It's the forbidden tale of undead love. Sure, when two beautiful white kids engage in necrophilia everyone goes "Oooh" and "Awww." But the moment I get caught in the cemetery with a shovel, everyone flips out! Jeez, double standards much?
Warm Bodies had the unfortunate stigma of looking like a poor man's Twilight clone. It doesn't help that the lead actors strike a weird resemblance to Edward and Bella. However, does this film follow in the footsteps of a terrible series or does it strike out on it's own and break new ground?
R (Nicholas Hoult) is not your average zombie. Sure he eats and terrifies the living, but there's a lot more than that going on in his head. He's aware that he used to be more than human and he knows that life used to have some sort of meaning, but after being undead for so long he's forgotten what it was. Then R meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), who sets off a spark within him that'll change the world of zombies forever.
Let's go ahead and get this out of the way. I've actually seen Twilight and this movie is not that. No, far from it. However, it isn't your traditional zombie movie either. Yes, some brains get eaten and there's a bit of violence, but it's no Walking Dead. You're not going to see horrific gore or limbs flying through the air. It straddles the line of horror and comedy, but mostly falls on the side of humor. In fact, the scariest aspect of Warm Bodies isn't the zombies, but a new breed of monsters known as "The Boneys." These are zombies who have completely given up and devolved into skeleton creatures. They're so nasty, even the other zombies try to avoid them.
Every good zombie movie uses zombies as a metaphor for something else. For example, in Dawn of the Dead you can use zombies as an example of people being slaves to consumerism. In Warm Bodies zombies play the role of being those of us who are detached from society and left lost and hopeless. Desperately searching for something to make them feel whole again, but failing to find it. Devouring others helps them to briefly feel something, even if momentarily. For example, eating a person's brain allows them to relieve their memories. It's a great twist on classic zombie motivations.
The romantic relationship between R and Julie doesn't feel contrived or cheesy, which is a pretty solid achievement for a movie about a zombie falling in love. Hoult and Palmer play off each other rather well, though I really wish they had done something to Palmer to make her look less like Kristen Stewart. I tried hard not to make the comparison in my mind, but she just looks so much like her in the movie. Thankfully Palmer is a far superior actress. Hoult also does a pretty excellent job of fleshing out R. He spends most of the movie shrugging and grunting, but as R evolves Hoult's charm really starts to bleed through.
And charming is really the best way to describe the overall tone of the film. It's not ultra violent and it doesn't feel oppressively depressing and yet it's not laugh out loud funny either. It's just...charming. You'll find yourself smiling and enjoying your time in the world of Warm Bodies. There are a few genuinely funny moments that had me rolling, but the strength in the movie lies in watching R break out of his zombie shell and learn what being a real human means.
Final Score: A Warm Bodies isn't your traditional zombie movie, but it does something original with a genre that has grown stale.