Movie Review: Warm Bodies

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After the zombie apocalypse, a self-aware zombie called R meets and makes a connection with the living Julie, changing the course of zombie history.

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Jonathan Levine, 2013

R spends his post-life days ambling around a zombie-filled airport with his best friend (or the zombie he grunts at the most), M. They decide to head into the city for a nice meal of fresh human brains just as Julie and her friends go on a scavenging raid to find supplies for the fortified human settlement nearby. In the confrontation between the two parties R kills Julie’s boyfriend, discovering his memories by eating his brains and falling in love with Julie in the process. He saves Julie by making it seem like she’s a zombie too, and the two connect as they hide out together, making R more and more human in the process – and rekindling the human spirit in the undead hordes.

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The central conceit of this film – that love has the ability to warm even the coldest heart (ha) and cure the living dead – is one that you have to give yourself over to before you see it. No matter how ridiculous this sounds, it’s happening, and it’s best to get any disbelief out of the way before you see the movie so you can enjoy the sweet story for what it is: a fantastic vehicle for Nicholas Hoult. Okay, there’s actually more going on than just that, but the movie rests on his ambling shoulders and he really brings the romantic R to life (ha again). The film is narrated by R, and most of the film’s best and funniest moments are the matches between his inner monologue and what’s happening on screen. Teresa Palmer is also good as Julie, although I got a distinctly Kristen Stewart-esque vibe from her, thanks in part to her looking a far bit like K-Stew. There’s some macabre humour going on, but it’s not even as dark as Shaun of the Dead, instead opting for a light-hearted romantic vibe with a bit of action towards the end as the “Bonies”, zombies who have lost all their humanity along with their skin and muscle, start to attack.

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There’s some decent support work from John Malkovich as Julie’s soldier father and Rob Corddry as M, and the idea of a zombie Romeo & Juliet, complete with balcony scene, is a fun one. It’s the tone and the light touch that really make this film – it could have been dour and heavy-handed, but there’s enough humour and sweetness to keep it afloat, and I found that the hour-and-a-half run time went by quickly.  It’s not the most beautiful movie you’ll see, but it’s shot effectively and simply, to serve the straightforward story – it allows the writing to speak for itself, although there are some clever and funny visual gags.  The only trouble is that once you pick apart the mythology it kind of falls apart; that and the fact that the Bonies are essentially just there to have a truly evil villain that both parties can gang up on, rather than retaining the grey-area “misunderstanding” storytelling that the rest of the movie explores

Warm Bodies on IMDb

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