a critiQal film review Warm Bodies (2013)

Plot: When a highly unusual zombie (Hoult) rescues a girl (Palmer) from imminent death at the hands of his co-horts, their unlikely romance sets in motion a chain of events that will transform him, his fellow undead and maybe even the whole lifeless world.

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Zombies. They usually get a bad rap, what with the cannibalistic thing and all. But, recent film Shaun of the Dead (2004) showcased something new – zombies in a horror comedy! Now, new film Warm Bodies looks to take the zombie in a whole new direction – romantic comedy-horror!

After seeing the previews for this new film – and laughing uproariously at some of the sequences in the trailer – I knew I wanted to see if Warm Bodies would turn out as good as I hoped it would. Since romantic comedies aren’t usually my thing, though, I decided to wait for the home video version to see how this new take on zombies would turn out.

Having just picked up the film from my nearby redbox®, I settled down to see if Warm Bodies would take the zombie in a positive new direction, or if this new vision would be nothing but a letdown.

Nicholas Hoult stars as ‘R’, a conflicted zombie. With the movie centering around his character, big things were expected from young Mr. Hoult – and he succeeded brilliantly. While he would go on to lead the film in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), his biggest role before this was as ‘Beast’ in X-Men: First Class (2011), so to see him open up and capture the viewer’s attention – without even seeming to try – makes his performance that much more impressive. Sure, it’s not without it’s faults, but he still manages to turn a zombie into an engaging character…and that’s impressive all by itself.

Teresa Palmer plays ‘Julie’, the girl who captures R’s cold, dead heart. While she isn’t as impressive as Hoult, she doesn’t have to be. After all, she’s more the catalyst for R than the main focus of the film.

Rob Corddry also shows he has what it takes to be an actor as R’s dead friend, and John Malkovich lends his name (and very little screen time) to Warm Bodies, giving this quirky film a big name to entice viewers in with.

Honestly, it has enough going for it even without the big name. Obviously a quirky update on the “Romeo & Juliet” story (even the main characters are ‘R’ and ‘Julie’ – how much more obvious do you need to be? By the time the famous balcony scene makes it’s appearance, everyone should recognize the similarities). With that as an underlying theme, Warm Bodies manages to draw viewers in right from the start as they are treated to something most zombie flicks ignore completely – the thoughts of a plodding zombie.

Tossing in a goodly amount of comedy in the zombie’s musings, Warm Bodies captures the viewer’s attention right from the start, as the comedic-yet-honest rambling thoughts help both endear the character of ‘R’ to the viewers as well as providing all sorts of laughs along the way. And, while the story continues, and the seriousness around the characters intensifies, the characters still find time to lighten the mood, even if it’s only with the tried-and-true voice-over technique.

Still, thanks to the smart writing, even the voice-over feels a bit new again. A smartly-written, often hilarious, journey of the heart, Warm Bodies should gain fans (and soon imitators) quickly. The most amazing thing though, is it can be all of those things – and still never forget it’s a zombie movie either.

Occasionally, a film comes along that takes the zombie genre and adds a whole new element to it. Even rarer are those films that manage to both add a new element to the zombie genre…and be good to boot. Shaun of the Dead (2004) managed to do it, by integrating comedy into the zombie movie. And now, Warm Bodies has managed to do it too, by taking that comedic aspect and adding in a romantic story along the way.

Definitely worth checking out, Warm Bodies should warm even the coldest of hearts.

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