¨You miss him…like a boyfriend…you miss your boyfriend? ¨
Jonathan Levine surprised me a couple of years ago with 50/50 and now he tries his luck on a very different genre in Warm Bodies. With the success of The Walking Dead television series the zombie genre is probably as popular as ever, but Levine does something different by turning things around. Instead of having us run away from the incoming brain eating zombies, he puts us inside their heads as we get to see things through a zombie´s point of view. The main character´s name is R and he is a zombie. We get to experience everything he is thinking as he narrates the film. This is probably what makes this film so fun and entertaining because we get to see this misunderstood zombie grunt and walk around so slowly while his mind processes things so quickly. Zombieland had already broken the predictability of the zombie genre by making fun of the premise, but Warm Bodies takes a different turn in that it makes the zombie one of the protagonists. These zombie eating villains might have a heart after all and we get to experience it in this romantic comedy. Nicholas Hoult, who is also the star of Jack the Giant Slayer, plays the leading zombie in a very funny way using a lot of physical comedy. The fact that he is given some very clever lines also helps this film. The screenplay was adapted by Levine himself from Isaac Marion´s novel and it is very loosely based on the Rome and Juliet story (the balcony scene pays homage to that Shakespearean play). Teresa Palmer plays his human love interest with whom she shares great chemistry. She is very talented and the two make this film work thanks to some very funny moments and a touch of romance. Warm Bodies is really well paced and has a little bit of everything, combining comedy with romance and action. It is probably my favorite film of the year so far.
In a near future zombies are now in the top of the food chain, and humans have been reduced to live inside closed walls. R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie living inside an airport with a bunch of other zombies. He seems to be a little tired of his daily routines which involve walking slowly around the airport, spending some time sitting around with his best friend M (Rob Corddry) just grunting at each other, and eventually going out to find something to eat. They have to eat, although they do feel guilty about it. R claims that eating a human brain is what makes them feel alive again as they can access the memories of that person. It is as close to feeling alive as they can ever get. One day they encounter a group of humans who are out looking for pharmaceutics. Julie (Teresa Palmer) is one of the members of the expedition along with her boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco), and friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton). R ends up eating Perry and gets access to his memories. He ends up falling in love with Julie and decides to protect her from other zombies by spreading some blood over her face and asking her to remain still. R takes her to an abandoned plane inside the airport which he uses as his personal room full of items he collects including some records. R is a different kind of zombie, but this new connection he feels for Julie has made him feel more alive than ever. Not only R begins to feel alive again, but some of the other zombies seem to slowly be recovering their humanity. The problem is that Julie´s father, Grigio (John Malkovich), is the general behind the closed walls that is determined to exterminate all the zombies and they are running out of time.
The film is perfectly well paced with some memorably funny and clever moments. The film is funny, romantic, and lots of fun. Levine seems to know his craft and he uses this well known genre as a sort of parable to how through all the new technology we seem to be living as zombies and losing real human connections with each other. This film reminds us of the power of human connection, but that is just one point that Levine tries to get across without seeming to preachy. The film has some very funny performances and some great moments as well. This isn’t a perfect film, and I probably enjoyed Zombieland a little more, but it definitely is a new spin on the zombie genre and it really worked for me. I have to give this movie a lot of credit for being so original and taking us inside the rotten mind of a brain eating zombie. Levine once again takes a huge risk here, but it really pays off nicely. One would never expect to be rooting for a lead character like this but you can´t help but sympathize for this guy. I had a great time with Warm Bodies!