Warm Bodies Review
Genre: Comedy, Teen Paranormal Romance
Not so much?
The film overall is well worth the money to see in theaters. It’s a macabre and funny rom-com that will entertain and provide you with a couple new catchphrases to use among your friends.
If you have been paying attention these last oh, 5 years or so, you might have noticed the resurgence of popularity of zombies. Not only in film but in other mediums as well, such as in television with the highly rated Walking Dead, comics with titles like Marvel Zombies and of course the source material for the aforementioned Walking Dead. There are zombie pub crawls, zombie shoes, bags, jewelry and several novels centering on zombies such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and most notably the epic World War Z by Max Brooks which will also be coming to theaters this year. The point is zombies everywhere you look. Even pranks pulled by cyber-hackers seem to be focused on them. So of course, a zombie rom-com wasn’t far behind.
Warm Bodies, based on the novel by Isaac Marion, hit theaters February 1st. It features a young conflicted zombie who cannot remember anything more than the first letter of his name, R. Played by Nicholas Hoult, R wanders an airport in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse in which he was infected. In the opening scene R introduces us to the odd world he now inhabits, laments on his poor posture, and introduces us to his best friend M played by Rob Corrdry.
“This is my best friend. By best friend i mean we occasionally grunt and stare awkwardly at each other.”
R is soon introduced to a young girl who he is instantly attracted to. Of course he happens to be in the middle of eating her boyfriend, but he’s a zombie so that’s to be expected right? The pair soon embark on a journey together which sees a progression R becoming more and more human.. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but what ensues is both entertaining and weirdly enchanting.
The film was directed by Jonathan Levine and the world that he presents is impressive; the color palette used is grey and dreary except for R himself who is cloaked in a ragged red hooded sweatshirt, setting him apart in the sallow post-apocalyptic world. The setting is likewise awash in greys, blacks and pale cold colors parroting both the pallor of the zombies themselves and the dilapidated steel of the broken city the undead and an army of humans now inhabit. Levine was subtle in his choice of colors and design but it had a big overarching effect on the film. As the story progresses their surroundings become more vibrant and alive almost reminiscent a of Grimm fairytale. Like a court awaking in Sleeping Beauty, as R slowly becomes more human color emerges reflecting the changes in the character himself.
The cast was well suited to their characters, in particular Nicholas Hoult. The British actor, previously seen in X-Men First Class and the original UK version of Skins, plays the awkward but resigned R.
The character’s morosely humorous inner monologues are by far the highlight of this film. R is somehow relatable and awkward even while feasting on brains and admiring a victim’s watch before biting into his flesh. Hoult plays the character’s development in a subtle way that makes the process somehow more believable. His wry humor and tongue in cheek glibness makes a somewhat ridiculous situation, a zombie coming back to life as an effect of falling in love, if not more believable, less ridiculous.
Rod Corrdry also co-stars as M, the best-friend of R and the more obvious comic relief of the film. The character is entertaining and has a couple of the best lines in the film, including his first words to R, “Bitches, man.” What I like about M is that he does indeed serve a purpose in the film. Too often in romantic comedies, especially those aimed at a younger audience, the sidekick is there for a laugh and that’s all. However, M plays a large part in gathering the re-animating zombies together. Corrdry does a decent job with the character, though at times it does feel like the audience is watching Corrdry playing a zombie instead of just watching M do something, though that is undoubtedly due to Corrdry’s distinct delivery and comic style.
Teresa Palmer plays the female lead, Julie. She plays the part well but there is a sense of missing something. This woman is supposed to be so amazing that R fell in love and started to shuck his “zombieness” and become human again. The character was interesting, strong and trained to be a warrior but the presentation lacked a certain amount of passion one would expect. It was lackluster and felt to this reviewer as if any young actress could have stepped into the role and turned in a similar performance. In fact the role was completely outshined by that of her best friend Nora played by Analeigh Tipton.
Nora is also humorous character but her humor comes less from awkwardness like R or jokes like M and more from her behavior which thoroughly reflects what you might expect from an average young woman caught up in a zombie apocalypse. She’s cautious of Zombies but trusts her best friend and once Julie (Teresa Palmer) indicates R is not a danger to her she is eager to learn more about him. She is also loyal, at one point protecting both Julie and R from Julie’s father, played by John Malkovich. The character is all at once relatable, funny and genuine and that is due much to what Tipton brings to the part.
Other cast members including John Malkovich and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street) hold their own in the film and both turn in great performances. Malkovich plays Julie’s father and Leader of the human base Grigio. He gives the character more heart than one might expect, showing the man’s struggle to be both a strong leader and a good father, edging the hard-nosed general with a compassionate and cautious hope for the future. Franco on the other hand plays the grieving and somewhat reckless Perry with a quite hopelessness that ultimately becomes the character’s downfall.
The film overall is well worth the money to see in theaters. It’s a macabre and funny rom-com that will entertain and provide you with a couple new catchphrases to use among your friends. I will admit that I did not read the book before entering purchasing my ticket so I cannot speculate as to the accuracy of the movie to the book. I will assume that there were some changes just as there are with any book moving from one medium to another. However the story in the film works well. A dark yet lighthearted fairytale doesn’t come along every day so make your way to the theater and get ready for a movie that has fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.