Movie Review: “Warm Bodies” – Romeo & Juliet: Undead Edition

Written by Leo Panasyuk February 02, 2013


Throughout the years, we’ve seen several iterations of the zombie film. Be it the classic rise-from-the-dead zombies in George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” or be it the Usain Bolt-like zombies in Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later”, zombies are a big part of film. But while we’ve seen the conventional cold, dead, eat-your-brains type zombies, what we haven’t really seen are loving, caring and compassionate zombies. Well, Jonathan Levine’s “Warm Bodies” looks to change all that by sinking its teeth into an untouched sub-genre of the zombie film: the romantic zombie comedy, (or rom-zom-com, if you will).

His Body May Be Cold, But His Love Isn’t

"Oh, man... is that really what I look like?"

“Oh, man… is that really what I look like?”

“Warm Bodies” is an adaptation of Isaac Marion’s debut novel of the same name. The film centers on R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who’s just living (I use that lightly) day-to-day among his other zombie friends, one of which includes M (Rob Corddry), then one day he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer). R is instantly smitten by Julie whom he rescues from the other zombies and protects her. The film then takes off with R trying to show Julie that he’s not just a dead, flesh-eating monster but a kind and loving being. The plot thickens when Julie realizes that R’s love for her is bringing him back to life. But the road to R’s conversion is rather rocky. With a few potholes.

You Gotta Look Alive in the Dead Zone

As mentioned in the title of this review, this story takes a lot of elements from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. That’s not to say it’s a direct adaptation but it certainly borrows a lot from that particular play. In fact, one could even go so far as to draw a parallel to this film and “Beauty and the Beast”. But I digress. Initially, I was a little annoyed by the character of R but he grew on me as if I were Julie. As the film progresses, he becomes less and less of a zombie and more and more of a human and a couple of key moments help reinforce the fact that he’s returning to the world of the living. The same, however, cannot be said about his zombie buddies as their conversion back to humanity appears much more rapid than his and in essence, they do half the work and get just as far.

Zombie bromance. Doesn't get much realer than this.

Zombie bromance. Doesn’t get much realer than this.

That being said, I did enjoy the rest of the zombie cast. Even though most of them just stood, stumbled or sauntered around, they made R’s world look halfway-civilized. I just wish they had better makeup. But where this film lacked in makeup it made up for in special effects. The emaciated sub-zombie characters known as “Bonies” are all CGI but they look so terrifying and have plenty of close-ups that they make you remember why they’re so fearsome. Another tiny annoyance was with Julie’s father (John Malkovich), a Big Brother-esque character who rules over the human survivors but whose character is so wooden and unmoving that he almost seems like a zombie himself. But despite these little bumps in the road, the film still delivers a decent amount of laughs and some of the jokes and one-liners had the audience roaring with laughter, myself included.

Death Isn’t Always the End

“Warm Bodies” is a film that is what it is: a unique story of zombie meets girl that works well enough in its own universe that it’s plenty enjoyable. With a 21st century spin on a classic tale underscored by a very catchy and varied soundtrack and acted well enough by its cast, one can overlook the plot holes and continuity errors and have fun with the fact that, yes, if a girl can love a glittery vampire, then she can sure as hell love a zombie.

My Rating: 7/10


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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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