The loving dead – Warm Bodies review

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By Jess Lomas
April 10, 2013

Most characters in romantic comedies are looking for love. In Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies, our protagonist is looking for brains … to eat. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion, this futuristic Romeo and Juliet love story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies roam the streets and the surviving humans have sheltered in a gated community. We follow a zombie – known simply as R (Nicholas Hoult) – who can’t remember anything about his life before the plague that increased his appetite for human brains.

R roams the airport with the similarly undead M (Rob Corddry), taking shelter at night in an old plane, surrounded by trinkets found during his wanderings, seemingly collected in an attempt to piece his memory back together. On the human side there is Julie (Teresa Palmer), whose father Grigio (John Malkovich) runs the refuge and sends out scavenging parties to bring back much needed medical supplies. There’s also Julie’s boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and her friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton); one of them won’t survive an attack from R’s buddies when they head outside the wall for provisions.

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It’s lust at first sight for R, but it isn’t until he begins to eat Perry’s brain – and ingests memories of their relationship – that he truly falls for Julie, ultimately deciding to rescue her from the other zombies and taking her back to the airport to keep her safe. A friendship blossoms between the two over the ensuing days; one that sets about a change in R and could prove to reverse the zombie apocalypse. Now, one could be excused for giving Warm Bodies a wide berth, particularly after being saturated by the likes of Twilight. Vampires, zombies … what’s the difference, right? Fear not. What director Jonathan Levine has crafted from Marion’s novel is a smart, witty, and all-out cute romantic comedy that encourages the audience to cheer on two unlikely lovers.

While the movie depicts an as-yet untapped romantic pairing, creating intrigue further propelled by charming lead performances, it does fall back on classic stereotypes that let the film down somewhat, namely Malkovich’s hot-headed, overly protective father. Thankfully, Hoult, Palmer, and Corddry keep delivering the laughs. What results is an unassuming and surprising feature that might not delight those who like their zombies conscious-free, but will reward those seeking an alternative to the usual romantic template.

3.5/5

Warm Bodies arrives in Australian cinemas April 11, 2013.

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