Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a zombie romance movie.  I mean, more so than nearly every zombie is a zombie romance movie, because in this one it's not just "two people [fall in love/cling to each other in desperation] while zombies happen to be nearby," it's "Zombie falls in love with girl, zombie kidnaps girl, somehow that works out." That said, if you ignore the extremely problematic main storyline, it's a really good movie.

Spoilers below.

There are two kinds of zombies in Warm Bodies:  the regular dead, kind of isolated-in-self, partially conscious people who all seem like they're recovering from serious brain damage and also crave flesh.  Then there are the 'bonies,' or skeletons, zombies who are so far gone that they've torn off all their flesh and attack anything and everything with a pulse.

At first, the bonies are just a sort of weird background thing, but by the end it's clear that they need to be there to keep this movie a zombie movie, because the zombies aren't really zombies -- or, at least, they get better. The power of love starts their hearts beating again, and they start to learn how to be human.

This movie is clearly engineered from start to finish to be heartwarming -- which totally works -- and if you apply the standardized, out-of-the-box metaphorical interpretation of zombies, that they represent the mindless horde of consumers, it's extremely optimistic.

The message seems to be that empathy is the solution to some major world problems.  In this case, a zombie eats some dude's brain, and thereby experiences that guy's life.  In doing so, he comes to understand his experiences, but also comes to empathize with his ex-girlfriend, who he kidnaps and takes to his plane-full-of-junk.

(He acts like he's saving her life, but really, he could have just helped her hide when he and his buddies all left, and Julie would have gotten out of there just like her friend, hiding under a nearby desk, did.)

Then, other zombies see him acting weirdly, and instead of murdering him for being different, one of them reaches out in a gesture of friendship to try and understand.  That understanding and empathy spreads, and shortly thereafter all the zombies start remembering what being a human being is.

Given that interpretation, I'm not really sure who the survivors are supposed to be.  I'd say that they're the rich people ruling over the zombified poor, but there are slums on the inside of the wall.  And they don't seem to be the handful of remaining super-special-people who never lost their humanity, because the leader of the survivors, Julie's dad, is the most hardcore-anti-empathy person not skeletonized.

Maybe I'll see more if I get to see this movie again, but right now it seems like the kind of movie that feels really deep and moving, but doesn't have much more going on under the surface.  But it's funny and it's self-aware and it's an earnestly well-done fresh take on zombies (heh, fresh zombies) so if you're looking for a fun movie to go and see, I recommend it.

And if you see any underlying themes or philosophical puzzles that look like they'll pan out into something deep, please comment.