Every so often, a movie with a plot that has the germ of a good idea comes around. What makes a movie of this type for me is the ultimate execution of that good idea.
Movies about zombies have been around almost as long as the concept. Very few of them take the view that zombies can be thoughtful, introspective or compassionate. That’s the novel idea that comes to life, as it were, in Warm Bodies.
Trapped in his miserable undead existence, R (Nicholas Hoult) wanders idly around a decaying airport wondering why he can’t die, staring blankly at his fellow plague victims and looking for that most zombie of delicacies, the brains of the living. At the movie’s outset, the premise, circumstances and narrative surrounding zombiedom are charming and funny. Doing what zombies do, they decide to shamble as a horde looking for human flesh. Encountering an armed cadre of the living rummaging through an 8-year-closed pharmacy looking for medicine, the horde attacks and decimates the group, but R decides he’d like a girlfriend and in the end saves Julie (Teresa Palmer). He takes her back to his airplane and tries to woo her in his hilariously quirky zombie way.
Right about here, the movie starts to break down. What began as a great idea with potential to give the movie a life of its own (please forgive the continuous references to life in a movie about the dead), quickly devolves into a series of clichés and overt feel-good symbolism. There’s a clumsy attempt at zombifying a classic scene from Romeo and Juliet, along with other over-the-top pop culture references that would give away too much of the story if I revealed them here.
The worst part happens at the end, though, when the novelty is completely thrown away in favor of producing a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy ending. All that I hoped this movie would turn out to be from its fine start was abandoned by the end, and the discerning movie viewer will be left with nothing of value to take away.
If you go to see this film, enjoy the brilliance of it while it lasts because the end simply leaves you flat.