry’s back-story, it’s simply generic: He’s an UN employee with experience in troubled parts of the world. Gerry’s best attribute is that he’s played by Brad Pitt; other than that, the character is somewhat hollow. As for the ending, it was okay but did not come close to the spectacular action extravaganzas movie audiences have come to expect from summer movies. The World War Z rewrite that follows addresses the beginning and the ending.
World War Z Rewrite:
After the Lane family is rescued and brought aboard the aircraft carrier, we learn that Gerry has experience with zombies. There was an event in a remote part of an Asian jungle with an isolated tribe eight years ago. Gerry was there with a small UN envoy to investigate rumors of genocide against the tribe committed by poachers. During the investigation, Gerry witnessed a contagion outbreak that affected the dead. The affected group was small but Gerry’s team barely managed to contain it. No one had seen anything like it before. As everyone involved with containing the outbreak was rational, no one used the word zombie in any of the reports. The phrase “infected bodies” was used instead. The reports were withheld from the public and filed away. (Gerry’s back-story would get at least five minutes of movie time) When the outbreak occurs in the present, Gerry is the go to guy. He and a team personally selected by him return to that jungle. Two of the team members were with Gerry during first outbreak eight years ago. (Quickly demonstrate each team member’s attribute, e.g., the tough guy, the joker, the brain, the cynic etc.) Gerry quickly learns that this jungle is not the origin of the contagion. (At this point in the story the standard parlor game set up has been established. Supporting characters will eventually start dropping like flies—check Alien, Clue, Predator, Aliens, etc.)
Through his investigation that takes him around the world he learns that other people have had experience with zombies in the past too but nothing on the scale of the current outbreak, and he learns of a lead in India—just like in the actually movie. The problem is that the entire sub-continent has been lost to the outbreak.
Gerry and his team go into India to find the clue that might lead to the origins of the outbreak. They will be facing over a billion zombies in India. They go in on a Mil Mi 26 provided by the Russian military. They’re equipped with a couple of light armored vehicles armed with 30mm cannons. (This is the “war” part of World War Z) They land on an airfield and battle their way through the streets of an Indian city into a jungle, fighting zombies at every turn. They find the clue. But during the escape obstacles ensue, mainly of the zombie type, and they get trapped in India. Something goes wrong with the Mil Mi 26; it crashes or is overrun by the dead or the Russians just abort the mission. Gerry’s team is running low on ammo as they fend off the never ending flood of zombies. They get a break, a life line from the nearby Rajasthan atomic plant. They see the plant’s tower lights. They retreat to the plant, followed by hundreds of thousands of zombies. The plant’s engineers have jerry-rigged the plant’s perimeter with an electric fence using the reactor’s power. The fence vaporizes anything that touches it. It keeps the zombies out but is placing a huge demand on the plants cooling system. The engineers have directed the cooling system from the reactor to the perimeter to keep it from melting (This is awful fake science). The plant is in danger of going into meltdown. The UN is trying to get an aircraft that can evacuate Gerry, the remaining members of his team and the engineers. Eventually, the fence starts to melt as the never ending flow of zombies throw themselves at it. Ultimately, the zombies breach the barrier, the plant goes into meltdown, and Gerry and the rest seemed trapped. A couple of characters make the ultimate sacrifice so that Gerry and the other might survive. When all seems lost a V-22 arrives and carries Gerry and the other away with the clue that might save humanity.
They go in against overwhelming odds. Get what they need but are unable to escape. Retreating to the nuclear power plant provides an opportunity for the proceedings to adapt a claustrophobic atmosphere. Maybe when Gerry and his team enter the plant’s gates a few zombies manage to get in too. Most are gunned down but a few disappear into the plant. Toward the end when Gerry and the engineers are trying to prevent the meltdown and trying to escape one or two of these zombies would pop up when least expected, killing characters and ruining plans.