I tried to read the book several months ago, and for me, it was a dud. I won't go too much into why, except to say that there wasn't a common thread or character throughout it. It was a collection of stories that read like mini episodes of Dateline. In and of itself, that's not bad, but there wasn't one common character to follow and root for, so I kept getting bored. I skimmed a lot and barely finished. (For more details, see my review.)
In the film, though, Brad Pitt's character (obviously) is the one you're rooting for throughout, which makes the story much more cohesive.
Plot: Having recently quit his job working for the state department to spend more time with his family, Jerry (Brad Pitt) is thrown into the chaos of the spreading zombie contagion. The only way to protect his family is to jump back in and tried to pinpoint patient zero, in the hopes of perhaps finding a way to counter the disease. The plot was believable and unrolled easily, with no confusion or boredom.
Dystopian World: Of course, chaos and dystopia ensue for Gerry. I thought the world building was well-done. The chaos in the cities, especially the Jerusalem scene was just so stinkin' intense, it was hard to look away from the screen. There was also a lot of talk about how it doesn't really zero in on a zombie, but I don't think that's a very fair critique. You see lots of zombies and you don't feel like you didn't get a good look. There's enough zombie gore to satisfy most die-hard zombie-lovers, and you even see the quick (12 seconds, in fact) turning of human beings to undead when they're bitten. I thought that was the most disturbing image in the film.
Twists: Being an action film, there weren't really any major, shocking twists. The plot twisted and turned as it went on it's way, though, and, as I said before, I never got bored. It was a well-paced, well-told story.
Characters: Brad Pitt, whom I'm not always a huge fan of, did a great job. The characters felt, real, believable, and easy to root for. You just couldn't help it.
Overall, the film was exciting, the scenery amazing, and the story, easy to follow. I think it's a great contribution to the zombie and dystopian genres. If you haven't seen it yet, I'd highly recommend it!
Did anyone else see this film? What did you think of it?