Seattle's Isaac Marion (self-published "Where Are They Now") wrote the book on which this goofy (and unconventional) romantic comedy (with ZOMBIES?!) is based. Director Jonathan Levine ("50/50") did the honors at the helm.
Despite a pretty standard opening with the walking dead lurching through a demolished city looking (and finding!) humans on which to munch, this gradually evolves into a laugh-out-loud comedy and a sweet romance. You'll just have to trust me! (The tag line is: Cold Body, Warm Heart.)
* Nicholas Hoult ("About a Boy") is R, for lack of a better name; he just can't remember... He seems to have the right instincts (I want to protect her, not eat her), but is extremely confused (How do you talk to a girl?).
* Teresa Palmer ("I Am Number Four") is Julie. Their balcony scene made me wonder if his full name was Romeo. This actress bears an uncanny resemblance to a blonde Kristen Stewart.
* John Malkovich ("RED") is Julie's father, General Grigio, who heads the human defense forces in their walled fortress, fighting zombies and skeletors.
* Dave Franco ("21 Jump Street") is Perry, one of the armed defenders of the besieged humans. Yes, he's James Franco's younger (handsomer) brother.
* Analeigh Tipton ("Crazy, Stupid, Love") is Nora, Julie's friend. She offers her cosmetics when they try to disguise our hero as a human, not a corpse. She says, "I know it's hard to get a boyfriend, what with the apocalypse and all, but..."
* Rob Corddry (Lots of TV) is M, R's best friend, if there even IS such a thing in the zombie world.
All of us were involved in this upbeat comedy from the get-go. We were surprised the first time we laughed because of the dystopian setting, but got the hang of it very quickly.
Expect a circumspect courtship, lots of gunshots and blood, very little vehicular mayhem or profanity and NO blowie uppie stuff.
Just suspend disbelief and have a good time! Amazon will tell me when I can order my DVD.
on February 12, 2013
Wow. And again, wow!! Who would've guessed that there would come a day when someone would create a zombie movie that could be accurately described as sweet and charming??
I loved this movie! And anyone will tell you that I'm not usually a zombie movie kind of gal. I suppose I don't have anything to say that my fellow 5-star reviewers haven't already mentioned, but I just wanted to get my two cents in. Warm Bodies is very compelling, funny, and well-acted. Nicholas Hoult is especially wonderful as "R", totally nailing the sympathetic character, the facial expressions, even the zombie walk!! He and Teresa Palmer have a very sweet chemistry, and their characters' unorthodox love story is certainly the heart of this great film. R and his zombie pals are not the mindless, heartless creatures that you'll find in other zombie flicks, but are very human, with thoughts, feelings, and a sense of humor. The violence isn't overly graphic and the romance is chaste and sweet, leaning more towards a Tim Burton-ish feel than Twilight, in my opinion. However, while this movie is just fine for teenagers, the adult language (several S-words and one F-word) restrains me from deeming it tween-friendly. But don't let that discourage you!! Ultimately, this is an endearing story about the power of love. If you're in the market for a movie with touching romance, clever humor, a great soundtrack and top-notch performances, please do yourself a favor and go see Warm Bodies! It will leave you feeling, well...warm!!
Directed by Jonathan Levine, from a screenplay he adapted from the novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies is one of those weird cross-genre films - A romantic zombie flick? Really? - that has the potential to be either truly fun or truly awful. Fortunately for everyone concerned, Warm Bodies is truly fun. It's also a really well done film, the all too rare kind where the direction, the script, the actors, the cinematography and the make-up and effects, all mesh together perfectly and make the resulting whole far more than the sum of its parts.
Set in a genre-standard post-apocalyptic near-future where the world has been overrun by zombies and what's left of humanity has retreated to fortress-like enclaves, the film begins with an inner monologue narration from the mind - or what's left of it - of a walking-dead boy (superbly played by Nicholas Hoult) named "R". (He used to have a name but all he can remember now is that it began with an "R".) In a hilariously deadpan stream of consciousness, he tells us about his existence - you can't really call it "life" after all - shuffling around an abandoned airport, bumping into other zombies, and periodically getting hungry and going off after the only thing zombies ever seem to eat - humans. The only connection R has is to another zombie named "M" (Rob Corddry), who, like him, still possesses a flicker of brain activity:
"This is my best friend. By best friend I mean we occasionally grunt and stare awkwardly at each other. We even have almost conversations sometimes. Days pass this way but sometimes we even find actual words, words like 'hungry' and 'city.' "
R also has connections to a handful of objects he finds - snow globes, vinyl records and such - and keeps in a derelict jet he hangs out in when he not busy shuffling around and going off to eat people. He's not even sure why he keeps them anymore except that, now and then, they seem to stir some memory or echo of a memory in him. Which helps keep him from sliding further down the zombie slope, at the bottom of which are the "bonies" - desiccated, skin-covered skeletons with no trace of humanity left. "They'll eat anything with a heartbeat," R tells us, immediately adding "I mean, I will too, but at least I'm conflicted about it."
Not too far from the airport is a former sports stadium that a group of humans led by General Grigio (John Malkovich) has turned into a walled fortress. Periodically they have to send out foraging parties into the city to scrounge for things like medical supplies. Young people are recruited to be the foragers, mainly because they can run the fastest, an important survival trait in any zombie apocalypse. One of these parties that gets sent out includes Grigio's daughter, Julie (a very convincing Teresa Palmer), her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco), and her best friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton).
And as fate would have it, when R and M and a gaggle of other zombies go shuffling out of the airport in search of human flesh, they stumble across Julie and her fellow scroungers in an abandoned pharmacy. During the fight, R ends up killing and eating Perry's brain (to be fair though, this was after Perry shot him). As R explains, one of the reasons zombies are so drawn to eat brains is because by doing so, they experience, at least temporarily, the memories of the person they're eating. It's the closest thing they can experience to being alive once more, hence their monomaniacal interest in craving brains. And having eaten Perry's brain, the moment R encounters Julie and their eyes meet, he experiences Perry's love for her, immediately feeling compelled not to eat her but to save her, setting into motion a chain of events that will change them and everyone around them.
There's a not-so-subtle undercurrent of Romeo and Juliet worked into the plot - sans most of the angst - which you can see in the names of the principal characters: "R" for Romeo, "Julie" for Juliet, "M" for Mercutio, "Perry" for Paris (especially if you use the French pronunciation, i.e. Pa-ree), and "Nora", who wants to be a nurse, for The Nurse. It may sound a bit cheesy, but it's cleverly done and it works surprisingly well.
The performaces are quite good for the most part. Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, X-Men: First Class) shines as R, managing to be appropriately dead-faced and shuffling as a zombie while allowing his flicker of humanity to be seen first solely through his eyes, then slowly and gradually becoming more expressive as his contact with Julie causes him to change. Teresa Palmer (December Boys, I am Number Four) brings believability to Julie, showing a wary toughness that marks her as a survivor but also a willingness to see the changes in R and to respond to them. It also doesn't hurt that Palmer is actually athletic enough to make her running scenes look authentic - you have no trouble believing that this girl could indeed outrun a pack of hungry zombies. Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) is subtly effective as R's fellow zombie M, in whom the changes being wrought are more visible and in some ways more keenly felt. On the slightly minus side, John Malkovich plays his General Grigio as something of a stock Malkovich portrayal, the kind you're familiar with from a lot of his movies, from Con Air and Red to Burn Before Reading. It's not bad, but you never get a sense that you're seeing anything but John Malkovich going through his paces. The film would probably have been better off with someone less well known in the role.
For those of you who've read the book, the film follows the book reasonably closely. The film is, I think, lighter in tone in a number of places. Perry's role has been trimmed a fair amount to keep the focus on R and Julie. And the hierarchy between the bonies and ordinary zombies isn't as clearly drawn. The only reason I don't rate this a full five stars though is because of one significant difference in how the climactic confrontation plays out for the main characters. I won't spoil anything by laying it out, but it'll be obvious to anyone who's read the book and I think the film would've been better if it had followed the book in this case.
But all that said, it's remarkable at how well Warm Bodies actually works as a film. It stays true to the basic tropes of the zombie apocalypse genre, making it work for zombie-film fans, but also manages to blend in both comedic and romantic elements in a believable way, making it work in those genres as well.
Highly recommended as, however improbable this must sound, a fun romantic zombie film that everyone can enjoy.
on November 12, 2013
"Cold Body, Warm Heart" seems a perfectly appropriate description for this movie. I realize this was probably intended for the teen, zombie-loving market, but I think people of all ages can appreciate and enjoy it. I'll admit that I decided to watch this movie because the teens that I teach recommended it. I thought it would probably be silly and all teeny-bopper-y, much below my dignity, but I thought, well, it will give me something to talk to them about. I was very pleasantly surprised at what a good movie it actually is.
It's set in the near future after some strange virus left a good portion of the world's population "undead." Naturally, those who have not been infected have sealed themselves away from the others for their own protection. In this movie, a normal girl has a chance encounter with dangerous zombies, one of whom eats her boyfriend's brain and develops the feelings for the girl that were housed there. They're drawn together and love prevails over all, of course.
Obviously, this would be a great date movie for teens, but it seems a bit more than that, too. It has a depth of symbolism that is intellectually satisfying as much as it is emotionally satisfying. It's definitely worth watching if you want to believe in the power of love.