Several months ago I saw a trailer for a movie I thought looked like it could be fun.  More recently trailers for it have bordered on over exposure.  No, not “Beautiful Creatures,” that looks dull and cliché.  I mean a new take on the classically American Zombie Apocalypse movie, “Warm Bodies.”WarmBodies

I wasn’t surprised, but was pleased by this film.  It is, for the first act, narrated by a victim of the zombie plague.  The insight and perspective is comedic, but not sarcastic.  Nor is it overly reflective to evoke some sort of melodramatic empathy from throngs of dim witted teenage girls who think getting chosen by a vampire to be his “one true love” might be a good thing instead of an invitation to an eternity of horrific acts.  Through the walking corpse lead, we learn the film makers’ take on old standards like transmission of the plague by bite and why they eat brains.  “The brains are the best part, I get to [experience his] memories, remind me of what it was like to be alive.”

The cast isn’t quite a group of unknowns, with mid-tier actors like Rob Corddry and Dave Franco and a veteran John Malkovich, but the principal characters are played by people who haven’t been over exposed, yet.  The humans (except for Malkovich) tread a line of wanting to have some kind of normal life amidst living in a survivor colony and avoiding being turned into walking corpses themselves.  The corpses (the word “zombie” is never actually spoken in the film) act, believably, like walking, mostly intact, corpses driven by an insatiable hunger for live prey.  Yet, the story centers on the corpses rather than the “survivors,” so those actors are saddled with being just alive enough to evoke sympathy and be seen as the victims, rather than the villains, of the apocalypse.  They do an excellent job.

Malkovich has to play the unrelenting “Colonel” leading the survivor colony.  He is steadfastly determined to assure continued survival by eradication of the corpses and the more vile “skeletons” or “boneys.”  He’s almost typecast.  My pet peeve for any movie involving military or paramilitary forces is the abject incompetence with which they act.  The survivors of Warm Bodies are not incompetent.  Every one of them has “hero” level shooting skills, and the gate guards don’t let even the Colonel’s daughter into the colony just because she says “I’m fine, let me in”—they scan her with a magic zombie sickness detector first.

The story doesn’t really have much in the way of twists, but it really doesn’t need them.  Pretty quickly you’ll see some specifics of the plot are drawn from classic literature.  I just envision the author was sitting with friends pitching the story he wanted to write, when he took another hit off of their shared “cigarette” and declared, “dudes I just had the best idea ever.  In this one,” he pauses for dramatic effect and adds, “Romeo is a zombie.”