Let’s face it; The whole zombie “genre” had been getting a little bloated over the past couple of years. It’s not quite ruined like the vampire one due to the awful Twilight series, but it’s definitely run its course ever since Zombieland got the ball rolling and then the Walking Dead brought zombies into the forefront. I’m not implying that zombies weren’t cool before Walking Dead and that only people who read the comic book knew how truly awesome a zombie apocalypse setting is, but I have to say that people who I never thought would entertain the notion of watching a zombie themed TV show on a Sunday night…well they surprised me to say the least. From co-workers to aunts and supervisors to that one lady who used to babysit me, Walking Dead is a must watch for a vast array of people and prompts a slew of annoying Facebook updates all night long much to my chagrin.
So at this point you’d think that they’d done everything they could in the zombie genre. We’ve had zombies who walk, amble, run, climb and (shudder) use weapons. We’ve had straight up horror movies with Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later and Resident Evil. They’ve also gone the comedy route with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and Fido. If I had to compare Warm Bodies to anything it would most closely resemble a mash-up of Fido and Zombieland, and despite that, the film holds up relatively well on its own without comparisons to other works of zombiedom. Warm Bodies is essentially the first zombie love story, and as ridiculous as that sounds, it’s really not too bad.
Now ‘not too bad’ doesn’t mean that I flat-out loved the movie of course, and although it was a good premise, the whole thing became a little stale almost halfway through. The movie starts out giving us a rare glimpse into the everyday life (or lack thereof) of a zombie from the point of view… of a zombie. Played by Nicholas Hoult, most recently off of his turn as Hank McCoy/Beast in X-men: First Class, the zombie simply named “R” explains to the audience how miserable and mundane the life of a zombie is in this apocalyptic future. He reveals that the zombies are able to communicate through grunts and moans, as evidenced by a great bar conversation between him and his zombie best friend Marcus, played by Rob Corddry.
He also lets us in on the fact that even though they need human flesh to survive and they eat humans, R is very conflicted about it. We are also introduced the “Bonies”, or the final evolution of zombie kind. They’re disgusting skeletal looking creatures who are very fast and limber, and as R states, eat anything with a pulse. This simplistic zombie hierarchy occurs outside of the giant wall that the human survivors have built around a portion of the city and it is on the other side of that wall that we are introduced to the other side of the story.
The survivors of the zombiepocalypse are led by the always awesome John Malkovich, though much like in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, he is greatly underutilized. The majority of Malkovich is seen through a TV monitor and flashbacks until later in the movie. Not only is he the leader and general of the survivor forces, his daughter Julie is a part of the scavenger force routinely sent out into the zombie zone to retrieve supplies where she will inevitably run into her future love interest R.
I’m going to try not to spoil too much in the review, but the one part of the movie that I found more fascinating than the zombies actually struggling to become human again, was the moment where R begins to have a liking for Julie. It’s more of a liking than actually wanting to eat her face. It was a disgusting scene, but brilliant at the same time. You see, according to R, the brains are the best part of the body. Not because it tastes like prime rib or anything, but because of the memories the zombie eating them is able to experience. It gives said zombie the chance to experience things they could when they were alive, albeit for a brief moment. In this case, R was eating the brains of Julie’s now ex-boyfriend and was able to experience feelings and memories of their first kiss and all of that nonsense. Now I need to point out to any readers, please don’t go out and start eating people’s brains in a vain attempt to see their memories and experience their feelings. There is no scientific possibility that it would work, especially since you are not a zombie. Also, quick FYI, “R” is a name given to our main character because he can’t remember his name before being zombified. He only remembers that it starts with an R…like Romeo. Sort of like Julie is pretty close to Juliet…get it? And while the Shakespeare classic ends with the death of the kids, in here, the opposite seems to be in effect, as Julie makes R feel alive again.
A good portion of the movie is Julie spending time with R and doing everyday things with him to show him how to be human again, all the while R is changing inside and becoming more alive. It may sound utterly stupid, but come on it’s a zombie movie! And I’m pretty sure it was geared towards a younger female audience, hence all of the lovey-dovey stuff.
The movie was entertaining enough to me, although there just wasn’t enough time to develop the bonies as a legitimate threat to the humans and/or zombies. At no point did I have a feeling that the humans would be suddenly overrun and killed by the skeletal scavengers, nor did I particularly care if they were. The funny scenes were a little few and far between for my taste, but that may be due to me seeing most of them repeatedly in the commercials on TV. I’d say check the movie out if you’re into zombies, comedy and a little romance. If you’re only remotely interested though, do yourself a favor and wait until it’s out on video.