(So I'm interrupting 80's Month with this review for Warm Bodies, but we'll be back to 80's Month with my next article, so fear not my 80's loving friends!)
Title: Warm Bodies (2013)
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry
The thing with Warm Bodies is that I initially thought I’d hate it, I went in with my bag of rotting vegetables, ready to throw them at the screen. To me it looked like it was going to be the Twilight of zombie movies and in some ways it is and in some ways it isn’t. What Twilight did with vampire movies is it softened them up; it turned the monsters into the heroes. It turned blood sucking creatures into beings who sparkle in the moonlight; it made vampires for lack of a better word, ‘cute’. And Warm Bodies does soften up the zombie film, it’s main character is a walking corpse, but you wouldn’t notice if you saw him from afar, except for the pale skin and a couple of scars. And yes my friends, let’s not forget this is a film about a zombie who falls in love with a human girl! So yeah, zombie movies are getting the Twilight treatment in a way, just compare Warm Bodies main zombie with the Edward Cullen character from Twilight, and you'll see they don't look all that different. Going into the theater I thought, “That’s it for zombie movies!” I don’t want my zombies falling in love; I want them mindless and brain hungry! But whatever, this being a zombie movie and me being a zombie movie nut, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Strange thing is I ended up enjoying Warm Bodies!
Warm Bodies tells the story of ‘R’ a zombie who wants to be something more than just a zombie. He wants’ to improve himself, better himself, and maybe even be human someday. Everything starts one day when R is on one of his food runs (i.e. looking for humans to eat) when he stumbles upon a group of rebellious humans who are fighting against the zombie hoards. In the middle of the battle, R notices a young human girl named Julie and its love at first site, and well, R starts to feel, his heart starts beating! Should R follow through with his feelings for Julie? Or are their worlds too different for them to fall in love?
One of the things I dug about Warm Bodies is that it actually delivers a couple of original ideas, number one, the idea that a zombie can go back to being human is one that hadn’t been done before in zombie films, and least not in any that I can remember. And number two that a zombie could fall in love with a human and vice versa. Now in a worn genre like the zombie movie, well, originality is a welcomed thing! The film presented us with one or two original concepts, which proves at least the filmmakers where aiming for something different.
The idea that we can hear a zombie’s interior monologue is a good one, again, I don’t believe I’d ever seen that done before. The idea is that R is conscious of his zombie state, but can do nothing about it. He sees himself act as a zombie, but thinks like a normal human being. Of course, to zombie purists this makes no sense whatsoever because zombies are walking corpses. Rationality, logic or thought normally don’t fit into the equation. But this isn’t your typical zombie movie and in the world of Warm Bodies zombies that think do exist. The idea is that R hasn’t been dead for long and isn’t as far off dead as the ‘Bonies’, which are zombies that are so dead that they literally look like walking skeletons. So I guess the filmmakers behind Warm Bodies bent zombie rules just a bit, as does every movie. All movies create their own universe and rules, in the universe Warm Bodies, zombies can think just fine.
Another good thing that Warm Bodies has going for it is that it’s a socially conscious zombie film, you kind of get the feeling that something like this is what George Romero would be doing nowadays, but of course, less cute. Recently I saw a Quentin Tarantino interview, in which he states that every director has his day, makes great films then their time passes and they get old and no longer make great films; though I still haven’t lost my faith in him, I feel this is exactly what happened to George Romero. To me old age got to him and he lost it. His last one, Survival of the Dead (2009) was a huge disappointment for me. Though not all that bad, it failed to live up to Romero’s post-apocalyptic glory gory days. Warm Bodies reminded me a bit of Romero’s socially conscious zombie films. Warm Bodies portrays modern society as robots, automatons who are growing increasingly disconnected from one another thanks to I-Pads and cell phones. I really dug how Warm Bodies explores class differences by infusing the film with a bit of Romeo and Juliet into the story. Same as Romero and Juliet, R and Julie come from completely different backgrounds. Julie is one of the human survivors; she lives inside of a walled city that still manages to have some comforts while R lives inside of an abandoned plane, in a zombie filled neighborhood. Yet they come together, because together, they will change everything. There’s even a balcony scene, so if anyone had any doubts about it, yeah this is a zombie version of Romeo and Juliet. By the way, the actress who plays Julie -Teresa Palmer- is a true beauty, I really hope we see more of her on the silver screen, and soon!
So that’s it for me ladies and gent’s, I say Warm Bodies is a good zombie film. It might get a little too cutesy at times, especially when it comes down to zombies thinking, talking, feeling, and falling in love, but it’s still entertaining and has something to say. A word of warning to zombie fans, there’s not much in the way of blood and guts, though brains are eaten the gory details are left in shadows or out of camera. I also thought that the ‘Bonies’ looked too CGI, they could have pulled those off a little better, I didn’t buy into those things being real at all. But the idea of the film, the concept that a corpse can come back to life through the power of love, is a splendid one. So is the concept that in a world that is constantly trying to dehumanize us, it’s important that we remember how to feel and emote, to communicate and help each other out. I enjoyed how the film emphasizes the importance of every day good deeds, simple things that make this world a more pleasant one to live in. That if we only put more of an effort into actually feeling emotions and interacting with other human beings, then maybe we can change things and make things in this world better, and though these are not the usual concepts we’d expect in a zombie movie, well, I still had a blast with Warm Bodies. Recommended!
Rating: 4 out of 5