I'm finally ready to jump into this discussion!
I saw it last weekend too, the day after I finished the book. Even before I went I was pretty much convinced there was no way it would live up to the book, which is understandable, as it is a very expansive story that would be difficult to commit to film. But I walked out wondering why the hell they even bothered in the first place.
They should have just called it 28 Days Later III because it had a hell of a lot more common with that series than pretty much anything in the book. Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water!
I mean, aside from 1 character's name and brief snippets of the conversation in Israel, this movie was literally unrecognizable as far as its source material.
I don't mean this as a scathing review either. It wasn't all that bad of a movie on its own. I just don't see the point of Brad Pitt waging a bidding war with Leo DiCaprrio over the film rights to then turn around and throw EVERY good thing about that book out the window and create some contrived script that had NOTHING from the book left in it.
First of all, they ruined the zombies. I HATE fast zombies. More contrived Hollywood BS. They don't have to be hyperactive killing machines to be scary, guys!
Second of all, it would have been less of a reach to have simply cast Pitt as the guy collecting all the oral histories, recalling them after the fact. They didn't need all that clutter of a backstory. The rest of the plot was too limited by that.
Third of all, Battle of Yonkers, Chinese sub, Patient Zero, Lobos, etc - you couldn't even pick ONE of the most interesting stories and integrate it?
I like Brad Pitt generally speaking but man, he just effed this one all up I think. It would have worked much better as a 10-12 episode HBO mini-series, or even a full blown series.
It's one thing to adapt something and do it badly, but even worse to adapt something which bears no resemblance to the story it purports to be based on. Ugh.
Maybe Part II will get things back on track, but they've already diverged badly with that whole speedburner zombie motif.