FILM: Romeo and Juliet get zombified

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to be a zombie, now’s your chance to find out. Warm Bodies gives a quirky and compelling insight of a day in the life of a zombie.

Hollywood has beaten the dead horse of paranormal romance, but thanks to Jonathan Levine (50/50), movie-goers can join in on the laughs. Warm Bodies’ storyline is relaxed enough to poke fun of the overplayed genre.

The story begins with R (Nicholas Hoult), a misfit among his kind, aimlessly wandering through an airport, having a short conversation comprised of grunts and zombie moans with his best friend, M (Rob Corddry).

The leading zombie characters are named after letters, because they can only remember the first letter of their names. That single letter is the only thing they remember from their previous life before the zombie outbreak.

His tone of voice throughout the story is often witty and amusing, giving his character far more personality than one would expect from a zombie.

Even as a zombie, R realizes it’s awkward to watch someone as they sleep.

It’s the simple and clever details that make this film a real treat. In the film, zombies are considered a society, maintaining basic human traits and thoughts.

As the zombies move as a herd to find food, R comments on their walking pace, “Man we move slow … this could take a while”.

In another scene he passes by a fellow zombie who’s tearing the skin off his own face. R disapprovingly thinks, “Oh don’t pick at it, you’ll make it worse,” in his voice over.

R explains in his voiceover that he yearns to be something more, to have emotion and fond memories.

He takes up an unconventional hobby of collecting vinyl records, snow globes, watches and all kinds of trinkets in substitution for a simple human hobby .

When R joins a hoard of zombies in attacking a group of humans, he literally experiences love at first sight when he sees Julie (Teresa Palmer) while the song “Missing You” by John Waite plays in the background.

This is when R decides to make a spontaneous, human decision by taking Julie to protect her from the rest of his kind.

Warm Bodies’ film score was excellent. It helps tell the story and adds comic relief.

This is a movie that, if anything, will be remembered for its soundtrack with plenty of great 80’s hits by Guns n’ Roses, Bruce Springsteen and Scorpions, among others.

There is even a point when R plays “Shelter from the Storm” by Bob Dylan, to explain to Julie how he understands her emotion.

Music can seriously make or break a scene; it’s part of the story telling.

With all the hype focused on 3-D and action sequences to make unnecessary inanimate objects, music has been thrown in the back burner in many flicks.

Give thanks to the silver screen gods, because Levine had the senses to leave 3-D out of the equation.

As R spends more time with Julie, he develops more human traits, as his adoration for her affects his heart.

And it’s no coincidence that there are references to the story “Romeo and Juliet,” the most obvious one being the similarity in their names, but also the rift between the humans and zombies that the pair tries to mend.

Rob Corddry’s role as M is another great element to the story. Although he doesn’t have nearly as much screen time as Hoult or Palmer, he still manages to deliver a memorable and compelling character.

Unfortunately, not much of the rest of the supporting cast did as well.

Dave Franco has more work ahead of him to get himself out of the typical “cool guy” role because even as a cool guy, viewers don’t miss him when he’s off screen.

Warm Bodies stands pretty well on its own in the zombie film genre. It’s a fresh take on zombies, even if it is recycled from other ideas.

Although it’s not nearly as dark and gory as other zombie-slasher flicks, the movie delivers in the story line and the performances of the leading roles.

You get to know R and Julie well enough to care for them. The same goes for M.

The film’s pace was rushed in the beginning, but the timing became more steady with story development between R and Julie.

The worst thing someone can do is compare Warm Bodies to the Twilight saga. Although Warm Bodies was a book-to-film adaptation as well, it reaches to wider range of viewers.

Hype is fuel to competition, and with the Twilight series finally over there’s no need to compete.

Warm Bodies brings a fun, new perspective in a clean slate of the supernatural and romance. It’s a tongue in cheek response to the zombie hype.

Don’t expect it to be anything like Dawn of the Dead or Zombieland.  You’ll probably be disappointed.

Warm Bodies is completely different and refreshing.

There’s something oddly endearing about the idea of an awkward, brain-munching zombie finding love.

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