Zombies are currently the overblown poster creature of pop culture. From TV, to comics, to video games, and cinema. Zombies, are literally, everywhere. With that mass amount of dead-horse-beating over exposure on so many mediums, the notion of being fresh and original is sadly neglected. George A. Romero essentially created the creatures, and defined their characteristics throughout his filmography. Dan O’Bannon showed us a humorous side of zombies, and fleshed out the motives behind their insatiable appetite. And Danny Boyle somewhat reinvented the undead, making them into rage-filled athletes that prefer to charge full speed instead of a slow shuffle. Those looking for another change in the mythology with WARM BODIES should appreciate the novel nature, but it’s formulaic structure hinders the bit of creativity it had going for it.
WARM BODIES centers around R (Nicholas Hoult), a member of the zombie horde that has taken over America due to an unknown epidemic. R may seem like an ordinary walker on the outside, with his pale skin, rotting features, and craving (albeit reluctant) for brains. However, on the inside R is just as conflicted as us. Through a pretty humorous voice over, R is constantly expressing his thoughts about the life of the undead. His routine, conversations with friends (which consists of grunts and moans), and simply how lonely he is. All of that changes during a run-in with a group of survivors, once of which includes a gorgeous girl named Julie (Theresa Palmer), causing R to feel something he hasn’t felt in years; life.
Since the overall concept of the film is something I haven’t seen before, I had welcomed WARM BODIES with open arms on this principle alone. I mean, there is only so much you can do with dead humans coming back to life to rip alive humans apart. A fresh spin on a tired subject is always appreciated, and for the most part, WARM BODIES does an admirable job. The first two halves of the film are actually pretty great. Scenes with R guiding us through his mundane life are the highlights, and provide some, if not all of the best laughs. R and Julie’s chemistry revolves around a hipster-esque love of vinyl records, but the tunes are good so that’s a-ok in my book. Also, a Blu-ray copy of Fulci’s Zombie makes a brief cameo, and any mainstream exposure of that nasty classic is aces.
Adapted from the novel of the same name by All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Wackness director Jonathan Levine, the shining scenes of note come from a more independent cinematography style that squeeze their way through the more routine “”Hollywood” nature of the finale. The more action oriented third half just loses it’s footing, and feels completely out of place with everything before. It’s clunky and rushed, with some terrible CGI not doing it any favors. Also, John Malkovich shows up to play a cliché leader/father that could have been played by anyone. This is PG-13 as well folks, so don’t go in expecting to see some gory gut munching. Basically, WARM BODIES is just cute, and geared for teenagers looking for an alternative to Twilight, or zombies in general. In that regard, it’s par for the course.