Written by / 2/02/2013 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

WARM BODIES

year: 2013 cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich rating: ***1/2
In the early pre-caffeinated mornings, we’re all zombies, aren’t we? And what’s that thing audiences seem to love about zombies anyway? And after so many ultra violent tales of flesh-eating foes, why should we suddenly feel for them now?

They do walk slow, gaze longingly, and reach out their arms like someone about to give a great big hug, all the while groaning like love sick coyotes.

The premise of WARM BODIES is that zombies are people too, especially R (we’ll explain that name later), who wanders an airport with a narrating/subconscious desire to be human, eventually boarding an abandoned jet plane where he listens to music (from 80’s pop to Bob Dylan) on a record player.

Of course there are humans in this post-Apocalyptic world, banded within confined perimeters and, every once or twice, venturing outside. Armed with guns they have to fight off the zombies who, no matter how subliminally passive, still must dine on flesh and especially, like the cliché goes, brains! 

There’s a unique “rule” introduced to the genre, which provides a lot of the plot points herein: When a zombie eats a human brain, it gains insight into that victim's memories.

Let’s make it clear: with all the sinewy violence this is not a horror movie but a romantic comedy. Enter blond-haired beauty Teresa Palmer as Julie, one of a group of humans attacked by zombies, including R… He kills her boyfriend and winds up saving her life.

Back on his airplane, the extremely polar opposites slowly bond through music-filled montages, and throughout all this, while secretly snacking on her boyfriend’s mind, R gets his flashbacks, also related to her life whilst providing glimpses into the pre-zombie backstory. 

The underlying charm has R falling for Julie and, like any smitten male, he’s tongue tied in her presence. Although this particular fella does have an excuse – zombies can’t say much other than grunts and groans.

The evolution of his speaking skills coincides with their blossoming kinship, igniting a peaceful desire within the other zombies – who aren’t completely safe either. Lurking about are fleshless zombies called “Bonies” providing the really cold-blooded antagonists: As is (at first) John Malkovich’s intensely narrow-minded head human leader Grigio, Julie’s father, who doesn’t instantly “warm up” to her daughter’s new crush.

With just about everything that a horror/action movie would provide, including zombies eating humans, skeletons hunting zombies, and eventually a big bloody battle to save the human race, this is really a good old fashion love story.

Lanky blue-eyed Nicholas Hoult is perfect as R (Julie named him that since “Rrrrrr” was the only thing he could speak when trying to recall his name)… The melancholy expressions, changing from a brooding corpse to a more animated lost soul realizing true love, seem genuine, making lines like “It’s easier not to feel… then I wouldn’t have to feel like this” more deep than corny.  While Teresa Palmer makes a worthy damsel-in-distress who’s equally assertive and headstrong. (Rob Corddry as R's zombie buddy is awesome too!) 

So while the famously infamous TWILIGHT franchise wallows in pretentious melodrama that only starry-eyed teenage girls can relate to, WARM BODIES, mixing dark comedic romance with a parody of both the young doomed relationship and zombie horror genres, is something for just about anyone who ever fell dead in love with a desire to come back to life because of it.
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