THE FOUR QUESTIONS
Who is your main character? – Zombie R.
What is he trying to accomplish? – Physical – Not get killed either by the humans or the even worse zombies, the Bonies. Emotional – Fall in love with Julie. Spiritual – Relearn what it means to be connected to people
Who’s trying to stop him? – The humans who (rightly) fear the zombies.
What happens if he fails? – He will die, and Julie’s encampment will be overrun by the Bonies.
THE FOUR ARCHETYPES
Orphan – R is dead…or undead if you prefer. He spends his days wandering around, although he does seem to have a friend “M”. Regardless, he is cut off from all meaningful personal connections.
Wanderer – R rescues Julie and keeps her safe from the other zombies while being unable to let her leave for emotional reasons. We see that his heart has started beating again and he’s becoming human.
Warrior – R sets out to get Julie safely back to her encampment, all the while coping with his growing humanity.
Martyr – R, M, and all of the zombies who are now becoming more human are willing to fight the Bonies to save the humans.
AND, IN THE END…
The film has a very likeable cast and a great concept (Beauty & the Beast and/or Romeo and Juliet but with zombies!) but it totally messes with the core truth of the zombie universe, that is that zombies don’t have emotions. Sure, that’s what the concept is about — zombies rediscovering emotions — however our star zombies R and M are already conversational and even somewhat self-reflective. When we see R’s “home” for the first time (he lives in an abandoned plane at the airport) it’s filled with flotsam and jetsam of normal human life that he’s collected. He even listens to music that he selects, going so far as carefully, albeit weakly, blowing dust off the vinyl records that he loves because they have better sound.
R and M are therefore zombies, but played as if they were recovering from some traumatic head injury. Humanity is there and not even that far below the surface. I would have preferred, and indeed thought I was going to see, a movie that took a zombie all the way from classic zombie to full human. The fix would have been to start R off as more typical; the type of zombie we all know and love to fear. He see’s Julie, his heart begins to beat, and then let’s see him reconnect with his humanity.
Warm Bodies understands very well that when you have a main character living under a curse, love is the cure. I would have preferred to see my main character far more cursed at the start. When the zombie hero of a movie looks better than most of the living people you know, something’s wrong.
– Jeffrey Alan Schechter