Clipper Film Correspondent
Rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language.
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Dave Franco, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton , Cory Hardrict , Rob Corddry.
Written by Jonathan Levine, based on the novel by Isaac Marion.
Directed by by Jonathan Levine.
GRADE: **1/2 (two and a half stars out of four)
Zombie lore has been an unavoidable staple in film and television lately. There is a significant amount of zombie movies, comic books and TV series out there, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before a zombie romantic comedy would get the green light. Warm Bodies may be the first romance based in the world of the walking dead, and it may not be the last.
Nicholas Hoult plays “R” (since he can't remember his living name), a young zombie who wanders around an airport with other people in his same predicament. His story is set in the world after the “zombie apocalypse” where uninfected humans have barricaded themselves behind a huge wall in a major city, sending out patrols of volunteers to recover supplies for survival. The living are led by General Grigio (John Malkovich), a harsh man whose only mission in life is to kill all the zombies.
During one such mission, Grigio's daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) runs into a band of zombies which also includes R. As Julie's boyfriend (Dave Franco) becomes R's brain brunch, the young dead man is smitten with her, and she is saved by him from the other zombies. R takes Julie to his airport hideout at the airport as a hostage.
During her captivity, R begins to have feelings usually reserved for living people, including a faint heartbeat. Julie also starts to have feelings for R, especially after he saves her life on more than one occasion.
Julie eventually gets back to the “living people” encampment and tries to convince her father that love can cure the zombies, but not before a band of more violent “skeleton” zombies engage in an attack on the living, who are joined by other zombies who have discovered feelings after being inspired by R.
Warm Bodies is a unique film, and could be considered a romantic comedy, if not for a substantial amount of zombie gore and scary moments, giving it the feel and tone of a horror movie. The clever script (mostly narrated by Hoult) has a lot of comedic elements, while the romance doesn't get too sappy, if not implausible.
And speaking of romance, if you pay close attention during Warm Bodies, you'll notice more than a few similarities to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (R=Romeo, Julie=Juliet, the forbidden romance between star-crossed lovers...there's even a “balcony” scene).
The problem with Warm Bodies, as I see it - is the rather apparent blasphemy that most zombie movie fans will not take lightly. It's a well-known “fact” that there is no cure for “Zombieism” and the possibility of being able to reverse the effects of the living dead kind of makes the “Apocalypse” seem more like your garden-variety epidemic, easily handled by a few strict guidelines from the CDC. What's more, The idea that a forbidden love story could derive from the world of zombies might appeal to the folks who were willing to overlook the tenets of vampire lore and accept the likes of the Twilight series.
For true Zombie fans, it may be a little too much to swallow.
What's next? A zombie musical? Heaven forbid.