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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Warm Bodies | Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry | Review

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Warm Bodies

Zombie purists a.k.a. zombie movie fanatics may have a problem with Warm Bodies, due to the film being a quirky comedy that is more about emotional connections than reeling in the horror and gore. As far as I am concerned, other than the original and best zombie movie of all time, Night of the Living Dead, if you have seen one zombie movie you've basically seen them all.   I like when creativity and originality come into play, so it is refreshing to see something different and not of the usual recycling bin, pop up as a theatrical release.

Warm Bodies is a boy meets girl tale with one major difference, the guy happens to be one of the walking dead or corpses, also known as zombies, that rely on eating live flesh for sustenance.

Set in a post apocalyptic world, eight years after an unspecified plague that ravaged the earth turned humans into zombies, the story unfolds under the narration of a zombie who calls himself R (Nicholas Hoult, showing no trace of his British accent, delivering a deadpan but engaging performance) because that's all he can remember of his name.  R spends his time, looking pale, hunched over and slowly wandering around an airport with others of his kind including best friend, fellow grunter, M (Rob Corddry) when not staying in a deserted airplane.  The thing is, R claims he doesn't want to be a zombie.  He's bored and just wants to connect with people. That, of course, is a problem, given he has a powerful need to satisfy his hunger for devouring the flesh and organs of humans. To survive, the humans have built a wall separating their Green Zone from zombie territories.

One day, during an airport raid by a group of humans, R saves the life of a pretty blonde female named Julie (Teresa Palmer, reminiscent of a more spirited, likable Kristen Stewart) whose father (John Malcovich in bad ass mode) is the leader of the human resistance.  After eating the brains of Julie's boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco) and absorbing his memories, R discovers that he has feelings for her and wants to keep her safe. “Don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy,” he keeps telling himself, before approaching her so she wouldn't be scared.

To protect her from the other zombies, R takes Julie to his airplane abode filled with his collection of nostalgic items including old LP records and other memorabilia he picked up on his rounds.  At first, she is frightened and unsure of his intensions.  But, before too long Julie realizes R is different than the other zombies, and the unlikely couple start to develop an unusual bond, triggering some mutual emotions and a beat in R's dead heart.  In other words, a budding, star crossed romance, is in the works.

Complications ensue as Julie's dad is headstrong on annihilating all the zombies. Meanwhile, another more dangerous lethal threat to everyone's existence are the (computer generated) Boneys, skeletal creatures that evolve when Zombies resort to eating their own flesh and no trace of their human origin is left.

Written and directed by Jonathan Levine from Isaac Marion’s 2011 bestseller,  the film cleverly blends romance, comedy with a pinch of horror and the result is surprisingly sweet and charming. There are a few nods to Romeo and Juliet including a cute and funny balcony scene, several pop culture references and a nostalgic rock soundtrack.  One amusing scene has R showing Julie how to act like a zombie so that she would fit in among his fellow corpses.  Another has Julie and her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton, Crazy, Stupid Love), giving R a human makeover as Nora has the song “Pretty Woman” playing in the background.

Warm Bodies won't change your world,  but it makes a point that love is transformative.  And, with its fresh spin on zombies, this welcome zom-rom-com most certainly injects new life into the old genre.

 

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