Warm Bodies Review

Ever wonder what it’s like be one of the walking dead during the zombie apocalypse? Based on the Isaac Marion novel, Warm Bodies answers that question in the new romantic comedy from Summit Entertainment starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich and Rob Corddry. Does this movie do to rom-coms, what Zombieland did for buddy flicks, or is it just a poor “Twilight for zombies” knock off?

Story

After eight years since the end of civilization, the world’s population has broken down into three groups: the living, the corpses and the skeletons. The living humans have barricaded themselves in a city behind a fifty foot wall to try to live a safe and normal life. The corpses, as they are called by the humans, are the zombies that roam around looking for their next brain buffet to feast on. A lot of the zombies have called the local airport home. The skeletons are the final phase of a zombie. They have decayed to an extreme measure that eventually their flesh either falls or gets ripped off. The zombies call these dead, “Bonies” and even they are scared of them.

One particular zombie is a twenty something year old who thinks his name started with an “R,” but he can’t remember. He wanders the airport zombie watching and striking up conversations with his best friend that usually involves grunts and awkward stares. He tries to figure out what his fellow zombies were like in their past lives, but it’s hard since no one talks. He is internally conflicted about eating people, but realizes that’s what life in now. His favorite thing to eat is brains because it allows him to gain the memories of the recently departed and feel human again.

One fateful day, R and his buddy, M, decide to venture into the abandoned city with some other zombies to look for a meal. They cross paths with a group of young militants who left the walled city for  food and medical supplies. The zombies take out the majority of the team instantly, but R becomes infatuated by a young blonde named Julie. Her beauty triggers something in his heart and memories, so he rescues her and takes her back to his airplane home to protect her. R is starting to revert back to human due to a single heartbeat that Julie jumpstarted. Can Julie help R and his fellow zombies cure themselves or will the humans and the Bonies finish them off?

Overview

Between The Walking Dead, Zombieland and Left 4 Dead, zombies have been saturating all forms of entertainment media, all of which I have been a big fan of. So when I first saw the trailer for Warm Bodies, I have to admit I was really intrigued at the premise. Even though it’s based on a novel, I really like original movies rather than reboots and sequels. I had a lot of expectations and I have to say that Warm Bodies didn’t disappoint. I assumed it would be funny and heartfelt and it was.  I also loved the reverse perspective into the zombie genre. Do zombies have memories or a conscience? If they were shy and insecure when they had a pulse, do they keep that personality? Can they love even though their hearts don’t beat? I felt the movie did a great job educating you about the zombie apocalypse from a flesh eater point of view.

While watching the movie, two others came to mind: Frankenstein and Wall-E. I I know that’s such a strange combination, so let me explain. Frankenstein was a misunderstood creature that everyone considered a monster. Now why the argument could be said that zombies are indeed monsters, is there a possibility for them to still have a part of their soul? I think of the scene in Frankenstein where the creature  is interacting with the little girl next to the pond. I saw that same heartfelt compassion in R as I did with Frankenstein’s monster. It was only when the creature was provoked did the monster come out. That’s nearly the same idea when R first encounters the humans looking for supplies. Both R and Frankenstein’s monster seem to come across as sympathetic and compassionate beings in their own rights.

Warm Bodies Movie review screenshot
The zombie airport is not that much different when it was filled with humans.

I make reference to Wall-E due to not only the nature of R, but also the love story. Wall-E was a robot, but unlike the other garbage compacting robots, he evolved into having a personality the more he interacted with human possessions such as music, knickknacks and artwork. Wall-E was a collector or almost an archaeologist unlocking the mysteries of human culture. That’s exactly what R does. He listens to music like Gun N Roses on records or collects souvenirs like snow globes to spark something in his decayed brain as to what it was like to be human again. While the other zombies are content just roaming around, R is desperately trying to keep as much of his humanity intact before he turns into a Bonie. It also seems really similar because R stored all of his collection in his airplane in the exact same manner Wall-E kept his mementos in his armored truck. Come to think about it. R also reminded me of Ariel in The Little Mermaid in that aspect. The love story in Warm Bodies seemed to be on par to Wall-E as well in the fact that two similar but different beings could learn and grow from interacting with each other. Wall-E taught EVE to have fun and be more “human.” R teaches Julie that zombies really aren’t that bad by removing the layers of misconceptions about them and Julie reminds R what it is to be human again. The love story wasn’t sappy and it was quite humorous. You could also call it a modern day undead telling of Romeo and Juliet, especially since the characters names are R and Julie. Get it?

Warm Bodies Movie Review starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer
Julie (Teresa Palmer) learns how to act dead from R (Nicholas Hoult).

Starring as R is Nicholas Hoult who played Beast/Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class and Jack in the upcoming Jack The Giant Slayer. I thought he did a fantastic job portraying a misfit zombie. I know it takes a bit of a leap of faith that a zombie would be able to feel out of place, but lets face it, zombies as well as vampires are fictional beings. They don’t exist, so why not mix things up in the mythology. It just takes some suspension of disbelief in the character of R. I’m not telling you to forget what exactly a zombie is, but there is still room for variations of the creature like there was in 28 Days Later and I am Legend.

The rest of the cast is rounded out with Teresa Palmer as Julie, John Malkovic as Julie’s overprotective  military father, and Robert Corddry as R’s best friend, M. Now, while no one outshined each other’s performances, I thought they all did a great job supporting the plot from different angles. Palmer gives R the number one reason to be human again. Malkovich is the typical antagonist zombie hunter, dead set on wiping them all out due to the death of his wife and Julie’s mother. But the character I really loved was M. Corddry had little to no dialog, but when he did speak he had the best lines in the whole movie. When Corddry spoke, the audience laughed.

Warm Bodies Movie Review starring Rob Corddry and Nicholas Hoult
Rob Corddry plays M, the best friend any zombie could ask for.

Warm Bodies was written and directed by Jonathan Levine who is known for his critically acclaimed 2011 comedy, 50/50. I thought he did a great job with his adaption of the Isaac Marion novel. The pacing of the movie wasn’t rushed yet there was very little dead time, no pun intended. His direction of the actors made you care about the characters, especially the zombies. Since the movie is rated PG-13, the director does a great job not to be too graphic or gory for younger audiences, because the brutality isn’t the focus, the love story is.

I really had a great time with Warm Bodies and from audience reactions, I think they did too. The film was cute, funny and endearing. It did a great job explaining a zombies perspective while telling an interesting story. If you are a fan of zombie comedies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, or don’t like over the top gut spilling cannibalism, then I highly recommend Warm Bodies as  a fun date movie. And if you are a parent that is  concerned about graphic violence for their young teenagers, I can assure you that an episode of the Walking Dead is more brutal. The movie is properly rated at PG-13.

In Theaters: February 1, 2013
Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for zombie violence and some language)
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry
Genre: Adaptation, Horror, Romance, Comedy
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Official Site: http://WarmBodiesMovie.com/

BONUS!

Watch the first four minutes of Warm Bodies here!