Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton
Running Time: 1 hr 37 mins
Release Date: February 1, 2013
PLOT: Undead teenager R (Hoult) starts to feel human again when he falls for living being Julie (Palmer).
WHO’S IT FOR? Fans of zombie films will likely get a kick out of this one; a fondness for the story of “Romeo and Juliet” certainly won’t hurt either.
No couple has been exhumed more often than poor Romeo and Juliet, who have been been through a lot when it comes to film adaptations of their unrequited love in Tinseltown. While their tale may be the ultimate story of the power of love (with rebellion, and suicide!) one can imagine William “I Have A Ton of Credits on IMDb” Shakespeare didn’t intend for “Romeo and Juliet” to take on the form it has in recent films. Since the 1500’s, Romeo has become a gnome, (Gnomeo and Juliet), a vampire (Twilight) and now he’s a zombie with Warm Bodies.
Arriving only a few months after The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and from the same studio, Warm Bodies can be seen as a parody on the type of over-serious R+J attitude that made Twilight so dreary. In fact, with its attitude about it, which is not serious at all, Warm Bodies is an indication that big, possibly cheesy concepts can be believable, if they’re not so serious at the same time. Here is a movie that relies on the power of love as its central concept, but it can’t get lumped into something like Twilight, where such magnitude is considered to be an absolute fact. No, Warm Bodies is a bit brighter than that.
Hoult’s zombie, R, even has the same constructs as Robert Pattinson’s vampire Edward Cullen – a handsome cold boy with a curse that initially keeps him from being with someone he loves, especially in a sexual way.
It’s this element and others, (along with a soundtrack that is so aware of itself that it even has someone change Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” to something else during a makeup scene) that keeps Warm Bodies fairly sharp in its handling of an expected arc. As for the story, well, it’s still a simple tale has no problem succumbing to conventions, and it even has odd lapses in editing (which to be expected in films coming out in January and February, I guess).
While the film is driven by solid zombie/human chemistry between Hoult and Palmer, the crucial key element is director Jonathan Levine, who previously used acute emotional control in 50/50, a film about living with cancer. Levine keeps the attitude of this story in check, even when it plays directly into expectations of audience members who simply want a romance from a zombie movie. The film never takes the apocalypse, the zombies, or even itself too seriously.
In terms of modern zombie movies, Warm Bodies is in crowded company, and tough company at that. It’s not as clever as Zombieland or wholly entertaining as the hilarious Shaun of the Dead. However, as a story of two teenagers grasping the power of love (excuse me as I throw some sparkles in the air), Warm Bodies assumes notability with the offhand internet chide: “still a better love story than Twilight.”
FINAL SCORE: 6/10