Warm Bodies: A Flickcharter’s Movie Review
The zombie genre gets a fresh spin in Warm Bodies. What at first seems like nothing more than Twilight as visualized by George A. Romero becomes something more as the film progresses. It manages to turn the whole genre on its head in a new and interesting way.
We enter the world of Warm Bodies through the eyes of R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who spends every day wandering through an airport before coming back to his sanctuary on a deserted airplane. Through voiceover, we learn how he has become a zombie and how he lives day-to-day. He doesn’t want to eat, but forced to because of his zombie instincts.
Everything changes when R comes in contact with Julie (Teresa Palmer). When he sees her, he doesn’t get the urge to eat her, but instead wants to save her as his feelings develop. By taking her into his inner sanctum, their bond starts to grow – especially as R begins to experience changes in his own body. These changes start to rub off on the other zombies, who begin to feel the same changes R is going through.
Desperate to get the word out, R has to tell Julie what is happening. He will have to dodge the “Bonies” so he and his fellow zombies don’t get torn to pieces, keep a low profile with Julie’s friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton), and dodge the leader of the humans (John Malkovich), who just happens to be Julie’s father. Has love ever been this complicated?
Brilliantly brought to life by screenwriter/director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness) from Isaac Marion’s best-selling novel, Warm Bodies succeeds where others (like Twilight) have failed. He takes the conventions that Romero created with classics like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead and expands upon them.
One of Levine’s great innovations is that they can dream their victim’s thoughts while eating their brains is an interesting feat. The only victim we see R eat is actually Julie’s boyfriend (Dave Franco). Seeing his dreams come to life as R eats his brains is touching, even as it becomes obvious that the relationship between Julie and her boyfriend was strained.
If Warm Bodies played just like that, then the movie would be one-note, but thankfully the film is also very funny as we see the story through the eyes of the zombies. Rob Corddry in particular steals the show as M, R’s friend. Much of his performance is filled with grunting, but as he starts to experience the same changes as R, he gets a few more choice moments (like running over the “Bonies” with a truck) that provides a career-best performance by the end.
Warm Bodies breezes through its running time. It’s over before you know it, and at the end, some might feel cheated by the lack of raised stakes. The truth is that the stakes raise so fast at times that you might miss Levine’s intended effect. Hoult and Palmer have great chemistry together, but they also make us care for what happens to these characters. While other romances are often predictable, Warm Bodies defies this with solid execution throughout its love story.
Warm Bodies might look strange at first, but your skepticism will disappear as the plot develops. It’s very funny, extremely entertaining, and has a love story worth falling for. What’s not to like?
So How Does Warm Bodies Stand Up on My Flickchart?
What better way to stack up Warm Bodies than with one of our fellow new releases from this week, and the top two movies directed by Warm Bodies director Jonathan Levine:
In comparing this week’s other new release Bullet to the Head with Warm Bodies, it’s easy to point out the flaws in Sylvester Stallone‘s efforts faster than Levine’s. It’s unfortunate that the film is a big disappointment, despite the talent involved (Director Walter Hill and producer Joel Silver among them). Although there are good individual moments (and a performance from Christian Slater that remains interesting for how much scenery is chewed off at one time), Bullet to the Head is one you’re better off skipping than seeing at all. Make your date for Warm Bodies and put a bullet in Stallone’s head. He’s done!
Next we have the film that put director Jonathan Levine on the map. The Wackness is quite a fine film with moments that click, performances that shine, and a soundtrack that is off the charts. Despite its fun, it misses the boat of what makes Warm Bodies fun. The Wackness plays up its reality factor, which at times might be too hard for some audiences to take. While The Wackness is still definitely worth seeing, if you had to choose between this and Warm Bodies, Warm Bodies should take the win every time.
In his somewhat short career, Jonathan Levine has made four films, and the competition heats up as Warm Bodies goes up against the top of his peak with 50/50 – a sensational film that still holds its own a couple of years after its theatrical release. A film about cancer that could have been terrible or downright depressing, but instead, Levine and writer Will Reiser manged to make funny and sad simultaneously, with good performances across the board. The climb of Warm Bodies ends here, because the film is nowhere near that same height. In its defense, it doesn’t need to be. Warm Bodies just needs to be entertaining and innovative, and in that regard, it survives on its own. 50/50 still wins this matchup, but it’s because it’s excellent; Warm Bodies is just very good instead.