January 31, 2013

warm bodies teresa palmer nicholas hoult

In order to keep the zombie genre from rotting, it needs fresh life.  28 Days Later did away with the “z-word” and turned zombification into a virus.   Last year, ParaNorman took a compassionate view of the undead by seeing that they were just misunderstood albeit terrifying.  Warm Bodies moves in the direction of the latter to the point where it’s straining to even be a zombie movie.  Instead, Warm Bodies is more of a romance that embraces its reinvention of Romeo & Juliet, but with so much sweetness and charm, it’s hard to begrudge the lack of brain-eating or flesh-rotting.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie whose life (and/or death) is beset with a general malaise.  He doesn’t enjoy his lot of in life (and/or death), but he finds purpose after devouring the brains of Perry (Dave Franco), getting his memories, and falling in love with Perry’s girlfriend, Julie (Teresa Palmer).  R kidnaps Julie in order to spend more time with her, and as his heart starts to beat again, she discovers that there may be hope for zombiekind.  Meanwhile, R’s love begins to spread to other zombies like his friend M (Rob Corddry).  However, the love story is caught between the militants led by Julie’s father, Grigio (John Malkovich), on one side, and the too-far-gone zombies, called “Bonies”, on the other.


Warm Bodies kicks off with a lot of humor as R’s voiceover provides a nice commentary on the post-apocalyptic world and his daily life (and/or death).  But once Julie enters the picture, director Jonathan Levine shifts his film heavily in the direction of a romance.  While it would have been nice to keep the same level of humor, the romance works because Levine makes it completely sweet, lovable, and almost innocent.  The innocence almost feels like a necessity since R and Julie moving in a physical direction would raise the question of whether or not Julie is engaging in necrophilia.

But this is the least of the questions raised by the story.  I keep using “and/or death”, because Warm Bodies isn’t completely clear on its rules.  The zombies aren’t really dead as much as they are brain damaged and cannibalistic.  If they were really dead, then they would decay, except they can decay like the bonies.  So why does R have scar tissue?  Furthermore, R is called “R” because he can’t remember his full name, but his voiceover is clever, insightful, and erudite.  So are the zombies really brain damaged, or is it simply a matter of being vocally inarticulate?


The film tries to push these issues off to the side, and while the zombie-angle can feel a little thin as a result, its presence mostly succeeds because of a strong subtext.  In Warm Bodies, zombies aren’t really the dead but the loveless.  Levine makes a quick joke about how we’re pretty much zombies already as we all stupidly gaze into our phones rather than try to make human connections.  As R points out, the bonies are the ones who have just given up entirely, and become nothing but ravenous monsters.  If despair can kill the planet, then perhaps love can save it.

That’s a totally corny message, but Levine makes it work by finding the right balance of romance with a nice bit of humor.  Hoult wonderfully leads the picture despite being restricted by the range of motions and emotions available to a zombie.  However, Levine leaves enough room for a performance just as he leaves his picture the space to maneuver through its zombie pretext.  Movie monsters should be somewhat threatening, but this is almost as cuddly as zombies can get since they’re not really zombies.  It’s best not to get too hung up on the difference between dead and undead in Warm Bodies.  It’s more lovable when you see it as the difference between loved and unloved.

Rating: B


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  • Alan B

    If only more producers would give Matt Goldberg a cameo appearance in one of their films, and they would receive a review as forgiving as this one.

  • 2 Dimensional Mr Kippling

    sorry who said the zombie genre was rotting? for the general public maybe, but what real zombie fan gives a shit about the masses!

    will check this out tho

  • idontdrivecars

    We are over saturated with zombies. They were once a great allegory, representative of a stranglehold the American manifesto had on the individual, but now are printed on lunch boxes and pajamas. From the studio that brought you the Razzie award winning “Twilight” series comes “Warm Bodies,” a zombie love story.
    And lets be honest, its been a good few months without a horror re-telling of “Romeo and Juliet.” But hey, if something works… So here we have Juliet, a human, and R, a zombie, an odd couple separated by a wall that prevents zombies from entering a human city. If it’s the last human city that remains, this is unclear, as is everything else.
    For instance, how and why do the mindless villains devise a plan in the movies finale without the ability to see or speak? Why do the undead spin records and have homes? Why do some of the zombies run, while others complain about being slow? This list could go on. And “Warm Bodies” major fault lies with its disregard for 40 years of obligatory zombie convention.
    Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: First Class”) does an admirable job as a zombie brought back to life via the beautiful Teresa Palmer. She’s so beautiful in fact, his heart starts back up and there you have it.
    “Warm Bodies” is stupid. A movie that will be loved by a ungodly amount of teenage girls everywhere. Though I will give credit where it’s deserved, William Shakespeare, you wrote a timeless love story and Isaac Marion, you were clever enough to throw zombies into the beloved play. The complexities of love and the logic around “Warm Bodies” are difficult to comprehend and would be more accurately articulated by Mr. Huey Lewis, “It’s strong and it’s sudden and it’s cruel sometimes, but it might just save your life, that’s the power of love.”

  • nick robinson

    Saw the movie last week. Really Really enjoyed it …. it was different being on the other side and seeing the Zombies point of view LOL ….. Go see it !!!!!

  • James

    Went to the 10 pm show of this tonight with the girlfriend and we both liked it. I thought it was pretty solid, a different approach to the “zombie” genre that was refreshing. Oh and I LOVE Teresa Palmer, she is so gorgeous! I give it a 3/5.

  • TommyK

    “we’re the zombies already because we all stare into cell phones omg omg”


    what biting social commentary on modern society

    • Michael Horne

      Better than no social commentary at all. And, frankly, he _does_ have a point!

      • zeke

        Michael, a point becomes dull if you use it over and over again. Actually no social commentary at all would have been better… if that’s what passes for social commentary these days.

  • Jenn

    I’m going to c the movie now I love zombies and zombie movies and series especially the walkin dead neway u all have left sum lame and selfish comments y not give the readers aka me somthing to digest or teach us something we don’t already know about the topic which is the film I have a question where does Matthew fox from lost play into this I need to know somebody with intelligence respond please thanks xoxox Jennifer

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