Step aside, vampires—you’ve got yourself a worthy, rotting opponent. “Warm Bodies,” released on February 1, is a tongue-in-cheek dark comedy that makes the notion of flirting with a zombie a no-brainer (forgive the pun).
As the lasts whispers of humanity are rapidly becoming extinct following a zombie apocalypse, the film centers on R (Nicholas Hoult), a restless zombie who shuffles his days through an abandoned airport with his best friend, M. On a usual feeding frenzy near the human’s fortress, R instantly goes gaga for Julie (Teresa Palmer) after killing and eating out the brains of her boyfriend (Dave Franco), which now gives him the ability to have emotion. He steals her away to “protect” her from the rest of his zombie comrades in an old airplane he calls home, and the two bond, causing his “undeadliness” to melt away and form a chain reaction in his fellow zombies following suit.
Additionally, Julie’s father, Gen. Grigio (John Malkovich) is in hot pursuit to destroy the zombie population. It deals with the correlation between romance and mortality in a whole new light and proves that not only zombies can have a change of heart.
The trailer makes it out to look like another necrophiliac romance, so then yes, I understand the sentiments of not wanting to relive the beat-out disaster that is “The Twilight Saga.” Regardless of how the zombie-human love mess appears on screen, anyone who has seen the trailer can’t deny their own curiosity. Therefore, I like to refer to the movie like this: the trailer got me interested; the first five minutes got me hooked.
And I mean really hooked. I was rolling on the floor within the first few witty remarks that R throws around. It catches—no, roundhouse kicks—your attention from the beginning, and while the last 20 minutes lose a bit of momentum, the high carries throughout the film.
This film definitely superseded any and all expectations across the board, and that’s particularly unusual this time of year. Coming off the high from the usual holiday movie rush, it’s typically slow moving at the box office. In other words, it’s a suicide mission to even release in January, but don’t let this Summit Entertainment picture fool you. While it may be a dead time at the movies, the undead seem to take the reigns for the film’s success.
On top of which, the film debuted on Super Bowl weekend—a double whammy. However, it managed to claim the top-spot contender for its opening weekend and sacked a hefty $20 million. I guess the majority of monster romanticists would rather watch “Warm Bodies” than a flailing Beyoncé at halftime.
It may have catered the script to its target teen audience, but the writing is incredibly clever and smart—a breath of fresh, rotted-corpse air. The plot rests on many elements of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (R and Julie—do you get it now?) Essentially, R is the Romeo of his own Zombieland.
Malkovich is a legend in his own right, but I felt like he was rather understated in his role. I wanted to see more of him, but this wasn’t one of his strongest characters he’s portrayed.
I was extremely impressed with Hoult’s performance, and I think he is so underrated in the industry. You might know him from “X-Men: First Class” as Beast or perhaps even 2002’s “About a Boy” with Hugh Grant, and let me just say: the “boy” has grown up—tremendously.
While it’s his most confined role to date, I feel like portraying R really shows what he’s made of, especially in the more silent parts. I love that he gets to act with his voice in narration but also has the task of playing out a relatively muted character
I will warn that zombie or hard-core “Walking Dead” enthusiasts of every age may not agree with the way their beasts are portrayed in “Warm Bodies,” but I wouldn’t be dumb enough to disagree with them. After all, they’re the ones who will protect the innocent from the real zombie apocalypse—first to deny, first to die. For the rest of us, it’s a delightfully eccentric backseat tour through the zombie-infested world.
“Warm Bodies” deserves a good four out of five chips. It did have some flaws, but I love that it fully transcends the atypical teenage romance genre—a dead horse that’s been beaten to a pulp over the past few years. It’s rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language (which comes in handy with a particularly funny part involving M and the “B” word). The plot entices you from start to finish with its intelligent, humorous and, at times, poignant twists. Overall consensus? A bloody good film.