Warm Bodies review

Banana Rating: 4 out of 5

Warm Bod­ies is based on a novel by Isaac Marion. And they don’t come much more high concept. It’s Twi­light with zom­bies. Or is it Romeo and Juliet with zom­bies? I’m sure Isaac Marion would prefer the second com­par­ison, but there’s no deny­ing that the suc­cess of Twi­light must’ve been in the back of his mind when scrab­bling around for a new human/supernatural love story that hadn’t been done before.

Even the female lead, Teresa Palmer, bears a strik­ing resemb­lance to Kristen Stew­art. Thank­fully, Palmer doesn’t seem to have an emo­tional range that con­sists mostly of one blank expres­sion, whilst occa­sion­ally doing a funny thing with her mouth, like she’s just gulped down a glass of bit­ter lemon. Nope, Teresa Palmer is alto­gether more express­ive than Kristen Stew­art, and is essen­tially a blon­der, warmer, more likable ver­sion of the Twi­light misery guts.

Just as well she can act, as the concept of love between a human and a zom­bie is a tricky (not to men­tion icky) one to get the head around.

As ever, one of those pesky apo­ca­lypses has screwed the world up. Nobody’s sure how it happened. Nich­olas Hoult, play­ing a zom­bie called “R”, talks of a num­ber of the­or­ies in the film’s open­ing nar­ra­tion. It’s not import­ant. Because at this point I’m think­ing, “Wait a minute? A zom­bie nar­rat­ing the movie? I thought they were just walk­ing meat pup­pets, look­ing for their next meal?”

Des­pite him hav­ing some semb­lance of proper human thought, he’s still a zom­bie, cap­able only of grunts and moans for com­mu­nic­a­tion. But it’s enough to spark some­thing more when he hap­pens across Julie (Teresa Palmer), part of a recon­nais­sance team sent from a walled off human enclave to gather supplies.

Zomromcom

Warm Bod­ies takes a num­ber of things from romantic fic­tion — love at first sight, lov­ers from dif­fer­ent sides of the tracks, a man unable to change until he meets the right woman — and mashes them up with zom­bie fic­tion. Now, I love the zom­bie genre. And whilst there are a lot of bad zom­bie movies out there, if I had the choice, I would take the zom­bie film over the romcom.

Which is why I’m genu­inely sur­prised that I liked Warm Bod­ies as much as I did. To bal­ance the hor­ror of zom­bies with the sweet­ness of romance can’t have been easy. We see “R” eat­ing brains. We see one guy rip­ping half his face off to become one of the film’s super zom­bies, a “boney” (who are bey­ond sav­ing). But in expand­ing on some­thing Romero tried way back when with Day Of The Dead, there’s a touch­ing, more optim­istic side to this par­tic­u­lar zom­bie apocalypse.

The zom­bie and human rela­tion­ship could have been too daft (it is quite humour­ous at times though), and it could have been too unpleas­ant. But Palmer and Hoult who dom­in­ate huge stretches of the film, are good together. Palmer moves from fear through to under­stand­ing, then accept­ance. Houltgrunts a lot. Sure, the premise might be a bit sappy for those of you look­ing for a more tra­di­tional zom­bie film where human­ity has no hope. But we have plenty of films like that already.

Warm Bod­ies is a bit dif­fer­ent. I like different.