Review: Warm Bodies / Cert: 12A / Director: Jonathan Levine / Screenplay: Jonathan Levine/ Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry / Release Date: Out Now
Fears that Jonathan Levine’s film version of Isaac Marion’s quirky romantic horror novel Warm Bodies might turn into some insipid zombie Twilight knock-off are mercifully unfounded. Levene’s movie is an amusing, affectionate and largely non-threatening love story set against the unlikely backdrop of a zombie apocalypse. On the downside, it also comes across as a bit underpowered and anaemic, its jokes never quite funny enough and its ultimate message of redemption and salvation and everyone just getting along a little too sickly for many palettes. But look at that 12A certificate; what did you expect, The Walking Dead?
R (Hoult) – he’s forgotten his real name and anything about his former life – is a zombie shuffling aimlessly around a devastated airport terminal along with hundreds of other undead. An attack by human survivors leads to R meeting up with the terrified Julie (Palmer) after he’s eaten her boyfriend’s brains and ingested his memories. Despite being dead, R is smitten and he takes it upon himself to keep Julie safe, smuggling her aboard an abandoned aircraft he’s turned into a makeshift home and protecting her from his fellow zombies and the degenerate, skeletal 'bonies’ which the undead eventually devolve into. Slowly R begins to reconnect with his lost humanity and Julie discovers that being dead doesn’t necessarily mean an end to being human.
Hoult’s a triumph as zombie R; his dialogue is full of grunts and half-formed words and he masters the zombie shuffle with aplomb. But his relationship with Julie – she’s a forgiving kind of girl considering R devoured her loving boyfriend’s brain – tends to drag the film down and the resulting gags (including a rather obvious Romeo and Juliet balcony parody) are rarely as sharp as they need to be. John Malkovich is underused as Julie’s trigger-happy Dad and the ‘bonies’, better-animated CGI zombies reminiscent of the ‘vampires’ from I Am Legend, are a decent threat exterminated all too easily.
Warm Bodies deserves some kudos for managing to pull off the difficult ‘feelgood horror movie’ trick but in the end there’s a certain irony in the fact that a film whose main protagonist has severe communication difficulties struggles to realise the potential so clearly present in its clever and original storyline.
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10