No matter how popular a genre is, there always comes a point in which someone takes it too far. Take zombies – a romance between the living and the undead would definitely be that thing to push the genre over the edge. Yet surprisingly, the relationship works well.
To pull this off, a certain character building is required to have one zombie stand out from the rest of the feet draggers. Which is where R’s inner monologue comes in. Warm Bodies uses voiceover work to its fullest potential as we are brought into the mind of a surprisingly self-aware zombie who is unsatisfied with his monotonous day-to-day lack of life among the nightmarish next-door neighbors to the gated human community. He may groan and eat brains with the best of them, but he still manages to create a very human character with thoughts that move much faster than his motor functions, often making jokes at his own expense because of his quality of existence.
The first 5-10 minutes set R and his world up perfectly before throwing in his love interest, Julie (yes, as in certain well known star-crossed lovers), who gets caught by a group of hunger motivated flesh-eaters during a supply run outside the comfort of her steel enforced walls. R is among the hunting party, bringing about the opportunity for his dead eyes to experience love at first site. Thump thump.
As exciting as it is to be the first human ever saved by a zombie, Julie still has a good excuse to be rather upset about her current predicament, but the human sides of her monosyllabic captor help soften the blow somewhat, even if it can’t quell the smell of the dead element. That’s right, R is able to force out a word or two here and there, which thankfully has some inference of explanation as the pieces are laid out for those willing to put two and two together because it would have been a major sticking point had a talking zombie not been. But “stay” and “hungry” only get so far conversationally, pushing Nicholas Hoult to really use expressions to bring a warmth and personality to R in response to Teresa Palmer when the inner-monologue cannot work on its own.
Even with some fun action beats coming from the bonies (who do look rather silly during their awkward cardio workouts, if you’re looking for a downside to this film) and surprisingly violent zombies, the film relies nicely on the humor found in this pairing and the humanity still remaining in R. He knows exactly what he is, but doesn’t let that restrain what he is capable of being. And neither does Warm Bodies.
Final Grade: B+ Follow @BewareOfTrees