Warm Bodies - Review
Cynics will see Warm Bodies and instantly dismiss it as a tired old cash-in on the Twilight bandwagon. Meanwhile, those who are a bit more hopeful might be expecting something along the lines of 2009's Zombieland. Both assumptions would be wrong. In regards to the Twilight comparison, it's a fair assumption, it's essentially the same basic plot but with zombies. However, Warm Bodies is much more self aware, it understands that its central conceit is rather silly but runs with it nevertheless.
Those expecting a zombie parody though, are likely to be disappointed. This film is first and foremost a romantic-comedy. Writer and director Jonathan Levine makes Warm Bodies a movie for people that might not have any interest in zombie movies. The closest the film gets to a reference of undead fandom is a quick joke involving the blu-ray box art of Lucio Fulci's Zombie.
As a rom-com with a twist however, Warm Bodies is a solid, if rather predictable, jaunt. The film sets itself up quick, with lead actor Nicholas Hoult delivering a rather witty monologue as R, a zombie who inhabits the city's airport. After saving human survivor Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, from a horde of fellow walking corpses, so begins their bizarre relationship, but not until he's finished snacking on her ex-boyfriend's brain.
If anything, the film lacks any genuine black-comedy, despite the tone, and the set-up, suggesting as much. No gross-out moments or necrophilia gags, just some dry comedy to make you laugh a little. This is somewhat related to the fact that the movie is remarkably gore-free, for the most part, considering that this is a film containing zombies; most likely to ensure the film was stamped with that all important 12A rating, to draw in those tween Twilight fans.
While the first half of the film maintains the quirky sense of humour and two strong performances from its leads, by about the half-way mark, the plot then descends into a series of humdrum chases, as R and Julie are hounded by both the walking dead, and the remaining human survivors. Since the first half of the film has been, ironically, emphasising the human characteristics of the zombies, the film instead cooks up "Bonies", undead who have given up all hope and have become skeleton-husks, to act as a menace.
Just as the Bonies make for a less than stellar threat, the human antagonists are represented by John Malkovitch, who leads the surviving humans and is Julie's father, and quite frankly is wasted in the role. As a character, he's thinly drawn and barely even shown throughout most of the film. When he is onscreen, Malkovitch plays the role straight up and rather bland. It would have been more fun to see him ham it up a little, which he can do (ever seen Eragon?).
Overall, it's easy to point out the flaws in a film like this but as a straight forward Romeo and Juliet tale with zombies, Warm Bodies is an enjoyable enough movie. It has a good pair of leads, and even as a zombie Nicholas Hoult manages to out act all of the Twilight cast. While this is unlikely to win over diehard zombie fans, those looking for a (slightly) offbeat comedy, or those coming from to this from Isaac Marion's novel, could do much worse than Warm Bodies.
Warm Bodies is released on DVD and Blu-Ray, in the UK, on June 17th.
© 2013 LudoLogic