Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that zombies are ridiculously popular. Through a plethora of films and television shows (here’s looking at you, The Walking Dead), the zombie sub-genre has exploded into the mainstream, joining other pop-culture phenomenons like vampires and werewolves. Although over the years we have received a multitude of zombie survival films, none of them have really revolutionized the way we see these creatures. Other than 28 Day Later introducing zombies that could run ferociously at their intended target, the formula for a zombie film has always stayed pretty much the same: one or two lonesome survivors meet up with others and form a group as they try to survive the oncoming apocalypse. So when the first trailer was released for Warm Bodies, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I saw a zombie film with a fresh premise that no one had ever done before, but on the other, I saw a film that, if not handled correctly, would become Twilight with zombies. To my surprise, not only is this film extremely innovative in the way it portrays this well-known creature, but it’s also very enjoyable, funny, and full of heart.
What’s really fantastic about this Warm Bodies is actually how original the premise is. From first shot to last, this film impresses you with how much they have changed up the dynamic of the modern zombie. Nicholas Hoult (best known from the television show Skins) does a fantastic job transforming into this role, portraying a type zombie that is very uncommon for most audiences. Through the sharply written voiceovers and his ability to convey emotion through body language, I found myself really rooting for his lifeless character. Rob Corddry provides us with laughs throughout, portraying our main zombie’s best friend, but has his share of scenes that give us a reason to care for his character as well. Director Jonathan Levine, who most recently directed the exceptional and criminally underseen 50/50, was a fantastic catch for this film. His style gives what could have been a very boring and formulaic film a heartwarming indie feel, and through the slick comedic writing and unbelievably catchy soundtrack, Bodies moves with a youthful spirit that is sure to be irresistible to many.
However, other than Nicholas Hoult and Rob Corddry, the acting throughout the film is pretty subpar. While Teresa Palmer has moments throughout the film in which she performs well, when it comes to the serious scenes she really falters. John Malkovich is in the film as well but not long enough to care about what happens to his character. Other than those two, the rest of the supporting cast is very disappointing, following cliché after cliché, almost to the point of playing caricatures of people. Nevertheless, these performances are not the fault of the actors and actresses alone. While Levine’s writing is undeniably slick and funny, his dialogue in dramatic scenes is way to over-the-top and ultimately gave these performers very little to work with
Overall, Warm Bodies is a prime example of an original idea being executed well and nothing more, nothing extra special. Though it’s not perfect by any means, Jonathan Levine takes this concept and makes a film with relatable characters, hilarious dialogue, and a touch of heart here and there. Although the acting falls flat in some places, a fantastic young director, a great soundtrack, and solid leading actors find a way to pick up the slack and then some. Though this is not a film that you need to rush out and see on opening night, if you have nothing to do on a Saturday and can catch a matinee, I think you will be entertained.
Review by Nick Franco