I’ve never read the novel WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion and I hadn’t seen the trailers for this film adaptation before catching it either. Hollywood spoils way too much via their freaking trailers these days, so F that noise, I try to duck them as much as I can (no small feat running a movie website)! So all I went by on this one was the pics and posters that were gunned out, and I can’t say I was too impressed. Looked too kitschy for my individual tastes. So yeah, I walked into my early screening of WARM BODIES backwards, dreading some lame ass and cheeky Twilight for Zombies type of spiel. Thankfully, I was dead wrong in my assumption and wound up digging it for the most part.
One aspect that I had underestimated about WARM BODIES was writer/director Jonathan Levine at the helm. The dude floored me with his debut ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE and although I haven’t tapped any of his films after that, it was nice to see that he hadn’t lost his Indie edge with this undead love story. WARM BODIES was visually clever and stimulating (loved the use of flashbacks/dream sequences and even the hip montages) with lots of style, a novel tone and an easy pace. It took about 10 minutes for this one to grab me by the nuts! The sly Zombie narration which gave me some insight as to this particular corpse's inner monologue made for quite a unique hook and it was all golden after that. The eventual love story that arose was touching and rang true and the chain of events, if not fairly predictable, went down smoother than a Victoria Secret model sitting on my face. Levine handled his actors like a champ too. Nicholas Hoult and Ozzie hottie Teresa Palmer were ideal together and churned out solid performances that totally won me over. Their chemistry was so "on" that they often came through when the narrative would trip on its own feet. But more on that later. The pair was well backed by a subdued John Malkovich, a spunky and scene stealing Analeigh Tipton and an affable Rob Corddry. Dave Franco was all right but his part was small and kind of boring.
Now that I think of it, although the movie sported a slew of familiar elements, the overall mix of tones and genres resulted in a pretty distinctive sit down and that’s rare these days. The flick came off as fresh and original. What about the horror you may ask? Well there wasn’t much of it (PG-13 yo! What did you expect?!). Sure there was random brain munching, some freaky CGI skeletons (they be angry) and maybe one or two semi tense moments, but at the end of the leg-break this was a love story first (one that echoed Romeo and Juliet in terms of set-up, character names and we even got the balcony scene), a Zombie jamboree second (with a couple of unique spins on the sub-genre), a comedy third and a horror movie dead last. Add to that a varied soundtrack that went from old school pop or/and rock to newer kind of stuff (like Midnight City by M83 ), some snappy dialogue and clever moments of self awareness that hit home, and you get a fun, romantic and witty flick.
On the rotten side of the corpse, the HOW (in terms of our lead Zombie’s evolution and what it entailed) was a pinch slap-dash. It didn’t hurt the film as I was watching it, but when I looked back, all I kept thinking was “How did this happen again?” On top of that the nugget of explanation that was tossed my way was pretty damn corny. Yup I groaned a couple of times watching this one. Lastly, I felt the conflicts were resolved too easily via the last act and although it randomly shined with wit, taking into account the premise and the possibilities, the whole didn't go far enough. The opportunities for metaphors as to today's society were countless! The movie didn't run with them. With that stabbed, the chemistry of our love birds often acted as Band-Aid for the film’s shortcomings. Every time it would lose me, the lovers would reel me back in. Do with that what you will.
So you gonna warm up to this dead body or what?