Warm Bodies (2013)

  • Time: 97 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Horror | Romance
  • Director: Jonathan Levine
  • Cast: Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, John Malkovich, Nicholas Hoult


With much of the world’s population now an undead horde, R is a young and oddly introspective zombie. While fighting with and feeding on a human scavenger party, R meets Julie and feels an urge to protect her. What happens next is the beginning of a strangely warm relationship that allows R to begin regaining his humanity. As this change spreads through the local undead population like a virus, Julie and R eventually have to face a larger issue when the very nature of their friendship is challenged. Caught between the paranoid human forces and the ferocious “Bonies”, zombies who are a mutual threat, R and Julie must find a way to bridge the differences of each side to fight for a better world no one thought possible.

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  • When it comes to zombies, everybody pretty much shares the same opinion. If you were to come in contact with one, either run as fast as possible or shoot it in the head. Although this situation has never occurred, it’s at least some kind of solution to an extremely difficult problem. The zombie itself has changed numerous times over the past several years. Initially with its introduction in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living (1968), the zombie has been portrayed as a mindless eating machine. An empty vessel looking only to gorge itself in its crave for human flesh and to do nothing else. Or at least, this is what we uninfected humans believe. What if under all the decaying exterior and faded color was a functioning brain that was aware of its current condition but could not control the system that carried it? What if there was an actual cure for the plaque that made everyone so lifeless? Well that’s what Isaac Marion’s novel explored in the book of the same name Warm Bodies. This adaptation of it is well done too.

    Written and directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50 (2011)), the story follows a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) who is indifferent on his current state. He only eats when threatened but on the off chance of finding him, he’d rather try to communicate. As far as R knows, he’s the only one who started out with this thought process. One day when hunger gets the better of him, he manages to come in contact with a female human named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and brings her back to his home (which is an abandoned airplane). As they stay with each other, they begin to bond. Meanwhile on the sides, both protagonists’ parties don’t catch on. Marcus (Rob Corddry) one of R’s zombie pals almost mistakes Julie for food, while Julie’s father Grigio (John Malkovich) looks to annihilate all zombies in his way. Considering the director who also acted as the writer handled this production, it’s impressive. There’s quite a bit of development that goes on among characters and that’s for both factions.

    To help the viewer understand R better, much of the reasoning and motivational decisions made by him are explained through voiceover by Hoult in order to know what he’s thinking. There’s also explanations given as to how R understands other people and as to why he eats aside from being threatened. However, the one aspect that Levine did not cover is how R became self-aware. How did it happen? When did it happen? Of all the zombies around him, nobody felt the same way he did anywhere else? It’s possible but highly unlikely. The only other issue this horror comedy has is its rating. In the past there have been horror films released by the MPAA with a PG-13 rating. Yet for this movie, the violence isn’t super gory but there are a number of bloody scenes. Even one of the characters drops an F bomb, so why not just go all the way? It’s obvious this could have been rated R too because all the “blood” that’s on screen has mainly been coated in a black ooze color. This is what keeps the MPAA from giving it the restricted label. Seriously though?

    Nonetheless, the acting is great in this picture. Nicholas Hoult as R has quite the charm going for him being undead and all. There are some real moments that show that there’s something ticking inside his head. Teresa Palmer although representing the female strong head trope in horror films, her character’s courage is noted and her chemistry with Hoult is amiable. Plus as both develop, the audience will see the struggles both need to accept. Rob Corddry as Marcus plays a funny counter to R in his mannerisms and actions. The same can be said for Analeigh Tipton who plays Julie’s friend Nora. Both actors act as the protagonists’ backup in a comical manner. John Malkovich as Julie’s father has a much smaller role to play and although he’s not around for long, his motivations are clearly defined and explain why he acts the way he does. There’s even an appearance by Dave Franco playing Julie’s ex; he probably has the least amount of development among the rest of his cast members. The antagonists are called bonies, walking skeleton zombies.

    For the bonies, they have no conscience whatsoever. Special effects wise, they seem to be the weakest aspect because of just how rigid they move. They have a look that resembles very close to Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (1999) CGI. However, the cinematography Javier Aguirresarobe was handled well. Even for the chase scenes, the camera felt very steady. All scenes captured the right amount of landscape, whether being in R’s airport or in the humans’ bunker. Aguirresarobe also filmed for the Fright Night (2011) remake, Goosebumps (2015) and The Finest Hours (2016). For music, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders (a Beltrami collaborator) composed the score. Surprisingly, this is the second score (the other being The Sessions (2012)) produced by Beltrami that rarely sounds like his previous horror scores. There are moments that involve blaring horns, but much of the score is comprised of bells, harps and piano that represent themes for R and Julie. They are simply one the most beautiful themes ever composed by him and it is by far one of his most recognizable and its quite pleasing.

    Writer/director Levine forgets a few areas in the script to elaborate on when it comes to logic, but a lot of the time, it will wholesomely immerse the audience into the mind of R. It also could’ve been rated R, but aside from that, the comedy between the leads work, the camerawork is good and the music is the heart tugging centerpiece.

    Points Earned –> 7:10

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