Film review: Warm Bodies

Poster for the film "Warm Bodies".
Poster for the film “Warm Bodies”.
Warm Bodies is an unexpected gem. It’s a romantic comedy zombie apocalypse film from director Jonathan Levine and based on the novel of the same title by Isaac Marion.

An unexplained event caused a large percentage of the population to turn into the undead about eight years prior to the events in the film. The humans barricaded themselves behind a very high wall in part of the city in order to keep the undead out. The main character of the film, a zombie known as “R”, is a collector of random things and dwells (he’s undead, so he can’t really “live”) in an abandoned 747 at the local airport (the location is never really given specifically, though references are made to it being somewhere in the United States).

He and a group of his “friends” encounter a group of humans, including a young woman named Julie, who are raiding an abandoned hospital for needed medicines. During the encounter, R attacks Julie’s boyfriend and then eats his brains—out of sight of Julie and the camera (mostly). He then turns to go after Julie and something in him changes. Instead of killing her and eating her brains, he smears blood on her to hide her “living scent” and takes her back to his home in the plane.

The whole premise of Warm Bodies gives a fresh spin to the typical zombie flick (that’s the romantic comedy part). While there is plenty of zombie goodness for those who enjoy that, this is not a gory or overtly graphic film (though there are some shocking scenes during zombie attacks). One of my favorite parts is the narration from the point of view of R throughout a significant portion of the movie. I think this made the film more accessible. Rather than R being the typical “mindless undead”, it shows the “human” side of the zombies, especially once R’s change starts spreading to other undead.

My only real complaint about the film is how the zombies seemed to have more character than most of the humans in the film. Julie’s father, played by John Malkovich, seemed very two-dimensional until the very end of the film. I also think the director was making subtle hints that people need to interact more and enjoy the things that make us human so we don’t become mindless zombies, each absorbed in our own little worlds. Maybe I’m reading too much into the film…and maybe not.

Regardless, Warm Bodies is a fun flick for older teens and above. Anyone younger may be freaked out by those few shocking scenes I mentioned. It will tickle your brain (in a good, non-undead way). You know you’re dying to see it.

Release Date: February 1, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13

MySF Rating: Four point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 60%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (alcohol at dinner)
Language: 3 (occasional expletives, including deity)
Nudity: 1 (female in underwear from back)
Sexuality: 1 (thoughts from R during the scene mentioned directly above)
Violence: 4 (some zombie and zombie-fighting violence)

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