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The Warm Bodies

In: Film and Music

Submitted By kohemo08
Words 1982
Pages 8
A funny new twist on a classic love story, WARM BODIES is a poignant tale about the power of human connection. After a zombie epidemic, R (a highly unusual zombie) encounters Julie (a human survivor), and rescues her from a zombie attack. Julie sees that R is different from the other zombies, and as the two form a special relationship in their struggle for survival, R becomes increasingly more human - setting off an exciting, romantic, and often comical chain of events that begins to transform the other zombies and maybe even the whole lifeless world

As much as I enjoy "The Walking Dead" on AMC and movies such as "28 Days Later," one of my ongoing complaints about the explosion of the zombie genre is the general mopery and overall predictability of those ever-staggering creatures.

They lurch. They snarl. They sniff the air for the scent of human flesh. They pounce and gnaw. They pound windows and doors, and express frustration when confronted with 10-foot-high cyclone fences. And then they get shot in the head and die.

That's pretty much it. We almost never get inside the rotted mind of the zombie or see things from the zombie point of view. They're forever penned in as the Big Metaphor.

One of the many exhilarating pleasures of "Warm Bodies" is the flipping of that script. This is a bloody fresh twist on the most popular horror genre of this century, with none-too-subtle echoes of a certain star-crossed romance that harks back to a certain bard who placed a certain young Romeo under a certain balcony.

I kinda love this movie. "Warm Bodies" is a well-paced, nicely directed, post-apocalyptic love story with a terrific sense of humor and the, um, guts to be unabashedly romantic and unapologetically optimistic.

Looking a little like a boy-band heartthrob who won first place at a Hollywood Halloween party thanks to a a professional makeup job and an artfully bloodied red hoodie, Nicholas Hoult gives an earnest and winning performance as "R," who could be a character in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" or a John Hughes movie, if not for the small fact he's undead, having been recently zombified. (R's attempt to fill us in on the exact nature of the zombie apocalypse is one of the film's many affectionate nods to the all-too-familiar elements of so many zombie TV shows and movies.)

Unable to recall even his full first name (he's pretty sure it begins with the letter R), the kid knows he's a zombie and doesn't deny his hunger for living human flesh — but there are still traces of a real person inside. He spends his days lurching about an airport where he imagines the previous lives of his fellow zombies, listens to music in the grounded airplane he's converted into something of a condo and establishes the beginnings of a bond with M (Rob Corddry in a scene-stealing performance), who also seems to have more than a trace of his former humanity still lurking deep within.

Working from Isaac Marion's short story-turned-novel, writer-director Jonathan Levine infuses "Warm Bodies" with stylistic flourishes and winking in-jokes — some of them subtle, some so obvious characters are compelled to comment on them. ("What? It's funny!" says the delightful Analeigh Tipton when she chooses a particular song to accompany a makeover montage.)

There are three distinct species populating the Earth post-worldwide infection nightmare:

Humans. They're scarred from seeing spouses, children and friends turned into zombies or killed, but they're armed and they WILL shoot any corpse that comes within growling distance of their walled city.

Zombies. Wandering the streets, living in airports and warehouses, always on the alert for the next human meal. Maybe hopelessly lost. Maybe not.

"The Bonies." Zombies that have given up all hope and have resorted to tearing off their own flesh, leaving behind skeletal killing creatures that would just as soon take down a zombie as a human.

There's a key difference between the dead and the really and truly dead — a difference that comes to light when R strikes up a bond with Julie (Teresa Palmer). Granted, their "meet cute" involves mass slaughter and the consumption of one character's brains, which allows a zombie to access a dead character's memory. But other than those small details, the courtship of R and Julie isn't all that different from what we've seen in any number of human/human as well as human/supernatural creature romances, including the "Twilight" movies. Hoult and Palmer have a lovely, natural chemistry, even when the circumstances are grisly or silly — or both.

Perhaps recognizing there's no way he can out-crazy the material, John Malkovich actually delivers a relatively restrained performance as Julie's father, who of course is the leader of the military force that believes in shooting first, asking questions never. This guy's so hard-core, he probably wouldn't let his daughter date Tim Tebow, let alone a zombie who's desperately trying to get in touch with his human side. ("That could have gone better," says Julie with deadpan understatement after Dad finally meets R.)

"Warm Bodies" isn't perfect. It's a shame those Bonies are mediocre special-effects creations that run with a herky-jerky style that would have been mocked by the 1991-era "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" liquid-metal dude. Some of the musical choices are too broad and easy. And even after we get the message, the message is delivered at least two or three more times.

But those are minor drawbacks. Clocking in at a brisk 97 minutes, "Warm Bodies" is terrific entertainment.

A lot of zombie movies have heart — but usually the heart ends up on someone's plate. Cheers to "Warm Bodies" for taking us in a different direction for a change.

Cast: Nicholas Hoult as R Teresa Palmer as Julie Analeigh Tipton as Nora Rob Corddry as M Dave Franco as Perry John Malkovich as Grigio Cory Hardrict as Kevin

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Summary: With a great mix of horror, humor, and romance, "Warm Bodies" is a fun new spin on the classic tale of "Romeo & Juliet."

Story: "Warm Bodies" is based on the novel by Isaac Marion.

In a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world, R wanders about aimlessly at an airport along with all of the other zombies. But R is a little bit different from the other undead. He collects human trinkets, he contemplates his meaningless existence, and he longs to feel anything again.

While on a trip into the city to feed on humans, R eats the brains of a young man named Perry. As he does so, R is able to experience the memories of his victim. But R has a different experience this time as he also falls in love with Perry's girlfriend Julie. Now experiencing Perry's love for Julie, R is overcome with feelings for her as well and a need to protect her.

R saves Julie from attacking zombies and an unlikely relationship is formed between the two. Little do they realize that R's love will start bigger events in motion in the zombie world.

"Warm Bodies" is rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language.

What Worked: Upon first glance, you might look at "Warm Bodies" and think, "Ugh. Another zombie movie?" And under most circumstances, you'd be right. The zombie fad may be near its end. But as long as a film can offer a fresh take on old material, it can work. And fortunately, "Warm Bodies" does just that. First of all, it tells the story of R from a first person perspective. While most zombies are portrayed as thoughtless monsters, this story takes you inside of the head of a zombie. You hear what he's thinking as he kills a person, his thoughts about his pathetic state, his thoughts about other zombies, etc. It's a great new take on a classic movie monster. The other great thing it does is take the classic story of "Romeo & Juliet" and throws a modern zombie twist on it. The Montague family members are now zombies. The Capulets are the surviving humans. R is, of course, Romeo and Julie is Juliet. I was well over halfway through the film before I had this realization and even then it took them doing an amusing version of the balcony scene to make it blatantly obvious to me. As soon as the scene happens, you could hear the lightbulbs going off among audience members. The film also has some fairytale elements as Julie is the beauty and R is the beast. All of this combined together makes for a fun new take on the zombie genre.

Director Jonathan Levine manages to hit the tone pitch perfect with "Warm Bodies." There's plenty of comedy here, but there's an equal amount of drama as well. There's a great love story between R and Julie, but there's plenty of horror and zombie gore. Somehow Levine manages to balance all of these elements together and avoid falling squarely into one realm or another. It never turns into zombie parody, but it never takes itself too seriously either. The end result is a crowd pleasing film and a great date movie. Guys will love the action and horror while girls will love the romance and engaging relationships. There's something here for everyone.

The cast of "Warm Bodies" is excellent. Nicholas Hoult ("X-Men: First Class") plays R. Much of his performance is purely physical with little or no dialogue. But he conveys a lot with his zombie body language. Throw in his witty narration on top of his performance and it's a great combination. This also seems to be a breakout role for Teresa Palmer as Julie. Best known for "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "I Am Number Four," she really gets the spotlight here. She's tough, pretty, and you believe her transition from fear of R to caring for him. She ultimately has good chemistry with Hoult. The cast is rounded out by Analeigh Tipton as Nora, Rob Corddry as R's zombie friend M, and Dave Franco as Perry.

"Warm Bodies" also has a fun soundtrack. You'll hear well-placed bits of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart," Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane," and more. They feature everyone from Bob Dylan to M83 and Delta Spirit. It's an eclectic mix that works like the movie itself.

What Didn't Work: I don't have much to criticize about "Warm Bodies." If I had to nitpick, I'd say the ending was a little convenient. I can't discuss it more without getting into spoilers, but the film is resolved in a nice and neat bow that may put off some. It requires you to believe in a bit of fairytale magic that may be a bit of a stretch for some people.

I'd also say John Malkovich is a little flat as Julie's father Grigio. He's supposed to be emotionally distant from his daughter, but you do start to wonder what another actor might have done in the role.

Finally, the CG of the "Bonies" is a bit of a mixed bag. They are skeletal zombies who have deteriorated so far that there's almost nothing left of them. In some scenes, they're as scary and frightening as you might hope. In other scenes they look very CG, especially when they are running. But it is ultimately passable and you're so invested in the characters of R and Julie that you ignore it and move on.

The Bottom Line: "Warm Bodies" is a fun surprise in a time when movies are typically dumped to die early deaths. It is entertaining for wide audiences and a great date movie. If you like "Zombieland," "The Walking Dead" or romantic comedies, then this is a film you'll want to check out.

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