Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Warm Bodies (2013)

Now here's something I don't normally do: write during Valentine's Day. Most people are all doing one of two things today, being exceptionally romantic or very hostile towards the idea of romantic things. Personally, I've never really celebrated the day short of giving a card to some family member. I have my own personal reasons for not being very productive during this time, none of which involve me being super down about being single. But, as a way of trying to fight the tide of bad that's been sweeping over us all, I've firmly decided that I would fight back and stand up this year. So, I guess it's time to talk about some month appropriate films, yes?

Cut to me pulling out a zombie movie. Because nothing says romance like the undead.

Zombies are a hard thing to pull off well. Sure, there are countless zombie films out there but finding ones that are genuinely good is a bit tricky. There are the obvious choices, like Night of the Living Dead and it's sequels (three of them, at least). Then you've got the punk classic Return of the Living Dead and the Fulci films. It's when we approach the modern day that we notice a bigger trend towards things not being great. Movies like World War Z or the Resident Evil series just toss us into action movies and want us to accept them. For my money though, I think Warm Bodies is actually one of the better zombie movies to come out in the last decade.

"He likes Warm Bodies? GET HIM!!"
Hold on there, before you lynch me, please allow me to explain myself just a tiny bit. You see, I believe this is a good movie in general, with some solid performances. But as a zombie movie, it really speaks to me because it builds upon something that truly helped define the genre as interesting. I'm speaking of the concept that is the intelligent zombie, something Romero himself handled so excellently in the Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead films. It's not a trope seen too often, that of zombies becoming more than just flesh craving monsters, but I believe that it is the saving grace of the genre.

Yes, I think the movie about a dead guy in a red hoodie is a posterchild for saving the zombie genre.
Here's the thing I want to hammer home to you: a genre cannot survive on repetition. Sure, you can make the millionth film about people fighting zombies, give us so great makeup effects work, and you can toss in references to what came before. But it's still another thing we've seen before and people get bored. Innovation and evolution are necessary to moving forward. Which is why I think this movie is important. On the surface it's a movie about a zombie suddenly getting a crush on a human girl. When it came out I had people all around me griping, calling it the zombie Twilight film. First off, fuck that noise. Twilight and Warm Bodies have literally nothing in common beyond the idea that both involve monsters and love.

Does that mean that all monster love stories involving handsome men are like Twilight now?
The love story in Warm Bodies is just the catalyst for the true story, which is one of evolution. The lead, R, finds himself becoming more and more like a human because of the growing feelings he has for the young woman (Julie) he encounters. It begins an internal change in him and it begins spreading to the others who come into contact with them. Much like Bub learned to behave and grew an affection for Dr. Logan in Day of the Dead, R is a perfect example of zombies evolving to be more intelligent and fight against their own nature. Some of them do it for love like him (or another very notable zombie I will talk about another day) but others have their own thing that initiates growth. Warm Bodies is a tale about zombies learning to be what they were again and even overcoming their compulsions, perhaps becoming a stronger version of us in the end.

While also still being a story about an awkward guy falling for a girl after his friends ate her friends.
I wish there was more time spent talking about the ramifications and possibilities introduced by the end of this film, because there are a lot of possibilities. I mean, the zombie outbreak happened eight years prior to the events here, so I can only imagine that there could be something else out there. Maybe something even worse evolved from the same disease? And are the recovered zombies just becoming simple humans again or are they becoming something more, as I theorized? Imagine that there was a new strain of the disease, but they were the only ones immune to its effects. It's an interesting thought. As a love story, I do actually enjoy it. Most of it does depend much more on Hoult though, as his personality shines through much clearer, even through the whole being dead and eating people.

Which is good, since most of the movie is inner monologue.

The movie also acts as a pretty interesting commentary on society, with how the zombies are basically an allegory for homeless people. Everyone knows they're out there but we can always just feel safe in our comfy area, and if they come into our territory we can always run them out of there. It's not like they really matter, right? Yeah, maybe that's just me and my programmed "looking for meaning" sense because of so many Romero films full of social commentary, but I can't help but see it. People treat homelessness like a disease or plague. It's something to avoid, to not talk about until it's too late, or to feel bad about when you see it from afar. Seeing the undead as they sadly meander about, just trying to live what little life they have left before they ultimately fall apart and become...well, weird CGI skeleton things. It resonates with me and how I see people living o nthe streets treated.

"Maybe I should play the guitar, do some busking, you know? They might toss me a few brains."
I think the attitude from the horror community was too harsh regarding this movie and it should be given a second chance. It's not the best zombie movie, or even the best love story, but it does do something with the genre that few others are doing and I applaud that. We need something more than a cheap film trying to dickride The Walking Dead's success, something that can stand out as its own thing. For me, this movie did that from beginning to end. Of course, maybe you think my opinion is shit and that this movie is awful, which is fine too. I'm not here to force you to think my way, just dropping my perspective and opinion.I'll see you next time as I dive into another romantic type film that may or may not involve some people dying. Later days, bleeders!

"So, you're saying two guys fought over this bland girl and then a war almost happened because she got pregnant?"

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