Like the best of the animated giant's works, the zombies within Bodies make up a universe that feels fully lived in and one that is unique on the cinematic landscape. Featuring zombies that eat, not just to survive, but to experience the memories of those they have killed (the closest thing that zombies can get to dreaming), this is a film of invention. While hosting all the cliches of the genre which will have the diehards laughing such as the giant group of zombies lumbering slowly through a deserted post apocalyptic city or zombies with an insatiable appetite for brains, the film is never afraid to make fun of those conventions in the next breath. The use of narration is especially effective here, lending insight to characters that are practically mute, while at the same time allowing the film to break the fourth wall, on several occasions speaking directly to the viewers and establishing a sense of sarcasm that is the perfect for the ultimate theme that the filmmakers seem to be going after.
While many reviews so far have praised the film for being a very different retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (with a zombie named “R” and a girl named “Julie” alongside the star-crossed lover angle it's kind of hard not to see the connection), the archetype that seems to be more appropriate as a descriptor is that of beauty and the beast or even king kong. Although there is certainly the angle of a doomed romance, this is not so much love at first sight as much as unrequited love desperately trying to become a conversation instead of a monologue. In that way then, this is a film that while certainly going after a niche audience, has a lot to say to a much wider group. The zombies are not necessarily just the walking dead in this film, but also a metaphor for the lonely and the broken in today's world. When R initially catches sight of Julie, causing his heart to beat for the first time in years, it is a similar feeling to what one senses when the pang of love hits again after so many years of depression.
Going back to Pixar for a moment Warm Bodies like the animators behind Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, and Up is at its absolute best when it moves away from its clever asides (no matter how funny they may be) and focuses its efforts on crystal clear and beautifully simple imagery. In a film full of stabbings, gunshots, and a host of more clever kills it is not the action that causes one to hold their breath, but rather the beauty and intimacy behind two people holding hands for the first time, connecting in a powerful way, and defying the expectations of those around them.
While there are certainly silly moments to be had in Warm Bodies as well as a host of zombie action sequences that seem shoehorned in to try and make the film more accessible, this is perhaps more importantly an intriguing parable of where we so often are as a society. Like the zombies we may have conversations with those around us that ultimately mean nothing, we move around, eat, and repeat the process again on a daily basis, but like R we are also constantly looking for that which makes the world a more meaningful place. Whether that be in the moments were R turns on a record player or tries to learn to drive or indeed when he meets his soulmate, it is in the moments that shatter the mundanity, in which the film moves from standard genre fare to something far more exciting and different.
Conclusion: Full of great performances, hilarious dialog and a soul not often found in genre efforts like this Warm Bodies is a brisk and enjoyable romance. While it struggles in its more action heavy segments, the film is a joy in pretty much every other section and should become a new staple in every zombie lover's diet.