Now I’ll have to admit, I had no plans to see Warm Bodies in theaters. I’m not even sure if I was going to watch it on DVD. But last Thursday night an email came across my phone with passes to attend a screening, and I figured, why not?
For those of you looking for a zombie film focusing on the horror genre, you might be a little disappointed. Writer/director Jonathan Levine (his last film was 50/50 starring Joseph Gordon Levitt) sort of creates a new genre as he transforms Isaac Marion’s novel from page to screen, and brings us a rom-com with the unique twist of adding flesh-eating zombies. You’re probably saying to yourself at this point, “a zombie romance comedy? You can’t be serious?” Trust me, Levine pulls it off. Levine may not have brought the film to its full potential, as the plot travels all over the place at times and lacks some critical character development, but he does pull it off.
If you’re not familiar, Warm Bodies throws us into a world that is eight years deep into what is believed to be the apocalypse. What we’re shown early on in the film is R (Nicholas Hoult) saving Julie (Teresa Palmer) from a zombie attack. R is a zombie himself. What forms after these events is a Romeo and Juliet type relationship between the two that will change the course of the apocalypse.
Nicholas Hoult is fun to watch as R, the nearly lifeless zombie. The film opens with a comical sequence where R shuffles around an abandoned airport – which is overrun with zombies – providing a voiceover that lays the framework for the viewer and induces a few laughs. “What am I doing with my life?” asks R. “Why am I so pale? I should get out more. I should eat better. My posture is terrible, I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter.” R can’t remember his full name and doesn’t remember anything about his life before becoming a zombie. Hoult’s zombie walk, facial expressions, and grunts that lead to the occasional stringing together of words are quite impressive.
R isn’t your typical zombie. He shuffles around town, collects items during zombie raids, and brings them back to display in his home – which is an empty airplane at the airport. R is an avid collector of vintage vinyl records, which provides a pretty awesome soundtrack that it utilized wonderfully throughout the film. We hear excerpts from Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” and John Waite’s “Missing You,” all fit perfectly with the scenes and situations to which they are assigned.
Teresa Palmer is a bit of a badass when we first meet her as Julie. A gun-wielding zombie killer who is out on a mission, with a few others, to bring medicine back to their section of the city with high impenetrable walls, Julie is spotted by R and taken back to the airport with the zombies. Hoult and Palmer are a solid on-screen couple who create many more laughs than they do scares.
With Warm Bodies, writer/director Jonathon Levine has given us an original take on the rom-com, tangling an infatuation and love affair with the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. Charming and humorous with a fantastic soundtrack and a genre-bending style, Warm Bodies provides us with a fun and lighthearted film that will leave viewers pleasantly surprised as the best option for a Valentine’s Day date flick for 2013.
Check out the first 4 minutes right now