Editor’s Notes: Warm Bodies is out on it’s new home video format October 3rd.
Young R (Nicholas Hoult) has eyes for Julie (Teresa Palmer). But Julie is preoccupied with fighting zombies in a post-apocalyptic world. The catch: R is a zombie. Can this budding romance happen?
Warm Bodies (Lionsgate) is a clever variation on the endless stream of zombie films that have proliferated recently on screens big and small. There have been horror spoofs a-plenty, but this one may be the first zombie fairy tale.
Like his fellow zombies, R must feed on the brains of the living to survive. By ingesting brains, a zombie also experiences the memories of his victim. R has just chowed down on Perry (Dave Franco), Julie’s boyfriend, and begins to see memories of the couple’s life together. R is smitten with Julie, but what’s a boy — especially a dead one — to do when the human beings, led by Julie’s father, Grigio (John Malkovich), are intent on blowing his brains out? And can Julie possibly fall for a dead predator?
One of the biggest problems R faces is protecting Julie from the zombie hordes. He does this by smearing blood on her to mask her human smell so she can walk freely among them.
Director Jonathan Levine has fashioned a witty reimagining of the zombie flick — a Twilight of sorts for people who love a good romantic tale, however odd.
Mr. Hoult (X-Men: First Class, Clash of the Titans) is appealing as the lovesick R. Because a zombie has no memory of its own and can hardly speak, the only thing he can utter when Julie asks his name is “Arrrr,” hence “R.” Hoult does his zombie shuffle convincingly and is just pale enough with some skin discolorations and scars to make him creepy but not altogether repugnant. In one scene, R amusingly mimics the natural, loose walk of a human. We can see why Julie eventually warms to his cold body.
There are borrowings or influences from many sources, starting with Romeo and Juliet (and a balcony scene) and extending through every dystopian movie ever made. R’s on-screen narration gets us painlessly through information we don’t really care about, such as how the world came to such a state, and relates the inner feelings of R as he falls under the spell of Julie.
There are inconsistencies that will bother zombie purists. Depicted as slow-moving creatures, the zombies in Warm Bodies occasionally move very quickly. And Julie seems awfully forgiving, given that R has just ripped open her boyfriend’s skull and feasted on his brains.
Despite the movie’s brief running time, there are moments when the pace bogs down. For the most part, however, director Levine moves us briskly through R’s journey.
Rated PG-13, Warm Bodies is a sweet picture despite its gruesome trappings. It’s tough to make an essentially mute character register with a personality of its own, but Hoult and Levine accomplish this both touchingly and amusingly.
Bonus materials on the 2-disc 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition include 9 featurettes; audio commentary with screenwriter/director Jonathan Levine and actors Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer; deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by director Jonathan Levine; gag reel; and theatrical trailer.