World War Z: An Antidote To The 'Fanboy' Pandemic Ruling Hollywood?


There is a virus sweeping the boardrooms of film studios throughout Hollywood. It is a bitter, poisonous little blighter that sucks the joy and originality out of anything it touches. It is a self-serving, self-aware, tyrannical strain of social profiling. And it is quickly dominating the way in which films are conceived and made. It is eating away at filmmakers, and rapidly controlling the output of every major studio in modern cinema. It is known only as the €˜Fanboy€™ plague. In recent weeks, Fanboys have come under fire for their continual outcries against directors. These rabid moviegoers are baying for the blood of anyone who fails to meet their expectations of how certain characters should be €œfaithfully€ depicted on film. Some even go so far as to claim that Hollywood is €œmauling€ their favourite characters and superheroes. €˜Man of Steel€™ is the most current casualty of this. Does it really matter if Superman killed General Zod!? The question should not be, €œwhy has Zack Snyder veered away from the comic books?€ but rather, €œwhy would we want to see something on screen that we have already seen on paper?€ Film studios are obviously very keen to get the most out of pre-existing markets. Making a film about Clark Kent is going to attract the attention of millions of fans before a single poster is put out. Warner Brothers is guaranteed millions of dollars on a return for their investment in the film, before a single page of the script has been written. Love it or loathe it, commercial filmmaking is about selling cinema tickets and Blurays and toys and Burger King tie-in meals. So when you know a market for it already exists, there is, of course, a certain penchant for appeasing those people. The result of this, however, is that these fans seem to forget that Kal-El is not their creation. The Kryptonian superhero they know and love is a manifestation they have crafted for themselves over years of direct exposure to various comics. No one director will ever create the €˜ultimate€™ film version of Superman, because at a base level, what works in one medium does not always work in another. man-of-steel-flag €˜World War Z€™ is a prime example of how source material can be scanned and chopped up by filmmakers, and then €˜Frankensteined€™ into a completely different end product; with complete disregard of what existing fans want or expect. Because of this, I believe that the film version of €˜World War Z€™ works as a companion piece to the novel, rather than a literal projection of it. I am a big fan of Max Brooks€™ novel, and I was, like most fans, apprehensive about what €˜World War Z€™ would look like on film. But then something became very apparent to me. The €˜World War Z€™ being filmed is funnelled through the prism of its screenwriters and director. Brad Pitt€™s Gerry Lane is a massive departure from Max Brooks€™ €˜narrator€™; although both have links with the UN, they are very different characters. Brooks€™ novel is a series of interviews set 10-years after the zombie apocalypse; Marc Forster€™s film takes place during the early outbreaks of the virus. €˜World War Z€™ the film is an action drama that takes place in five different cities, revolving around one character€™s journey. Whilst €˜World War Z€™ the book, is an oral account of various characters and their individual anecdotes of specific moments during the zombie war. There is even a complete re-invention of €˜patient zero€™, relocating them to Taiwan; although it has been suggested that this may have been more about securing box office releases in China, than for any creative purpose. For anyone who enjoyed the book and envisioned a sweeping ensemble piece, then there is no doubt that the film could disappoint. However, might I suggest that things are better this way? Yes, I would love to have seen Sardar Khan€™s epic experience in India, or the battle at Yonkers; but I have already done so, in my mind. And this is the crux. Just because something lends itself to a visual medium, it does not mean there has to be a direct conversion from page to screen. In fact, Max Brooks€™ words are meant to be filtered through our imaginations €“ if not, he would have written a script and not a book. 09 World War Z Some might argue that unabridged audiobooks are a good reflection on their source material. But then, to those people, I say, €œThat is because these are simply readings of what is written. Now shush up, and let me continue.€ So, going back to other sources; how does this work for other adaptations? Naturally, there will always be a certain amount of correlation between the pre-existing and the new interpretations of filmmakers. Superman will always come from Krypton. But his ethics, his costumes, his power source, maybe even his upbringing; should be free for tinkering. When €™50 Shades Of Grey€™ thrusts its way into multiplexes next year, does it really matter who plays the sexed-up millionaire? The Christian Grey in readers` minds will differ, even down to his tone of voice. So why not let the director decide who their ideal Christian Grey will be, and let them provide a version of that work? Whether or not a character or a book adaptation lives up to our expectations is irrelevant, it should be down to how this film functions as a singular work of entertainment. Similarly, just because Peter Jackson has created new characters and introduced outside narratives into his telling of €˜The Hobbit€™, it does not mean €˜Fanboys€™ get to tear him a €˜new one€™ for tampering with their beloved book. Whatever Peter Jackson decides is relevant for his interpretation of Tolkien€™s novel, is what we should be watching. There is no use lamenting or boohooing, we simply need to watch and decide, €œDid I enjoy this film on its own merits?€ abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter-horse There is of course, no denying that whenever we approach something that is an adaptation of something we enjoy, then we hope that somehow we will get to see that on screen. Personally, I was really bummed out by €˜Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter€™ because I had an idealistic set of things that I wanted to see on the big screen. But I hated it not because it failed to meet my expectations, but rather that it was just genuinely a terrible movie. The Lizard of Marc Webbs €˜The Amazing Spider-Man€™ looked nothing like what I had come to expect. However, I really enjoyed Rhys Ifans€™ performance, and actually preferred this version of Spider-Man to Sam Raimi€™s. I am not a massive Lee Child fan, but I felt that Tom Cruise€™s Jack Reacher was an interesting interpretation of the character. And €˜Hannibal€™ the TV show, is all the better for its free and easy approach to the foundations laid before it. €˜World War Z€™ is by no means a perfect film. It has plot holes a plenty, and suffers from some serious lags in place. However, it works as a piece of light amusement. I went to the cinema wanting to be entertained, and I was. This film may have been nothing like what I saw in my mind when I read the book, but if it wasn€™t for the inspiration of Max Brooks€™ words in the first instance, then this film might never have been made. And ultimately, that is what this is about. There may be four different film versions of Batman, and the new film adaptation of Superman might be taking things in a new and different direction to others, but that is because these are not exactly the same ones we read about in the comic books. These are new versions, specifically created for the medium of film, and translated by those whom we trust to immerse us in a new world and entertain us for 2 hours. That is why they always say, €œinspired by...€ or €œbased on...€. world war z third act So when the €˜Fanboys€™ rear up and try to defend their beloved characters from the Hollywood machine, I have some advice for all involved. For the studio executives, I say; €œhire a talented director €“ an interested director €“ and let them do their thing.€ For the original authors I say, €œif you cannot let another person alter your work, then don€™t sell it off.€ And for the €˜Fanboy€™ I say; €œIf you don€™t like what you see on screen, then stick with what you do like. Use the one thing that all art forms have been created to inspire; your imagination. Anyway, believe it or not, this film wasn€™t made solely for you.€ Who knows, at the very least these films might even encourage people to seek out the original works afterwards; which is probably why Vue cinemas were giving away free audiobooks of €˜World War Z€™ with every cinema ticket they sold. Genius!
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Part critic-part film maker, I have been living and breathing film ever since seeing 'Superman' at the tender age of five. Never one to mince my words, I believe in the honest and emotional reaction to film, rather than being arty or self important just for cred. Despite this, you will always hear me say the same thing - "its all opinion, so watch it and make your own." Follow me @iamBradWilliams