By KATE DOCTOR
My initial thoughts about “Warm Bodies” were more skeptical than excited. The only zombie movies I’d ever seen in my life (as far as I can remember anyway) were “The Night of the Living Dead” and “Zombieland,” so I didn’t have much to go on in terms of critiquing how accurate the zombies are according to pop culture. Putting that point aside, however, my overall impression was that the movie, based on the zombie romance novel of the same name by Isaac Marion, was fantastic. My skepticism was blown away by the unique depiction of these corpses and the post apocalyptic that they inhabit with their living counterparts.
My favorite aspect of the movie was the inner monologue of the main character, R (Nicholas Hoult), which is heard throughout the movie, expressing his strong desire to be human again. At the beginning of the movie, he is describing his everyday life as the walking dead, lamenting how conflicted he feels about eating human flesh. Then he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer) and ends up saving her from the rest of his fellow flesh-eaters. Falling for her almost instantly, he realizes that he feels human again when she is around. It seems all sugary sweet on paper, but in the hands of “50/50” director Jonathan Levine, the film handles the story in a way that is equally comedic and serious.
R is seeking out the humanity that he has lost due to becoming a zombie, hoarding things that make him feel “alive” and human. This is akin, to me at least, to the kind of things that many people seek out in this world to feel alive and happy: the many material possessions of our generation. However, as depicted in the movie, the feeling of humanity doesn’t come from these random physical objects, but rather from the interactions one has with other people. In R’s case, he begins to feel alive again when he falls in love with Julie. If R hadn’t met Julie, it is not hard to imagine him remaining in his walking, corpse-like existence as a member of the bloodthirsty (though highly conflicted) dead.
One downside to the film is that the interaction between Julie and her father (John Malkovich), who is an important figurehead in the small human colony Julie lives in, felt a bit rushed. I was aware that their relationship isn’t the best in the world, but I felt as though this could have been emphasized a bit more since Julie’s father played such an important role in the movie. If the relationship had been emphasized and delved into a bit more, there would have been a much more emotional impact. Don’t get me wrong, the film is quite affecting. However, by rushing through the father-daughter relationship, the film is unable to reach its full emotional potential. In retrospect, the movie is more about R and Julie, but I feel that the additional insight into the relationship between Julie and her father would only benefit the film’s narrative.
Overall, I recommend this movie for fans of romantic comedies and zombie films alike. It has a bit of action, a bit of romance and a lot of zombies.