If you have seen any of the trailers for Warm Bodies, you know exactly what you’re getting in for. In fact, here’s a trailer now:
That's pretty much it right there, the whole story. There are no spoilers, the trailer pretty much tells you everything that happened and how it ends.
It’s a romantic comedy with a zombie! And corny as that sounds, it works. Not that it’s not corny, but it’s corny in a very fun, cheesy way. It is silly, it’s happily silly, it’s funnily silly. And the acting passes it off really well – I’m impressed particularly by Nicholas Hault managing to be rigid and monotone and still carrying lots of emotional expression (this contrasts the film very well with Twilight, with which it’s often compared, where the actors are rigid and monotone for no good reason and fail to express any emotion).
The plot is cute, in a clichéd kind of way. It’s a new concept, zombies in love, but don’t think the new concept makes the story original. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, their love is so precious that it saves the entire world. It’s not original, but as far as clichéd love stories go, it’s one of the better told, better acted and better presented one. It’s also quite nice to see a dystopian that’s so up beat, so much fun and actually has a happily ever after (not a “oh we just survived, but legitimate hope and going forwards).
It’s also funny, sometimes hilariously so. R’s internal monologue was immensely fun and often made me cackle. It really worked.
As a concept and a fun film, it did work. I didn’t mind watching it, I probably wouldn’t see it out, but then, I don’t see out romcoms anyway.
It wasn’t free of problematic elements – their relationship was, of course, built on R kidnapping Julie in the first instance and then lying to her about when it was safe to return. Julie isn’t very realised, we have some insights into her character through Perry’s memories, but largely she was a prize and a goal more than a person. I can’t say I’m running out of the door eager to buy tickets for a repeat viewing of “isn’t straight, white love brilliant!” either. I’ve seen that movie – a bazillion times.
There are some POC zombies, and Julie’s best friend and honest, sacrificing cohort is also Black, but that’s about it for inclusion – but that’s about it for characters as well.
And that’s a problem. Because the book is a wonderful, complex and deep book about the nature of life and survival and hope and creativity and individuality and so much more. The film is “funny story about cute straight white kids in love – yaaaay love.” I mean it was a nice film for its type and I don’t think I’ve seen a better “funny story about straight white kids in love” out there. I’d even re-watch it without any complaint (but I wouldn’t go buy another cinema ticket). I'm trying REALLY hard not to be one of those "how could you do this to my BOOK?! HOW VERY DARE YOU?!" people, but this is certainly a film you have to divorce from its source material.