I didn’t want to see Warm Bodies when it came out last week, because I thought the premise sounded stupid. Zombies cured by the power of love? What is this, Twilight? Way to ruin a perfectly good monster. But it’s amazing how much Warm Bodies seemed to improve when compared to Identity Thief (apparently written by someone with an icepick in their brain) and Side Effects (Contagion with extra boringness). So let’s talk about some zombies!
A zombie becomes obsessed with a human and decides to protect her instead of eating her.
I was expecting Warm Bodies to be Twilight with zombies, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually a smart satire on the genre. Movies like The Apparition have taught me that a good premise doesn’t necessarily equate to a good movie, but I had no idea a bad premise could yield a good movie until Warm Bodies.
Even though it plans to talk about curing the zombie plague later in the movie, Warm Bodies doesn’t waste a lot of time talking about how it got to the point where almost everyone was a zombie or whether it was a virus or not. I guess that way no one could argue when it turned out that getting a girlfriend can cure you.
Zombification caused by the T-virus, wherein ‘T’ stands for ‘Terrible Loneliness’
Having a movie star a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) who can’t do anything other than moan and has one facial expression (which I like to call ‘accidental incontinence’) is a problem, because how are you supposed to identify with this character? They get around it in Warm Bodies by doing voice over narration for R’s thoughts (one of the few examples of modern voice over where it’s actually necessary and useful). R, it seems, is an emo hipster zombie, hanging out in his personal airplane listening to 80s ballads on a record player.
Oops, I crapped my pants.
Warm Bodies had a very small window in the beginning of the movie to convince me that it wasn’t on the Twilight bandwagon and it succeeded right out of the gate. We get a tour of R’s airport home and as he passes a zombie airport security guard still scanning people and starts talking about how he wishes he could go back to a time when people communicated their feelings meaningfully while a scene of everyone ignoring each other to text on their phones is shown on screen, I knew I was dealing with a smart writer here.
Well done, Jonathan Levine and Isaac Marion. Well done.
R is a decent guy a heart. He’s got a best friend M (Rob Corddry), whom he occasionally moans at, and he feels conflicted about eating brains, which he has to do in order to feel human again. You see, zombies don’t sleep, dream, or remember, but when you eat someone’s brains you see their memories. So it’s like the entire zombie population is wandering the streets looking not for food but for zombie heroin.
Lets go score an 8 Ball of hot girl brains.
Then R sees Julie (Theresa Palmer) while she and her crew are out in the city looking for medicine. He kills and eats her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) to get to know her better, and then rescues her from the other zombies by smearing some of his blood on her face to make her smell not human.
If that little bit of blood overpowers her entire body’s odors,
it must be the stinkiest blood on the face of the earth.
One of the reasons I liked Warm Bodies so much is that Julie is no Bella Swan. She has a personality and a self preservation instinct and is quite sensibly terrified of R. She tries to run away every chance she gets and it’s not until R has to save her butt like three or four more times that she eventually gets used to the idea that he’s not just saving her brains for a snack later.
JULIE: So, like, tell me about all your hopes and dreams, R.
JULIE: Oh, sweet, I always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower too!
R also knows that he’s creepy and tries really hard not to be creepy, but since he’s a zombie with a fixed stare and a limited range of motion, it doesn’t always work out, which leads to many moments of hilarity.
I am not copping a feel, I swear.
But R and Julie don’t just have R’s zombification to deal with. There’s also her dad John Malkovich), who’s the leader of the surviving human enclave and (quite understandably) is not open to any suggestions that love might be the cure for the Terrible Loneliness virus. So dad and his soldiers want to kill R and R’s pals who have been touched by the power of lurv.
Julie, even if he were alive I would forbid you from dating him! He’s wearing a hoodie for god’s sake!
But that still doesn’t give us anyone we can kill in an action scene, so there’s also a lower subset of zombies that R describes as having gone crazy and pulled all their skin off. They’re called Bonies and they’re after both the lurv-affected zombies and the humans because the movie needs some mindless killing machines we don’t feel bad about shooting in the head.
How they go from people with no skin to desiccated corpses from the Alien movies, I don’t know.
So Warm Bodies ended up ticking all the boxes for me. I wasn’t sitting there in the theater thinking about how it could have been improved, which makes it seem flat out amazing given that I was expecting another Twilight fiasco. Therefore I recommend Warm Bodies to you. It’s not like Twilight, but both Twilight fans and Twilight haters should like it, which makes it a rare thing indeed.
As a special treat for sticking around to the end of this review, here is the How it Should Have Ended Lonely Zombie Song, which always reminds me of R (who sadly does not sing).
Thumbs up for a Warm Bodies Broadway musical?