Jeanne: A zombie movie with a twist, go figure. I'm not particularly fond of this genre, except for the terrific "Shaun of the Dead", but "Warm Bodies", starring Nicholas Hoult, as the pale, but still really handsome zombie, and Teresa Palmer, as his gorgeous human love interest, puts a whole new spin on the relationships between us and them.
R (Hoult) rambles through his zombie world, the Dead Zone, outside the massive wall of the city, the Green Zone, where what's left of the humans braces for battle with the dead. He's hungry, lonely and unable to communicate save for a few grunts here and there. He and his best friend, M (Rob Corddry), wander the war-torn streets looking for food, i.e., humans, who are stupid enough to venture outside of their protective wall.
The humans, led by General Grigio (John Malkovich) live in mortal fear of the zombies, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons. Scavenger parties are sent out looking for supplies, while warned to shoot any zombies in the head to annihilate them forever.
On one such mission, Grigio's daughter, Julie (Palmer), her boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco) and Julie's best friend, Nora (Analeigh Tipton) are amongst the brave idiots sent forth for medical replenishments. As luck would have it, they encounter R, M and their band of merry zombies, and chaos ensues. R is immediately drawn to Julie, even more so after he eats Perry's brain and recovers all of Perry's memories.
R saves Julie from certain death, whisking her off to his home in an airplane. He falls deeply in love with her, then things start to change --- for them both.
"Warm Bodies" is poignant and quite humorous. It's not nearly as funny as "Shaun of the Dead", but it does have its moments. Hoult and Palmer have a distinct and very compelling chemistry. We root for them every step of the way. Perry was becoming a creep, because all he concentrated on was killing zombies. But R wants to take care of Julie and keep her safe. He's also very good at taking suggestions on how to improve himself --- note to David.
Malkovich is a little over the top, as has been his M.O. of late. In his defense, he's not given much to do by director/writer Jonathan Levine, who adapted Isaac Marion's popular novel. The real crowd pleaser in this film is Corddry, who got his start as a correspondent on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". M embodies all that is good about the human race and Corddry never missteps or overplays his character.
There are a few corny moments such as Julie just happening to be sitting on her balcony with R skulking underneath, a la Romeo and Juliet. But, all in all, "Warm Bodies" is a delightfully amusing insight into the human experience.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
David: Check your skepticism at the door, sit back, and enjoy a most unique tale from the world of zombies. Writer/director Jonathan Levine ("50/50") has adapted the novel by Isaac Marion, and brought to the screen an absorbing science fiction drama, laced with comedy, that makes "Night of the Living Dead" (sorry, George) look like an amateur outing.
The year is unstated, the setting could be any big city in America. At the forefront of the story is a 20-something zombie named R --- he vaguely recalls his human name beginning with an "r" --- who is not your average zoned-out, stoop-shouldered, foot-dragging zombie. The survivors of whatever it was that turned much of the populace into walking dead refer to the zombies as corpses. They don't sleep, they don't bleed, and they eat the brains of freshly killed humans. Plus, the zombies have their own enemies to worry about, namely fast-moving skeletons called "bonies" who were once zombies, but have moved into an advanced state of living death.
R is played marvelously by Nicholas Hoult ("A Single Man", and the upcoming "Jack the Giant Slayer"), and he is ably accompanied by Teresa Palmer as Julie, the human daughter of Grigio (John Malkovich), the "1984"-like, omnipotent leader of the army whose job it is to shoot zombies on sight. As R and Julie evolve into a romantic relationship, it sets up an obvious conflict with Grigio. But getting to that point is most of the fun.
For whatever reason, R is not like the other zombies. He retains barely a shred of his former being, but as bits of his humanity resurface, something magical begins to happen. Rob Corddry plays an older zombie named M, and he, too, feels the effect of the burgeoning relationship between R and Julie.
Zombies don't regularly discuss their thoughts and plans, they more or less just grunt and moan. So to give the audience an insight into R's background, Hoult's character spends a lot of time narrating the film with his own stream-of-consciousness, and with satisfying results.
The fabulous set designs by Suzanne Cloutier yield the feel of a truly broken world, with danger lurking around every corner. The original music by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders fits the film's mood perfectly. And the attention to detail is wonderful. R's home on an abandoned airplane is filled with everyday objects, like a record player that spins old vinyls, and even a still-cold bottle of Corona beer.
When R shows Julie a still-operating BMW convertible, they take it everywhere, treating deserted airport runways like the Bonneville Salt Flats, and just to throw in a bit of realism, the car eventually runs out of gas.
"Warm Bodies" has a tagline of "He's still dead but he's getting warmer". That's all the intrigue you need to know. This film is funny, exciting and fresh, and the strength of its two lead actors is substantial.
Opinion: See It Now!