If you’ve ever read any history on George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, you’ll find that it is a direct rip off of Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. While Matheson’s book followed vampires, Romero decided he couldn’t be that blatant and based his story on “the dead stop being dead”. In the original film, bites did not just convert people into “ghouls”; Every living human that died became reanimated.
However, nobody offered an explanation why the zombies craved human flesh in the film.
The Return of the Living Dead attempted to answer this and had the zombie explain that brains contained something in them that made being dead less painful. Game/movie series Resident Evil (whose T-Virus transforms people into zombies) explains it by saying the virus was produced by introducing it to leeches early in its development. 28 Days Later kept the zombies alive, but made them ultra aggressive due to the virus acting like rabies on living organisms.
Warm Bodies explains it in a different and quite interesting fashion. The zombies still hold onto pieces of their humanity, and (despite craving flesh) brains are eaten because the zombies get some of the memories held in them. It makes them feel less dead.
Warm Bodies follows “R” (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie that can’t quite remember his own name. He wanders around an airport all day, and even has a zombie friend called “M” (Rob Corddry). In the world of “R” and “M”, there are two types of zombies: those that have shred all resemblance of humanity (including their skin) called Boneys and those that still look human (Fleshies).
Julie (Teresa Palmer) is a young woman that is sent to an abandoned city on a supply mission. She lives in a fortified city not far from it, and is the daughter of an important General. “R” and his band of zombies meet up with Julie and her supply team. During the battle, “R” devours Julie’s boyfriend and immediately gains feelings for her. He helps her to escape to his home (an airplane on the runway).
While here, Julie begins to trust “R” more and more and “R” begins “coming to life”. He can speak rudimentary phrases, and Julie and he bond.
Warm Bodies is an updated/undead version of Romeo and Juliet. Hell, even the names are direct references. I liked the concept, and the movie was a great popcorn flick. However, it went a little fast in transforming our hero from undead to alive.
“R” seems alive before the movie even really gets going, and it’s not Hoult’s fault. He plays the role just fine. My problem is that “R” is already exhibiting signs of being alive before love “makes him feel alive”. The only difference is that (after he meets Julie) he is eating the boyfriend’s brains and he relishes these specific feelings at this particular time. It’s not a transforming moment. It’s a culmination. The filler and backstory at the beginning seem out of place to the rest of what the movie wants us to believe in. I may have been more accepting to this premise had “R” been introduced to us like Bub was in Day of the Dead.
Once the story gets going, however, I enjoyed it. It’s a fun teen flick that experiments with different zombie apocalypse scenerios, and has fun with it. In fact, one of my favorite watches is Daybreakers (a movie about vampires yearning to be human again) and that is the same theme as what is presented here. The characters are likeable, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Warm Bodies is your traditional zombie love story told through the eyes of the undead. While I didn’t like the setup to the movie, I was pleasantly surprised in it. It’s a great date movie for the horror fan as my wife ( not a big horror fan) liked it as well. It is worth a look.