Let me preface this by saying that apocalypses, zombies and love stories are three things I don’t do.
Warm Bodies (Jonathan Levine, 50/50), is a post-apocalyptic zombie love story. But for reasons I could not quite identify, I was majorly anticipating this movie, and although major anticipations do tend to lead to bitter disappointments, I was not disappointed.
The movie is essentially set in a desolate apocalyptic hell-scape, in a world where humans and zombies (“corpses”) are at war with each other and with something even less human: “bonies.” It’s a brutal world. Bonies and corpses will eat “anything with a heartbeat,”… and they do.
From the beginning of the movie, R (Thomas Hoult, Clash of the Titans, X-Men: First Class), a corpse who has forgotten his name and only remembers that it begins with an R, narrates with a stream-of-consciousness, wry humor that reminds you to not take the apocalyptic hell-scape too seriously.
It’s clear that R isn’t a normal corpse. His narration is so human, that it makes his brain-ivore diet and bleak lifestyle sort of endearing. By the time he encounters Julie (Theresa Palmer, I am Number Four) the audience is hoping that they can get past the fact that she is his food source and they can at least be friends. The premise resembles Twilight, but better in every way.
At first glance, the message of Warm Bodies is the trite notion that love is the answer, but it’s so much more than that. You have to realize that Zombie movies are more often than not a reflection of humanity and the human condition. It may have been sappy and more sci-fi than I can usually handle, but it nailed “human” right on the head, because of its constant contrasts: feeling vs. unfeeling, human vs. un-human, alive vs. dead.
Warm Bodies is Romeo and Juliet meets I am Legend meets Freaks and Geeks. Add John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovich) as the unreasonable father and Rob Corddry (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Hot Tub Time Machine) as R’s “best friend,” M, and this movie is everything that is great about being weird and ridiculous. Warm Bodies, in spite of its tried and true concept, proves original.