‘Warm Bodies’ focuses more on undead romance than political or social issues, while having just enough blood and guts for genre fans. This zombie flick ranks with some of the best living dead films ever made. It’s fresh, original and has an amazing soundtrack. I have no doubt that this lovable zombie movie will make tons of money at the box office.
Director Jonathan Levine (‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane’) stepped away from the horror genre in his recent efforts ‘The Wackness‘ and ‘50/50‘, but returns here to give us a coming of age story set in a dystopian world conceived by writer Isaac Marion, whose novel of the same name was published only a couple of year ago. I haven’t read the book yet, but if it’s anything like the film, I’m sure I’ll love it. This love story starts out in a near-future, post-apocalyptic landscape where most people are undead, and spend their time wandering around looking for still-living humans, in order to feed on their brains, guts and organs.
Among the millions of zombies is R (Nicholas Hoult). He goes by “R” because he can’t remember his name, which we learn as his thoughts narrate throughout the film. R also can’t remember anything about his former life before the big zombie apocalypse. On an afternoon when R and several other zombies look for humans, they stumble upon a group of survivors salvaging a pharmacy for medicine. During the attack, R is captivated by Julie (Teresa Palmer), who is very much alive and kills the zombie attackers. In an effort to dodge her bullets, R attacks Julie’s boyfriend, and brutally kills and eats him.
However, it’s love at first sight for R, who decides to spare Julie from being eaten. He escorts her to safety in an airplane at an airport that he has converted into a makeshift home complete with a collection of records and a record player that he operates. At first, Julie is very scared, as R only blankly stares at her and groans. But after a little while, she seems to notice that he’s different, and that he’s trying to communicate with her, even learning to slowly speak again.
This is where we find out why zombies eat people, especially their brains, which not only provide the undead a daily fill of vitamins, but also give them access to their victim’s memories, thus making the deadites feel a bit more human. However, Julie knows she can’t stay in the airplane with R forever. She must get back home to a section of the city that has been blocked off by giant 100-foot cement walls and is led by her widowed dad, Grigio (John Malkovich). As Julie starts to make her way back home, R realizes that he’s transforming into a human again and that there may be a cure for zombieism.
The story plays out perfectly with no lags in the script or characters. The movie also has quite a bit of comedy, not only from the teenage love story, but from one of R’s zombie friends, who is hilariously played by Rob Corddry. ‘Warm Bodies’ is completely aware of itself and how silly it can be, which makes this undead comedy shine above others.
Nicholas Hoult (who rose to fame as the kid in ‘About A Boy‘) does a fantastic job giving a charismatic performance under R’s zombie-like body language. Malkovich and Palmer also turn in solid work. The movie doesn’t have tons of gore. It tends to stray away from the blood-and-guts aspect to focus on the relationship, but it has bits of brains and blood here and there to please the gore fans.
With a killer soundtrack composed of artists ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Guns N Roses, older crowds will laugh and love the way music is used here. ‘Warm Bodies’ is a great addition to the zombie genre and stands out as a fresh love story with likable characters. As soon as I left the theater after watching this, I was already dying to see it again.