Warm Bodies

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In a world nearly overrun by the dead, lonely zombie R falls in love with a still living woman and does his best to protect her, but when his heart starts beating again it might be her that has to protect him.

Okay, Valentine’s Day confession time on my part. As much as you meatsacks mean little more than dinner for most part (there are a few among the living I’ve chosen to call friend instead of meal), there is one among you who holds by unbeating heart in her hands, sometimes quite literally (she thought it was really funny the last time she did it). Yes, yours truly, the cold hearted zombie bastard that I am (again, quite literally), the undead asshole with an extreme hatred toward those with a pulse (well, more annoyance than hatred) has a girlfriend among the living. Yeah, that’s right, for all my complaints, for all the bitching and moaning, for all the…something or other, I date a woman with a pulse, a woman who happens to be the love of my unlife. How does that work? Well, it’s complicated to say the least. I’ll have to get a bit more into that with my next Zombie Zoo, the topic of which will be all about dating the undead. I’ll just say that no matter how it works, I’m just happy it does. She accepts my undead nerdiness and I leave it at that. This Valentine’s Day review is all for you baby. I love you Amanda. Anyways, enough of this sappy stuff, let’s get on with the review.

Our romantic zombie film begins in an unspecified future where the undead have overrun most of the planet, congregating in large group while the living hole up in walled off cities. In this world we find R, a member of the living dead, wandering around a massive airport populated by both zombies and boneys, zombies who have become little more than skin and bone wrapped around an aggressive, angry monster. Or as R puts it, “They’ll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, so will I, but at least I’m conflicted about it.” As R meanders around the airport we are treated to an inner monologue from the sad and melancholy zombie about how much he wishes he could remember who he is and where he came from, having no memory whatsoever about his life before becoming a zombie. After a good wander through the airport, R retreats to his sanctuary, a giant 747 plane sitting on the tarmac and stuffed full of various souvenirs he has found while exploring the world he knows, souvenirs that he hopes will help jar his memory. Before long, hunger begins to nag at him and he goes to meet up with his good friend M to discuss dinner plans, well, more grunt and moan at each other. As R, M, and a grouping of other zombies make their way toward the city proper, a group of living humans are preparing to make a scavenging trip outside the walls of their massive complex in the hopes of rounding up medical supplies. Included in this group are Julie, the daughter of the human’s leader Grigio, and her boyfriend Perry. Eventually Julie and her group manage to find a medical supply store and while they search through the store, R and his zombies come upon them and a feast begins. Nearly everyone from Julie’s group is consumed, and this includes an unlucky Perry who has his brains devoured by R. A strange thing happens though as it turns out that eating a person’s brains will give the zombie that ate them all the thoughts and feelings of the unlucky victim. R now finds himself feeling a sense of love and devotion toward the uneaten Julie who is terrifyingly awaiting her fate. He quickly marks her with his blood so she’ll smell like a zombie, and escorts her away with the group of zombies, pretending she is a zombie as well, using the ruse to get her onto his 747 hideout. As the two grow closer R finds himself falling madly in love Julie, a strange thing for a zombie to feel, stranger still, R’s heart begins to beat again as his feelings toward Julie grow. Now it’s up to Julie to convince the living that maybe zombies can be saved and R to convince the other zombies that there’s another way for them, otherwise both the living and the dead may find themselves overwhelmed by the boneys.

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{R and Julie get closer to each other}

I have to admit, I’m kind of a sap for romantic horror flicks, especially those of the zombie variety. Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of them to choose from, Zombie Honeymoon, Deadheads, Return of the Living Dead 3 if you think about it, and even Cemetery Man to a lesser degree, so they exist but they’re few and far between. Out of all the romantic zombie movies I’ve seen though, I think Warm Bodies is now my favorite. Sure, it’s a little out there and more implausible than most zombie movies with the whole rebeating heart thing, but it’s still a heartwarming tale. In fact, my only real complaint is that in reality zombies love being undead and you’ll never catch us wishing we were still among the living. Apparently, Warm Bodies is a book as well, but I honestly didn’t know that going into the film, so I’ve never read it though I did read a quick synopsis. From what I read the movie seems to be very close to the book for the most part with only a few differences such as events not in the film (R gets married to another zombie in the beginning, the boneys show pictures of the battles between the living and the dead when Julie runs away from the plane, the zombies chasing R into the walled off town so it appears he’s human), the boneys having more of a part (as well as them being more aware of who and what they are and fighting to make sure the status quo isn’t changed), and being more of a metaphysical book (people became zombies because the sins of humanity brought about a dark force that wanted to show human evil or something like that). I can’t say for sure if the book or the movie is better without having read the book, but simply judging by the little bit I did read I’m thinking this might be one of the few occurrences where the film was actually better. I’m going to have to read the book to make sure though. Anyways, enough about the book, let’s take a look at the movie.

WARM BODIES

{The good movie, not the shitty one Julie’s holding}

As I said, the story is more than a bit implausible even for a zombie flick but it’s still very enjoyable and touching. I think they handled the love story aspect of the film very well, making it cute but not overly sappy. The way R’s heart slowly starts to beat as he falls deeper and deeper in love with Julie, and how his new found feelings begin to infect the other zombies was very moving, and I couldn’t help but smile as it played out over the course of the film. There’s even a bit of a Romeo and Juliet aspect to the movie, R is Romeo, Julie is Juliet, Julie’s boyfriend Perry is Paris, R’s friend M is Mercutio, and Julie’s friend Nora is Juliet’s nurse. There’s even a scene later on where Julie is on a balcony and R is trying to get her attention that’s very reminiscent of Romeo confessing his love to Juliet under similar circumstances. I also liked some of the commentary for the film such as R trying to find himself, much as we all are, and how we’re all trying to reconnect to what we think it means to be human but often get lost in what we believe we’re supposed to be. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is near the beginning when R is wandering around the airport and he wonders what it was like before everyone was a zombie, when people could actually communicate with one another. As he ponders the thought we are treated to a flashback of the airport full of living humans where no one is paying the slightest bit of attention towards each other, everyone is staring at their phones instead. It was another great bit of commentary that is actually played out several times over the course of the film. I also liked that they never explained how the zombie apocalypse started as it’s not very important to the film. The story is about what’s happening in the now so how it started isn’t important.

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{R tries to teach Julie how to walk like a zombie}

Though I loved the story (as ludicrous as it was), what really makes everything work so well is the great acting from most of the film’s actors. Nicolaus Hoult does great with R, not only are his inner monologues humorous and interesting with how he says them (or thinks them), but his mannerisms are perfect. Apparently, he would refrain from blinking the entire time he was on camera to more accurately portray a zombie. Actually, all the zombie actors do a great job playing a zombie, handling the way a zombie would move flawlessly. There’s also John Malkovich’s performance, but I think you already know how great he must have done. He’s amazing in almost everything he’s played in. I think my favorite though, even if he doesn’t have much screen time, is Rob Corddry as M. I’ve loved the humorous performances of Rob Corddry in his previous appearances, so getting to see him as a zombie made me smile. The only person I can say dragged a bit as far as their performance was Teresa Plamer who played Julie. It’s not that she’s a bad actress, she just seems to have trouble projecting emotion on screen. Out of everyone I think she had the weakest performance.

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{Rob Corddry’s M trying to have a conversation with Nicholas Hoult’s R}

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{John Malkovich about to shoot something as only John Malkovich can}

The effects aren’t anything major for the most part but the zombie make up was very well done. Don’t expect torn up or bloody zombies because that’s not what these zombies are. They look more like freshly dead corpses than rotting ghouls, and I think their makeup helped with that portrayal. It worked better for the movie for them to look a little fresher than most of their cinematic cousins. The old corpse look was left to the boneys who are little more than skin and bones. I liked their design but the use of CGI kind of killed it for me. I wish they had used more practical effects because though they do look interesting, the CGI makes them look very fake. One of the few things done wrong with this movie.

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{The zombies proper}

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{And the boneys}

Still, my few complaints aside, this is one of my favorite zombie movies, a heartwarming love story between a male zombie and a living woman. Expect a few sappy lines but not too much. This a must see for any zombie fan but a perfect zombie movie for the Valentine’s Day couple.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Jonathan Levine (50/50, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past, Jack and the Giant Slayer), Teresa Palmer (I Am Number 4, Take Me Home Tonight), John Malkovich (Red, Shadow of the Vampire), and Rob Corddry (Hell Baby, Children’s Hospital)

Released By: Summit Entertainment, Make Movies, and Lionsgate

Release Year: 2013

Release Type: Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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