"World War Z: The Art of the Film" Book Review
Written by Robert Gold
Published by Titan Books
2013, 160 pages, Reference
Book released on June 18th, 2013
Taken at face value, World War Z: The Art of the Film, is a beautiful collection of concept art, production stills, storyboards and images of computer modeling. The book is divided into twelve sections that follow the action chronologically and offer glimpses of several key set-pieces from the final film. There is a nice section devoted to the elaborate design work that went into creating hundreds of zombies with individual characteristics. Also on hand is a look at the process of filming effects sequences on a green screen set and a final glimpse at the tools assembled for fighting zombies.
In addition to the generous assortment of full color artwork by Seth Engstrom, Kim Frederickson and Robbie Consing, the book includes a copy of the screenplay written by Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof. Instead of simply presenting this document at either the front or end of the gallery, the text is interwoven throughout the entire piece. This is at times distracting in that the artwork is either reduced in size to accommodate the print or it occasionally overlaps making the words difficult to read. While both aspects fight for primary attention, neither is fully realized and the book begins to show its weaknesses.
Again, on the surface this is a fine edition that is accurately represented by the title, but the inclusion of the screenplay introduces distracting thoughts of what might have been. The script was current at the time of this publication, but changed again before the film was complete. The differences are minor but call attention to the heavily publicized reports of the troubled production that led to the final third of the material being re-written and re-shot. It would have been interesting to have the option of reading either the original script or seeing a hybrid that highlighted the changes along the way to reaching a final draft. This is relevant in that the material was filmed and completed before being replaced, so the artwork for such content should be included in a deleted scenes segment. Many of the tools featured in the final section appear to be from this missing content but without supporting information.
This leads to another shortcoming: the total lack of explanation for any of the images depicted. There are random quotes from members of the cast and crew sprinkled throughout, but are done so without context. Pictures of a green screen set are nice, but how does it work? It would helpful if the quotes were placed on relevant pages and were more technical in nature. There is no need for this to be a textbook, as it is simply a showcase for the artwork, but the featured artists are not included. In fact, the only time they receive credit is in the acknowledgments section on the last page, and I assume this means these three names are the only ones who contributed.
Another book on the making of World War Z is inevitable, as is the inclusion of behind-the-scenes content on the Blu-ray release. This is a decent coffee table book that is sadly lacking in content. The worst part is the missed opportunity to discuss how the project evolved and the work that went into accommodating these changes. Casual fans of the film may find this entertaining, but anyone with either a love of filmmaking or a desire to learn anything about this particular title will have to look elsewhere.
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