Starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich
Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50)
Rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language
Based on the book by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies tells the story of a young male zombie (Hoult) who falls in love with a young human (Palmer) after eating the brains of her boyfriend and thus stealing his memories of her. When he saves her life from a massive zombie attack, the two begin to warm up to each other, literally, as it appears that something is bringing him slowly back to life. Unfortunately, its a relationship doomed to fail since her father (Malkovich) is the human military leader, determined to immediately kill any zombie he comes across.
Very loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (his name is R, hers in Julie), the story might not be the first zombie comedy, but it is extremely cute in a somewhat disturbing manner. Where it differs from traditional zombie films is that zombies aren’t the scariest kids on the block but rather the skeletons named “bonies” are the completely heartless and ruthless killers that are to be most feared. That is also where it separates from the typical zombie genre. In most zombie films there is a biological cause of the disease afflicting the dead. Here they touch on that, but when the bonies pop out, that completely kills the scientific basis for the creatures, even though that scientific explanation might be overall weak. In this regard the story is more supernatural than you would expect from a genre that is typically meant to be a potential possibility in our worst nightmares.
What is most enjoyable about the movie is the narration and humor of the main character who describes the goings on almost like a director doing a commentary on a DVD. It is very funny at times and between Hoult and his best friend zombie played by Rob Corddry, there is much to keep a smile on your face.
Where it fails is in its predictability. If you’ve seen the trailer then there are really no surprises here. If you were to hear the basic premise, the movie in your head would be much like what you end up seeing. So aside from the clever dialogue, you get a very standard script with little in the way of originality or nuance.
If you are looking for a good date movie for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, Warm Bodies should make you happy. It’s better than most of the rom coms Hollywood likes to regurgitate this time of year and most couples should leave the theater feeling fully entertained and glad to still be alive. B