I hadn’t read World War Z by the time the trailer for the Brad Pitt-Mireille Enos movie came out, but after I finished it this morning, it was clear what a travesty this adaptation seems poised to be. It would be impossible to adapt the oral history as a single, coherent narrative. But the book seems like it would lend itself to a miniseries that could float between different perspectives, or perhaps even more fittingly, a series of movies like the Red Riding trilogy, which explored the long-running investigation into a Yorkshire serial killer. Here are the six sections of World War Z that struck me as the most likely candidates for stand-alone films:
Section: Kondo Tatsumi and Tomonaga Ijiro
Director: Stephen Chow
Why It Would Be Great: An otaku and a blind gardener take Japan back from the zombies? It would be one of the greatest genre mashups since Kung Fu Hustle, not to mention a pair of fantastic roles for Asian men. And while Chow is from Hong Kong, rather than Japan, his touch with Hustle was absolutely delightful. I’d love to see him have a shot at pitting two unlikely heroes against a mob of incredibly scary antagonists, and to pair it with some gorgeous landscape cinematography.
Section: Todd Wainio
Director: Ed Zwick
Why It Would Be Great: As he proved in Glory, the man can do a battle sequence. And it would be exciting to see a filmmaker with his kind of conscience take on the utter failure of the American military, and its attempt to recover from it, strategically and psychologically, and to turn the tide. Also, if Nicholas Brody’s going to get killed in the finale of Homeland this weekend, Damian Lewis is going to have some time on his hands. I’d love to see him take on this soldier’s role, particularly for the chance to see him get paired up with an honest-to-God, badass battle nun, who is Wainio’s partner in the reformed military.
Section: Admiral Xu Zhicai
Director: Shawn Ryan
Why It Would Be Great: Last Resort may be toast, but Ryan was on to something interesting with his story about a submarine crew gone rogue after it was given orders to fire a nuclear weapon on Pakistan. I’d love to see him take a shot at capturing the story of a Chinese submarine crew who smuggled their families on board and created a survivable society on board their ship as they fled from the zombie apocalypse consuming their country. Instead of deciding not to fire their nuclear weapons, as is the case in Last Resort, this story ends with the agonizing choice to nuke a bunker full of hardline Chinese leadership. It’s a harrowing adventure, but a deeply creative one, and it would avoid some of the pitfalls Ryan ran into when he tried to build out not just a sub crew but the population of an island in his ABC show.
Section: Xolelwa Azania
Director: Connie Field
Why It Would Be Great: Field directed Have You Heard From Johannesburg?, the amazing documentary series about the end of apartheid. While most of the people I recommend to direct these movies are feature directors, it would be fascinating to see Field go fictional and tackle South Africa’s decision to implement the Redeker Plan, an effort to save a core of South Africa by abandoning some of the population and the country’s land to the zombie infestation. As a story about racial reconciliation despite the echoes of apartheid in the plan, this could be a fascinating, subtle movie.
Section: Christina Eliopolis
Director: Patty Jenkins
Why It Would Be Great: This story of an Air Force pilot bailed out in the middle of infested zombie territory, staying alive with a voice on the radio as her only guide, could be an incredible showcase for a young female action star, maybe Gina Carano. And Jenkins knows a thing or two about directing a woman under extreme duress. This could be a simple, stripped-down, incredibly scary movie that wouldn’t even need to showcase a lot of zombies to be terrifying.
Section: Breckinridge Scott
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Why It Would Be Great: In Contagion, Soderbergh featured a repellant blogger, played by Jude Law, who spread the news of a false cure for a global pandemic, and was later found to be in the pay of a pharmaceutical company which hoped to spike sales of herbal remedies. I’d love to see him put this kind of scenario at the center of a film, instead of addressing it as one of many threads in a single movie. He’d have so much fun tearing into a figure like Scott, and portraying the luxury he lives in as a kind of suffocating rot.