I think this movie, for me anyway, suffered from a great trailer that increased my expectations far too high. Or perhaps suffered from my seeing the movie after a long day of banging my fingers and head against my keyboard...
And after I got home, I started thinking about a lot of writerly things. Not so much about the nuts and bolts of storytelling but about themes and world views and the elements that underlie fiction.
One expects, in certain kinds of fiction, for there to be a message. Something deeper that makes you think; perhaps something that not every casual reader recognizes or understands without the help of academic analysis... (And often academics see things in fiction that the author never intended...)
But even in most genre fiction, (which most academics dismiss), a writer's world view comes through in his or her voice and storytelling choices. Again, often many/most readers "miss" the themes or deep questions the work raises. In fact, I would argue that these themes are missed by readers more often in genre fiction, because these books are such quick, fun reads that readers don't stop to reflect. And that's okay. I think all fiction needs to engage readers first and foremost. There is nothing wrong with reading for entertainment and a lot right about the value of reading as opposed to TV or movies or playing video games...
And I also don't mind (that much) when my books are accused of being shallow or fluff -- even though I think both words are highly derogatory terms to assign to something that an author has spent their time and effort on, and has shed blood or tears over. But whatever.
Regardless of how shallow some people might think my stories are, I do think about things like theme. A lot. In fact, I might think about them too much and let questions of what a reader might glean from my characters' actions sway how I choose to have them act or react. I want my books to reflect things I believe in, for the most part.
And in that, I'm starting to wonder if maybe I hold myself back at times. Maybe I interfere too much with my characters.... I mean... if I'd had a similar idea to Stephenie Meyers at the same time she did, and had written a teen vampire book--even with the same world building rules and basic story line--mine would have been different, because I would not have wanted to be promoting stalkerish, emotionally abusive boyfriends or abstinence-above-all-else or anti-abortion messages or teen marriage... And as a result, it's possible I wouldn't have written such an emotionally compelling trilogy that captured as many fans as she did. Who knows...
While writing Deviants, I worried--a lot--about how the Burn character comes off, and whether or not my heroine, Glory, might seem like a battered girlfriend who's forgives the violence of a boy who can't control his temper because she gives him the excuse of: it's not his fault.
Well, if you've read the book, you know it's not his fault. Not totally, anyway. And she's done things that are even harder to forgive. But, what if my book gives a subtle message to girls in abusive relationships that they should forgive their boyfriends? Hmmm... This upsets me.
Of course, in all my reviews so far, I don't think even one person has said this. Not in a review I've read the whole way through, anyway.
And Warm Bodies made me think of something else I've been struggling with as I finish The Dust Chronicles trilogy. Something I may have been thinking about/worrying about too much.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD -- BOTH FOR WARM BODIES AND FOR BOOKS 2 AND 3 IN THE DUST CHRONICLES (skip to bold text to avoid)
You see, in Warm Bodies, the zombies can recover. They can become alive again. They are sentient beings trapped in dead bodies. The science of this re-animation doesn't make any sense, but it is fiction after all.
But the deeper question it raises is: Is it ethically okay to kill a monster, when it's possible, just possible, that the monster might one day recover from being a monster?
The author of Warm Bodies (I assume in the book as well as the movie) solves this by basically having two levels of monsters... And that's something I've considered too, as I wrap up The Dust Chronicles. But I'm not sure. I actually think my "resolution" of this moral/ethical question might have more to do with self-defense as an excuse to kill, rather than "it's okay to kill a monster". We'll see. Revisions await, which is normally when I get all these things straight.
And perhaps only over-analytical nerds like me notice or worry about things like this.
Most people don't watch Warm Bodies and think about issues like murder and euthanasia, or stealing someone's memories and emotions, or addiction and recovery and redemption.
Rather, they think: that dude is cute for a zombie and true love saved the world. Awe. How sweet.