Any moviegoer who struggles to choose between a zombie horror film and a paranormal romance will find a happy medium in “Warm Bodies,” based on Isaac Marion’s novel. And never fear; although Summit Entertainment produced the movie, it’s not another “Twilight.”
Our undead and unlikely protagonist is a self-conscious zombie with a conscience. R (played by Nicholas Hoult) may eat human flesh, but he feels “conflicted about it.” He can’t remember his name, he’s gray, he slouches and to say he has a staring problem would be an understatement.
R is a man of few words but many thoughts. The audience is treated to knowing what passes through his mind — “Why do I have to be so weird?” — although missing are his mortal memories, including what exactly caused the world to plunge into its zombified state. He spends his days lurching through an airport, staring at and attempting conversation with his best friend M (Rob Corddry), and going on hunting trips in the city.
Everything begins to change when R, out to feed, comes into contact with a group of surprisingly hygienic and well-dressed young humans out salvaging supplies. It’s love at first sight when he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), and further cementing his attraction to her are the memories he obtains by consuming the brain of her boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco).
R smuggles Julie to his airplane home where, reminiscent of WALL-E, he stores relics of better days gone by. He recognizes that his awkward attempts to woo her are yielding poor results — “Oh no. Stop staring. You’re acting weird again!” — but her many escape efforts make him sure she can only be safe if they are together. At least, that’s what he tells her: “Keep safe.”
Their association — or could it be love? — begins to alter R in ways that could have big implications for the future of humanity, but only if they can succeed in proving it to Julie’s father, Gen. Grigio (John Malkovich), who is responsible for the protection of the surviving humans. Time is short, though, as the Boneys — sinewy post-zombie skeletons that would’ve greatly benefited from a more generous visual effects budget — seek to destroy any shred of hope.
The concept was expertly executed, with its clever screenplay and directing by Jonathan Levine giving the story a strong pulse. Hoult easily steps into the role of R without any unintended lurches, though Palmer’s Julie — think upset Bella Swan but somehow smiling more and stammering less — was not all that she could have been. Analeigh Tipton made more of an impression with less screen time as Julie’s spunky friend Nora.
Like its leading man, “Warm Bodies” is more sweet than suave, yet may be an unconventional date night film approaching Valentine’s Day.
“Warm Bodies” has a running time of 97 minutes and, though it contains far less objectionable content than the book, thoroughly deserves its PG-13 rating for zombie violence and some language, including one F-word.
Rachel Brutsch is a former intern of the features section of the Deseret News. She has a bachelor's degree in communication from BYU-Idaho. She loves stories in all formats. Email: [email protected]