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This undead take on Romeo and Juliet is significantly more charming and witty than it has any right to be....
Summit / 98 Minutes / 2013 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: June 4, 2013
It was bound to happen. In previews before the last Breaking Dawn movie (yeah, yeah – I saw it…), Warm Bodies seemed like a predictably winking nod to the modern obsession with paranormal romance. A human girl falling for a surprisingly lucid undead brain-eating zombie? Hey, if Edward and Bella can make it work, why can’t they?
In Warm Bodies, our husky-voiced narrator and protagonist is R. (Nicholas Hoult) is a dude (zombies can be called ‘dude’, right?) who has been swept away by the zombie apocalypse that has brought the planet to a standstill. They groan as they walk, they search for brains, he has a strong yet relatively mute relationship with his best buddy M. (Rob Corddry): life has become pretty routine for this poor undead guy.
But then he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), a living human whose mission to go out into the zombie-infested world to retrieve supplies ends up going poorly. R. consumes the brains of Julie’s beau – in one of the movie’s most inspired and twisted developments – and he starts to look at Julie differently, as though she’s more than just a walking apparatus attached to a delicious brain… And, somehow, the two spark up a connection. Their worlds might literally be at war with each other (grab your Shakespeare Cliff’s Notes), but this pretty young thing and the smarter-than-usual drooling zombie who befriends her might just be falling in love.
Warm Bodies is not a perfect film – far from it, actually. Its final half hour is woefully vanilla, and even the addition of John Malkovich as the head of the human brigade can’t liberate the material from feeling like just another zombie movie as it screeches toward a limp finale. But the moments when R. and Julie start to assess each other when Warm Bodies becomes a witty, acerbic post-Twilight treat. It’s never as biting or appealingly outrageous as it has the potential to be, but there’s still a faintly beating heart under this carcass’ zombie shell.