Reviews - Major Releases


Film Review: Warm Bodies

A misunderstood zombie falls in love in a genre mash-up that’s surprisingly sweet and funny.

Jan 31, 2013

-By Sarah Sluis


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371118-Warm_Bodies_Review_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An emotionally numb, destructive boy falls in love with strong, vibrant girl. And it changes both of them. This plot might describe a typical teen romance, but in the case of Warm Bodies, the boy, R, is a zombie and the girl, Julie, a zombie fighter.

R shuffles around an abandoned airport, grunting, with only dim memories of what came before. Although R is unable to talk, his opening voiceover fills the audience in on what it’s like to be a zombie. Then, for the most part, the nonverbal acting prowess of Nicholas Hoult, who plays R, takes over. When a pack of roving zombies, including R, attacks a group of humans, he eats the brains of Julie’s boyfriend and is instantly smitten, since they provide warm-fuzzy flashbacks to their courtship. He saves Julie (Teresa Palmer) from being eaten and takes her back to his hideout, a 747 filled with knickknacks and a vinyl record player. In an emotional leap, he manages to utter a few words to the girl. She remains unconvinced that he won’t gobble her up when the time comes.

After trying and failing to escape, Julie tentatively embraces the friendship that R offers. But she needs food, and eventually she’ll need to return to the survivors’ compound. As in most horror movies, the action is amped up by the duo taking unnecessary risks that inevitably lead to confrontations with the undead. But their attempts bind them to each other, and eventually to their joint mission: finding a way to cure the zombies. R’s growing affection for Julia appears to add some color to his skin, even making him feel cold. He can string together words again. Could love be the answer?

If vampire movies sublimate sexual tension, love between a zombie and a human might be about escaping depression, connecting with someone else, and—in this case literally—coming alive. Isaac Marion, author of the novel Warm Bodies, describes writing the book as he was undergoing an emotional deep thaw, and it’s likely others will find inspiration in his metaphorical take on that experience. There are also a couple of coy allusions to Romeo and Juliet, from a balcony scene to the leads’ names, but it’s equally interesting to compare the movie to films like Beauty and the Beast, Ghost or Twilight. Pairings between humans and supernatural creatures are nothing new, but the grotesqueness of a zombie certainly takes “opposites attract” to a whole new level.

A love story between a zombie and a human could have easily ended up seeming like a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit. Yet for a movie that combines so many genres, including horror, apocalypse, romance and comedy, there’s a remarkable control of tone. In the screening I attended, there was more audible laughter than I hear in most comedies. The suspense is enough to give you a jolt, and the romance is sweet as it rambles toward its foregone conclusion. Writer-director Jonathan Levine, who made a comedy-drama out of having cancer in 50/50, deserves credit for making all these moments connect with audiences. If Twilight were funnier, had a more proactive heroine and an uglier hero, it might be Warm Bodies.


Film Review: Warm Bodies

A misunderstood zombie falls in love in a genre mash-up that’s surprisingly sweet and funny.

Jan 31, 2013

-By Sarah Sluis


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1371118-Warm_Bodies_Review_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An emotionally numb, destructive boy falls in love with strong, vibrant girl. And it changes both of them. This plot might describe a typical teen romance, but in the case of Warm Bodies, the boy, R, is a zombie and the girl, Julie, a zombie fighter.

R shuffles around an abandoned airport, grunting, with only dim memories of what came before. Although R is unable to talk, his opening voiceover fills the audience in on what it’s like to be a zombie. Then, for the most part, the nonverbal acting prowess of Nicholas Hoult, who plays R, takes over. When a pack of roving zombies, including R, attacks a group of humans, he eats the brains of Julie’s boyfriend and is instantly smitten, since they provide warm-fuzzy flashbacks to their courtship. He saves Julie (Teresa Palmer) from being eaten and takes her back to his hideout, a 747 filled with knickknacks and a vinyl record player. In an emotional leap, he manages to utter a few words to the girl. She remains unconvinced that he won’t gobble her up when the time comes.

After trying and failing to escape, Julie tentatively embraces the friendship that R offers. But she needs food, and eventually she’ll need to return to the survivors’ compound. As in most horror movies, the action is amped up by the duo taking unnecessary risks that inevitably lead to confrontations with the undead. But their attempts bind them to each other, and eventually to their joint mission: finding a way to cure the zombies. R’s growing affection for Julia appears to add some color to his skin, even making him feel cold. He can string together words again. Could love be the answer?

If vampire movies sublimate sexual tension, love between a zombie and a human might be about escaping depression, connecting with someone else, and—in this case literally—coming alive. Isaac Marion, author of the novel Warm Bodies, describes writing the book as he was undergoing an emotional deep thaw, and it’s likely others will find inspiration in his metaphorical take on that experience. There are also a couple of coy allusions to Romeo and Juliet, from a balcony scene to the leads’ names, but it’s equally interesting to compare the movie to films like Beauty and the Beast, Ghost or Twilight. Pairings between humans and supernatural creatures are nothing new, but the grotesqueness of a zombie certainly takes “opposites attract” to a whole new level.

A love story between a zombie and a human could have easily ended up seeming like a bad “Saturday Night Live” skit. Yet for a movie that combines so many genres, including horror, apocalypse, romance and comedy, there’s a remarkable control of tone. In the screening I attended, there was more audible laughter than I hear in most comedies. The suspense is enough to give you a jolt, and the romance is sweet as it rambles toward its foregone conclusion. Writer-director Jonathan Levine, who made a comedy-drama out of having cancer in 50/50, deserves credit for making all these moments connect with audiences. If Twilight were funnier, had a more proactive heroine and an uglier hero, it might be Warm Bodies.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Major Releases

Ouija
Film Review: Ouija

Skip the movie, play the game. On second thought, skip the game, too. More »

The Best of Me
Film Review: The Best of Me

Fans of Lifetime TV movies–and previous adaptations of books by Nicholas Sparks–will derive sentimental satisfaction from this handsomely mounted, ultimately hokey romance. For anyone else, it’s an all-too-typical adaptation of a book by Nicholas Sparks. More »

The Book of Life
Film Review: The Book of Life

This animated feature is tricky to get into, but soon enough becomes a colorful piñata spreading goodies hither and yon. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Birdman
Film Review: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Virtuosic camerawork and a stellar ensemble of actors more than make up for the occasional moment of portentous twaddle in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's latest—and maybe his best—film. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here