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Review: Warm Bodies (2013)

Directed by: | 98 minutes | , , horror | Actors: , , , Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, , , , , Bille Calmeau, , , , , Robert Reynolds

We have seen love between humans and other creatures (vampires, werewolves, aliens) before. With “Warm Bodies”, a new creature can be added to the list: the zombie. How can a zombie be credibly attractive to a human? Simple: by taking the guise of British hunk Nicholas Hoult! However, it is not fair to compare “Warm Bodies” with the obvious “Twilight” series, because the movie is too much fun for that.

In “Warm Bodies” we see a world populated by zombies. A small group of people has hidden themselves in part of a large city behind a meter-high concrete wall. We are introduced to R, a zombie who has forgotten his name, can hardly speak, but shares his thoughts with the viewer. Together with a bunch of other zombies, R lives in an abandoned airport where he has a place for himself on an airplane. When the zombies hunt for people, they encounter a group of young people trying to steal medicines from a clinic. R falls in love with the beautiful Julie (Teresa Palmer) when he eats her boyfriend’s brain. To protect her from the other zombies, he kidnaps her to his plane. Julie is very suspicious but discovers that R is a very special zombie and really cares about her. Thanks to Julie, R finds out that he can feel again and slowly becomes more human. However, their love is opposed in every way.

“Warm Bodies” is based on Isaac Marion’s book and is actually an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. R is Romeo, Julie is Juliet, R’s friend M is Mercutio and so on. There is talk of impossible love and there is even a balcony scene. Apart from the Shakespearean theme, the thrives in humor and romance. The chemistry between Hoult and Palmer crackles from the screen and the witty humor is fully present from the first scene. R cannot speak, but thanks to a voice-over he tells us how the world works. He soon introduces his best friend M and shows that M is the only one he can talk to. Well talking, they put out some incoherent grunts and that must represent a conversation. Sounds lame but it makes for a comical scene. And so there is a big nod to the zombie genre throughout the film. Fortunately, there is also horror. The clip where R eats Julie’s boyfriend’s brain and the skeletal zombies whose shape and speed resemble the robots from “I, Robot” are genuinely eerie. Music also plays an important role in “Warm Bodies” and is a good mix of old and new songs. For example, R listens to old songs on an old-fashioned record player because then the music feels more lively according to him. A feeling that also catches the viewer, because the entire soundtrack (including modern songs from bands like M83) is well chosen for the film.

“Warm Bodies” is a comedy with zombies that has found the perfect balance between humor and romance. There is plenty to swoon and laugh. The zombie genre is being mocked with respect without being sour for a single moment. The film feels both modern and classic thanks to the refreshing script and the high Romeo & Juliet content. Recommended!

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