Warm Bodies

warm bodiesReleased: 2013
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich

More lukewarm, but then I’m double the age of the target audience


After a brief period of unpopularity zombies are back to being the supernatural bad guys of the moment. Vampires are on their way out and I blame (or depending on your point of view, thank) The Walking Dead for the resurgence of the zombie. It could be worse, we could be over-run with sparkly bloody nightcrawlers for all eternity. The latest zombie flick is Warm Bodies, a light-hearted look at the brain eating undead which claims to be cinema’s first zom-rom-com (although I’m pretty sure Shaun of the Dead also used that marketing technique) and is told from the point of view of R, a zombie who isn’t entirely happy about his place in society.

Based on Isaac Marion’s young adult novel (which is itself very loosely based on Romeo and Juliet), Nicholas Hoult stars as R a young zombie who still has some of his soul intact and knows there must be more to death than shuffling through the airport where he has made his home. One day while out hunting for fresh meat R encounters Julie (and eats her boyfriend Perry) and saves her from his zombie friends. Slowly, an unlikely romance develops and R starts to regain human emotions and hope that he could somehow live again. Obstacles to true love include zombies who want to eat Julie, humans who want to shoot R in the head and skeletons who just want to kill and eat everyone.

Nicholas Hoult is great as R and has developed into a fantastically charismatic young actor. If this doesn’t sound too daft, he really injects life into R – particularly when the character is at his most zombieish (it’s a word, I made it a word). Teresa Palmer is decent enough as Julie – feisty and handy with a gun but soft and romantic when required. She’s not hugely charismatic but she’s not annoying, she’s ok. And therein lies the problem with the entire film. It’s ok really. I laughed four times, I screwed up my eyes once or twice at the Bonies and I “awwwed” at the romance once but I was never wholly convinced by Warm Bodies as a comedy, a scary film or a romance. It doesn’t satisfy completely in any genre and to be perfectly honest if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen all the best bits.

There are some nice performances by the rest of the cast – Rob Corddry as older zombie M is good and John Malkovich does his slightly crazy act as well as he always does. The narration by Hoult gets a little tiresome after ten minutes or so, as an introduction it was fine but over an hour into the film it became intrusive and I wanted to be left alone to interpret the film myself. The effects are ok, particularly the Bonies but like everything else they are just good enough – not bad but not great either.

I am aware that I’m probably double the age of the film’s target audience. A post-apocalyptic retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a strangely good looking zombie as the hero probably isn’t geared towards a mildly cynical thirty-something. The 17 year-old me would probably have loved Warm Bodies and I imagine that no matter how this fares in the cinema, the DVD/Blu-Ray release will be a huge hit with the teen market. I’ll stick to watching Shaun of the Dead for the hundredth time instead.

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