Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review: Warm Bodies (2013)

Warm Bodies (2013) co-written and directed by Jonathan Levine

Warm Bodies is, on the surface, a transplant of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet into a zombie apocalypse. Two young people seem completely incompatible when they meet because they are from wildly different groups: he's a zombie, she's a human. She is with a group of young people scavenging supplies outside of the humans' walled-off city that is attacked by a group of zombies scavenging for brains. He's with the zombie group but is immediately taken by the sight of her (but after he eats her boyfriend). He helps her escape back to his home at an airport, where a lot of zombies shuffle around like the humans did years before. She lays low there and starts to appreciate him.

His saving her is certainly odd for a zombie movie but the zombie mythology here is a bit different from the standard. The movie starts at the airport with him going through his daily routine of aimless wandering. While he does this, he provides a highly-articulate voice-over narration of his life and his memories, such as they are. He can't remember his name but thinks it began with an "r" so he goes through the movie as R. He can grunt and occasionally speak a word or two. He goes out with some fellow zombies on the above mentioned raid. Instead of his heart skipping a beat when he sees Julie, his heart has a beat. His physical heart grows stronger the longer he stays with her and he begins to speak more words, even sentences. Could this be the zombie cure?

The other big difference from standard zombie lore is the two classes of zombies. First are the high-functioning, still human-looking zombies like R, who do have an internal mental process (the voice-over shows it in R's case and zombies like him have similar behavior). Second are the bonies, zombies who are blackened husks of their former human selves. They are vicious and unreasoning and eat anything that has a heartbeat. They are too far gone to be cured and turn on the first set of zombies when they show signs of a cure, i.e. heartbeats. The bonies are generic bad guys who are scary enough for a PG-13 movie.

If you know Romeo and Juliet or one of its many imitators, the plot has no surprises. The departures from zombie lore are more surprising and interesting than the romantic plot. The performances are okay. John Malkovich plays Julie's father and he seems to be phoning it in for most of the movie. The two main characters are charming enough to keep the story going but are not outstanding. It was a mildly enjoyable film.

Parental advisory: some language; very brief scenes of zombies eating people; shooting of both kinds of zombies but not with much blood or gore; some peeling/wounded zombies; a quick shot of Julie in her underwear from behind; some kissing.

No comments:

Post a Comment