It’s that time of the year when Hollywood brings out their clichéd romantic comedies to draw couples into the theater during Valentine’s Day season. This review is to assure you that Warm Bodies is not a typical rom-com; Warm Bodies is in fact, awesome.
Based on the popular novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies rolls a range of genres including horror, comedy, romance and drama all into one. After an outbreak turns most of the world into brain-eating zombies (is there another kind?), teen zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) spends his days grunting, stumbling, looking for his next meal and hanging out with his best friend M (Rob Corddry), who can’t remember his first name either.
One day while searching for his next human feast, R sees Julie (Teresa Palmer), a young member of a militia her widowed father (John Malkovich) has put together to ward off the corpses from the living. Seeing Julie struck something in R, and it’s love at first sight as he watches her shoot up the pack of his corpse friends. The militia-zombie battle doesn’t end well for Julie’s boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and when she runs out of ammo, R decides to save her from the rest of the corpse clan by smearing some bloody goo on her face to disguise her human form.
R brings the frightened Julie back to his home, an abandoned airplane filled with trinkets and records that he has collected during the course of his zombie life. R takes care of Julie the best he can and his grunting begins to turn into full vocabulary as Julie asks him questions about his zombie life. R takes a turn for the better as we see him develop a deeper connection to Julie, gradually finding his human heart again.
Warm Bodies puts a unique twist on the Romeo & Juliet story because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the main characters are fascinating to watch. The voice-over provided by R throughout the film is extremely effective, especially since zombies aren’t a talkative lot. It allows the audience to connect with the character, understand him and grounds the overall film.
Hoult (X-Men: First Class and the upcoming Jack the Giant Slayer) does excellent work here as the love-struck teen zombie. He made the decision not to blink in any of the scenes and hunch his back throughout the film. Unless you’d seen him when he was 12 years old in 2002’s About a Boy, you’d never guess the young actor is British; his American accent is clean and crisp.
The soundtrack is colorful and adds immense detail to the movie. Songs which include Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” and John Waite’s “Missing You” are carefully selected to provide both truth and humor as needed.
Warm Bodies puts a zombie twist on a classic love story and, above all, emphasizes the importance of human connection. The performances by Hoult and Palmer are excellent, and the screenplay is top-notch, proving that Warm Bodies is the first great film of the year.