Review: “Warm Bodies”
February 11, 2013
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4/5 stars from Rotten Tomatoes.
Although it’s not very typical to see a zombie flick for Valentine’s Day, Warm Bodies proves to be uniquely sweet, and packs the comedic bite that is infrequently seen in the typical zombie genre. Fondly dubbed a “zomromcom” by its fans, the novel-turned-movie at first seems like a zombie-fied version of Twilight; however, the story is refreshing, full of warmth, and surprisingly has the viewer rooting for the undead rather than reaching for their zombie survival kit.
The flick takes place in a post-apocalypse city somewhere around Montreal. Here, Nicholas Holt (playing a member of the shuffling zombie horde) wanders through an abandoned airport having “almost-conversations” with his zombie friend and craving human flesh. Although the zombies are still moaning husks, Holt’s self-effacing voice-over depicting his character’s thoughts tells him that there is more out there then his daily dull, hungry grind.
Enter Julie (played by Teresa Palmer), a survivor whose recon group gets ambushed by Holt’s character and a pack of the walking dead. While killing and devouring her boyfriend, he absorbs the corpse’s memories of being in love with Julie. Much to her confusion, he decides to rescue her rather than eat her, and as they grow close, he slowly starts to change. With his heart now beating in his chest, Holt’s character (named “R” by Julie) has to relearn what it means to be human.
From there, the film expands into a hopeful message that even the undead can come back to life through the power of love. While one wouldn’t normally associate zombies with such tender feeling, Warm Bodies makes it work. Holt’s characterization of R was impressive in and of itself–besides his charming and dryly humorous commentary, his physical representation of a zombie coming back to its humanity was carefully constructed and highly believable. At the film’s start, Holt plays your average meandering reanimated corpse. However, as the film goes on, he slowly increases his motor skills and his range of emotions. Holt genuinely conveys a quirky, progressively warmer character who yearns to be something more, making R extremely likeable for a member of the undead.
Overall, Warm Bodies succeeds in what it set out to do as a horror-action-romantic-comedy and fulfills its multi-genre criteria in an artful and unique way. As the cliché goes, “love conquers all,” apparently even during the zombie apocalypse.