One of the most interesting questions to be asked about zombies is what we’ve never seen before. For a conceit that’s so simple (the dead come back to eat the flesh of the living), there’s no sign of the countless iterations on zombie mythology slowing down yet.
When the ”28 Days Later” franchise recast zombies as maniacs afflicted with a ‘rage virus’ and Zack Snyder updated George Romero’s shuffling automatons to the enraged runners of the ”Dawn of the Dead” remake, it seemed zombies were almost at a tipping point.
But since then, with The Walking Dead” showcasing some of the finest writing on the screen, Nazis as zombies (Dead Snow), a comedy about zombie strippers (the imaginatively-named Zombie Strippers), a macro scale look at the undead apocalypse (World War Z), revisionist history (Abraham Lincoln: Zombie Hunter) and a hundred others, there still seems to be a million directions to go.
The movie you’ll be reminded of first of all is Colin, the ace no-budget Brit film that tells the story of the zombie Armageddon from the point of view of one of the zombies. ”Warm Bodies” takes a similar tack by being about R (so called because that’s all he can remember of his name), a member of flesh eating undead who lives in a big city with a few surviving human scavengers and ‘bonies’ – zombies so far gone they’re like animals.
R doesn’t consider himself so crass – he has to eat flesh, sure, but he lives in the wreck of an airliner where he collects trinkets, Wall.E-style, almost has conversations with his best friend (Corddry), and when he spies the beautiful Julie (Palmer) while she’s on a scouting mission with other members of the human survivors, he falls in love.
The backbone of the story is as cute as it is strong – R’s love for Julie as he helps her get back to the human stronghold does something strange to him – his heart starts beating again, colour returns to his face, and he relearns some rudimentary speech. Love literally brings the dead back to life.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the movie you want to see about such a strong idea. R’s hopeful but sardonic voiceover as a zombie is funny, but I lost a bit of patience with the rest of it. It’s a fairly plodding comedy thriller that’s not very thrilling, aiming squarely for a PG rating and devoid of any of the blood or real sense of danger of the zombie genre.
You might object and think the zombie epidemic is just a device and that it isn’t about blood and guts, and that might be fine, but the flight back to the walled city housing the last of humanity takes up too much of the running time. Whatever comedy was found in the premise of a zombie having hopes, dreams and some sentience – Warm Bodies needed more of that.
An excellent looking video and audio presentation (this latest steelbook release is the same 2160p UHD 4K transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 that’s on the 2017 4K). is accompanied by a swag of great extra features, including a plethora of featurettes – some of which I hadn’t seen previously, and commentary by the leads. The Blu-ray and digital are also packaged. Just the beautiful artwork alone, Matt Ryan Tobin, makes this a worthwhile double dip for fans (even those who the film has grown on over the years!).