Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich
You may like this if you liked: Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008), Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990), Romeo +Juliet (Baz Luhrmann, 1996)
After the usual apocalypse we see in films, a vast majority of the world’s population are now zombies. What is left of the human race lives in a part of the city (no idea what city) surrounded by a huge wall and lead by Commander Grigio (Malkovich). However, R (Hoult) is not your typical zombie, not only is he capable of eloquently narrating this film, he still processes some of the very basic human feelings. When he and a horde of fellow zombies go on a hunt for humans R feels an urge to protect one of the human’s, Julie (Palmer). This is mainly due to the fact he has just eaten her boyfriend’s brain and by doing that R gets his memories (don’t ask). R looks after Julie and as he does his heart starts to beat again and he begins to slowly regain his humanity. What then develops is the usual Romeo & Juliet relationship we would all expect. After witnessing their relationship, other zombies begin to go through the same change. However, a war is about to rage between the humans and the ‘bonies’ (zombies that have transformed further and are beyond any help) and R and Julie must persuade John Malkovich not to also kill these zombies who are becoming human again.
Despite sounding like a zombie Twilight, Warm Bodies is much better than that but has a consistent feel of mediocrity to it. In what is another genre mash up, this is a film of unrealised potential due to a case of better concept than execution. Self awareness and complacency is once again the problem here, the film almost feels too pleased with itself and tries nowhere near as hard as it should. This is perfectly enjoyable and watchable, but has very little substance to merit repeat viewings in my opinion.
Nicholas Hoult continues to impress me and produces a very likeable and sympathetic half dead protagonist. Teresa Palmer also avoids the usual clichés with her character and Julie is also a very likeable character. However the romance between R and Julie does feel a little too contrived to really tug at the heartstrings at certain points when it should. Malkovich and Rob Corddry (as R’s zombie mate) are very effective but sadly underused. The plot is a little predictable and there is also a lack of genuine laughs. There are some mildly amusing moments due to its light tone. However there is no more that, so do not be fooled by the cynical ‘laugh out loud comedy’ marketing.
I know this may be more down to genre, but all the plot developments in the final third are extremely predictable and maybe a little too neat and tidy. This takes away any potential genuine intensity and edge that the final third could have provided.
However, despite this there is still enough action and fun to be had throughout and the film never gets boring. The good concept and effective acting are perhaps what save the mediocre dialogue and contrived plot, but Warm Bodies is a good romp. Also at less than 100 minutes, Warm Bodies make sure never to outstay its welcome. If you are looking for something under two hours that is good fun but requires very little effort, then you could do far worse than Warm Bodies.
Warm Bodies is a little underwhelming and perhaps a little too complacent, however consistently watchable and entertaining. It is fun and enjoyable, with enough heart and a consistently tongue in cheek tone to never get boring, but sadly a case of potential wasted.