Zombies! Nothing is a more surefire sign of the apocalypse than reanimated corpses, with the possible exception mushroom clouds and Mad Max style spiky armor. There are a few rules to follow when you find yourself up against the walking dead: aim for the head, find a defensible position before night falls, and keep moving to avoid running out of supplies. Warm Bodies, written and directed by Johnathon Levine, wants us to add another rule to this plan: Hug them. Talk with them. Include them in your life. Discover, together, what it truly means to love.
… I think I’ll stick with the shotgun and the sure fire plan of running away screaming like a little girl, but whatever floats your boat.
It’s kinda hard to come up with a end-of-the-world zombie scenario that’s unique, so Warm bodies cleverly decides to not try. As is usually the case, humanity manages to survive the outbreak of brain eaters by building a massive wall that cuts the entire city off from the rest of the world, and the dead inhabit pretty much the rest of the enchilada. It may not come as a shock to learn that these zombies are slow, shuffling, groaning sacks of meat, but there’s also a nastier variant, comprised of the ones who have already peeled all of their skin off for some reason. These zombies are fast, and love to rip off the faces of the living, because they are dicks.
Anyway, the important zombie here is R, played by Nicholas Hoult, who whiles away the time by wandering the halls of an airport and grunting at his fellow zombies. R doesn’t remember much of his life pre-death, and is simply waiting for the day when he, too, will peel off his face and become a hideous murder machine like the others. This all changes when, during a lunch outing with some friends, R manages to eat the brains of a nice young man, who just happens to be dating a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer).
Eating brains gives zombies the delicious memories contained therein, so as it happens R falls in love with Julie immediately. When it comes time to munch on her as well, he instead smears some black zombie juice and takes her back to his home at the airport. I don’t really know what the black zombie gunk is supposed to be… maybe liquified organs? That junk appears in a lot of zombie films, but I don’t know if it’s ever really explained. It’s just one of those things that zombies seem to spout, like disgusting water fountains. …Maybe I should stop thinking about this.
Where was I? Oh right! R, hiding Julie in the airport. Therein lie the shenanigans! Julie slowly warms up to R once she realizes he’s not going to eat her. This interaction somehow, inexplicably, starts to reverse R’s zombification, which has some pretty major implications for the post-apocalyptic world.
Yeah, so… my major beef with this film is that the science makes no sense. These are dead bodies we are talking about here. No amount of TLC is going to bring someone back after they have shuffled off the mortal coil. You can’t snuggle with a dead grandma and expect cookies by Friday.
I understand the point of the film isn’t really to make sense. Warm Bodies is actually a pretty ham-handed piece of social commentary, kind of like how the zombies in Dawn of the Dead were content to wander their shopping mall all day, and freaked out when they were no longer allowed in (Oh my god, the zombies are US.) In the case of Warm Bodies, the message is: Hug your lifeless, zombie neighbor, because he may actually be a person, dammit. Or dead.
Still, it was a pretty fun movie to watch. Hoult’s zombie musings are pretty entertaining, and the plot was engaging, even if it had more holes than a rotting corpse. I feel like I would have been able to enjoy this film a bit more if I could stop over analyzing it so much, but as you may have figured out by now, that’s kind of a problem for me.
Still, Warm Bodies managed to keep my attention without using a liberal amount of explosions, so I guess we should give credit where credit is due. If you’re in the mood for a good old zombiepocalypse beat down film, Warm Bodies is… not that. It’s something. But not that.
If the apocalypse does come down to hugs or guns, though… I’ll probably stick with shootin’ things.
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