The Scoop: 2013 PG-13, directed by Jonathan Levine and starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, and Analeigh Tipton
Tagline: He’s still dead but he’s getting warmer
Summary Capsule: Girl falls for a zombie in the midst of the apocalypse
Joel’s Rating: 3 out of 5 brains
Joel’s Review: Two things about me: I don’t usually enjoy romance films (I like my fantasy with swords or starships, thank you) and I don’t much care for zombie movies, either. Actually, that stands for most slasher type films, since the only real plot is built around how many gruesome deaths the movie has. So why in the world did I want to see Warm Bodies? Because I do like weird movies. Sometimes, just having to ask why someone would even think of a film premise and see it through production makes me want to see the end result. Sometimes the film is bad, sometimes it is so bad that it is funny (yes, I like old B-movies), and sometimes it comes out OK.
Warm Bodies is a story of zombie-meets-girl. The world has been in a typical zombie apocalypse where the surviving people have resigned themselves to their new reality and the zombies are just wandering the landscape looking for a snack. Except our hero (???) happens to eat part of the brain of a man and then sees the woman that the man loved, and this touches the zombie and sets off a change in him. He wants to keep her safe and she begins to see the changes in him, something that humans have not seen before.
Well, for zombie movies, this is NOT at all a slasher flick, so there are nice touches that a true horror movie likely would never go into. Our protagonist might be a cannibalistic zombie at the start, but his brain is still working. He has lost some of his memories, but he is thinking clearly and even feels remorse when he can’t control himself and attacks people. We also get a glimpse of zombies when they aren’t chasing people around, get to look at humans in their community after having to deal with the zombie plague for years, and what something like that might do to average human beings whose lives have completely changed. Many of the changes in ‘R’, our protagonist zombie, come without any emphasis of them; for example, I noticed when he took his first breath over halfway through the movie.
The love story part does move quickly as it does in many of these ‘gimmick’ romances (look at Disney animateds, for example.), but I kind of see the need here. One thing that some viewers may consider bad is that there are many questions left unexplained in the movie. We never hear what exactly started the zombie plague, for example, but when I thought about it after Warm Bodies ended, I realized that those details really aren’t required to tell this story and might have even distracted the viewer from the important part.
I didn’t mind this, but the movie does bounce a little bit from one style to another. It has some really funny moments, some sweet romantic stuff, and some major violence and gross images as well. I found myself wondering if, now and then, the writers and filmmakers wanted to remind us that this is a decimated world every now and then. As I said, I like odd movies, so I thought it was a good touch. And Warm Bodies has some very nicely done scenes and some well-thought out ideas.
My biggest drawback in the movie was the Boneys. These are skeletal creatures that are referred to as zombies that have given up or rotted too much and have become unthinking monsters. In the end, I didn’t see any real point for these ‘Boneys’ except to make the big fight scenes and the climax of the movie work (no spoiler there, they show a bit of this in the trailers). It reminded me of films from the 80’s and 90’s that were not action movies but had to end with the action sequence (Kindergarten Cop, for example, cute comedy until the end where it becomes shoot-em-up cops). I felt that they made the Boneys simply because they needed a ‘black hat’ type other than the zombies themselves. A clever writer could have done it without adding the unneeded element, but here we have to have a big fight scene. The CGI for the Boneys isn’t very convincing either , and while the zombies come in all shapes and sizes like humans do, the Boneys seem to be all the same size, shape, etc. Apparently all the people who become them are the same height and skeletal build.
There are a couple other minor things, like the zombies being able to smell humans from a distance but one girl early in the movie somehow escapes notice by a group of living dead, but none of the smaller things took me out of enjoying this movie. I approached this movie with no expectations, just a mild curiosity, and found that I enjoyed it a lot. It is an off-beat, strange little movie and will never be counted amongst the list of classic films of the world, but I might need to get the DVD so I can watch it once in a while.
- Zombies like Bob Dylan
- Zombies will carry leftovers in their pockets (if they have pockets) for later snackies.
- Women can be very forgiving of someone who ate the brains of their boyfriend.
Nora: Like… like you’re attracted to him…
Julie: No, I don’t…
Nora: Like… he could be your boyfriend? Your zombie… zombie boyfriend?
Nora: I mean, I know it’s really hard to meet guys right now, with the apocalypse and stuff. Trust me. And like I know that you miss Perry. But Julie, this is just weird. Like, I wish the internet was still working so I could just look up what whatever it is that’s wrong with you.
R: [voice-over] They call these guys Bonies. They don’t bother us much, but they’ll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I’m conflicted about it.
Soldier #2: Copy that, we’re seeing corpses fighting skeletons, sir.
R: [voice-over, introducing M] This is my best friend. By best friend, I mean we occasionally grunt and stare awkwardly at each other. We even have almost conversations sometimes.
R: [voice-over] Even though we can’t communicate, we do share a similar taste in food. Traveling in packs just kind of makes sense. Especially when everyone and their grandmother is trying to shoot you in the head all the time.
R: [voice-over] God we move slow. This could take a while.
R: [voice-over] This date is not going well. I want to die all over again.
R: Wait here.
M: [quietly] Be careful. Ok?
[R nods and starts to walk away]
M: [loudly] So I’ll wait here!
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Shaun of the Dead
- An American Werewolf in London