Warm Bodies is a romantic zombie comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Levine and released in 2013. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a zombie outbreak has left only a few survivors. The movie stars Nicholas Hoult as R, a young zombie who falls in love with a human survivor, Julie, played by Teresa Palmer. The film also features Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, and Analeigh Tipton in supporting roles.
The idea for Warm Bodies came from Isaac Marion’s novel with the same title, initially intended as a short story. The book was published in 2011, became a bestseller, and had its rights acquired by Summit Entertainment.
The movie was released in February 2013 to generally positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. While not winning any Oscars, the movie has been praised for its unique take on the zombie genre, its blend of romance and humor, and its strong performances from the cast.
Warm Bodies: A Plot Summary
Warm Bodies follows R, a young zombie living in an abandoned airport with other zombies. One day, while hunting for brains with his zombie friends, R encounters Julie, a living human, and instantly feels a connection to her. R rescues Julie from the other zombies and takes her back to his home in the airport.
As R and Julie spend more time together, R begins to regain his humanity, and the two develop a bond transcending their zombie/human divide. However, their relationship is not without challenges. First, their relationship is complicated by the fact that R was the one who killed and ate the brains of Julie’s boyfriend. Another major threat to their connection arose when Julie’s father, a human military force leader, enters the airport to wipe out the zombies.
As tensions between the two groups escalate, R and Julie must fight to stay together and find a way to bring peace between the living and the undead.
Warm Bodies: Themes
Perhaps the most distinguishing quality of Warm Bodies is how it cleverly subverts traditional zombie movie tropes that we have found ourselves accustomed to thanks to TV shows like The Walking Dead. While the movie still features many of the regular tropes, such as its post-apocalyptic setting and the struggle for survival theme, it does much more than that.
For instance, the movie is centered largely around the theme of romantic love, which is a relatively new angle in a genre that tends to focus more on gore and horror. With the unlikely romance between R, a zombie, and Julie, a human, Warm Bodies explores love as something that is not dependent on physical attraction. Instead, the romantic love between R and Julie stems from a shared understanding of each other’s experiences and a mutual desire for connection in a divided world. Thus, the love shared by R and Julie transcends their apparent differences, leading them to harbor hope that they can also bridge the divide between humans and zombies.
Another critical theme that can be observed in the movie is that of humanity. The movie explores the salient question of what exactly constitutes humanity. We see this, particularly through R’s various subtle human traits from the beginning, later amplified by his connection with Julie. At the same time, we observe humans displaying much savagery and little empathy, showing that humans can also be like zombies sometimes.
There are other ways humans are shown to be zombie-like throughout the movie. In an interview with NPR, director Jonathan Levine points out how commercialism has made people more like zombies. This theme is prominent in the scene at the beginning of the movie, which shows people at the airport stuck in their internal boxes and wandering around, almost bumping into one another.
The movie also explores how social norms can be very harmful and limiting. From the movie’s beginning, we see how humans have adopted a rigid view of zombies, seeing them as mindless, dangerous creatures. While this view is not totally unjustified, it results in the humans being unable to see beyond their differences to connect on a deeper level. This is a social commentary on how society, through norms, often creates artificial and unnecessary barriers between people based on race, class, and physical appearance. However, as we see in the characters of R and Julie, these societal norms can be challenged to attain a less divided world.
Warm Bodies: Acting & Direction Analysis
Warm Bodies’ cast delivers strong and convincing performances, bringing life to Jonathan Levine’s creative vision for the film. Notably, the lead characters are well-developed and extremely nuanced.
Nicholas Hoult leads the cast as R, the film’s zombie protagonist. He delivers an excellent performance, doing a great job of showing nuance and depth even with a zombie character. Hoult can achieve this, in large part, due to his ability to convey a wide range of emotions, from humor to despair to genuine love. He is remarkably expressive with his eyes, making his character memorable, unique, and interesting – especially in comparison to the typical zombie portrayal.
Teresa Palmer also delivers a strong performance as Julie, the human survivor who falls in love with R. Palmer brings great energy and charm to the role, which makes Julie a likable and relatable character. Her chemistry with Hoult is excellent, leading to the romantic subplot of the movie feeling authentic and emotionally resonant.
The supporting cast is also noteworthy, with Rob Corddry giving a standout performance as M, R’s zombie friend. Corddry delivers some of the film’s funniest lines and brings humor and warmth to his role. Dave Franco and Analeigh Tipton also deliver strong performances as Julie’s human friends, adding depth and more humor to the movie.
The direction of the movie is just as splendid as its acting. Director Jonathan Levine expertly blends romance, comedy, and horror in Warm Bodies – not an easy feat! The result is a unique and truly enjoyable movie that feels fresh and innovative.
Levine’s use of various cinematic techniques is particularly noteworthy. For instance, there are a lot of close-up shots, which help convey the most subtle of emotions from the actions. Similarly, the use of slow-motion makes the movie’s action scenes even more appealing. The movie can seamlessly blend the typical gritty and desolate landscape of a post-apocalyptic world with the dreamlike quality of a love story.
Warm Bodies: Music
Another reason Warm Bodies is successfully able to combine elements of horror, romance, and comedy is its music. The movie’s soundtrack features various genres, including electronic music, pop, alternative, and indie rock. The music played throughout the film is not only significant but also a clever storytelling tool, and each song is carefully selected to match the mood of every scene, thus enhancing it.
The use of music is particularly effective during the scenes where the zombie protagonist R experiences human emotions and begins to connect with the living world. The music serves as a bridge between the two worlds, helping to convey R’s transformation from a mindless zombie to a sentient being capable of love and understanding. The masterful use of „Shelter from the Storm” by Bob Dylan is particularly memorable in an emotional scene between R and Julie.
We also hear more energetic and upbeat songs during the funnier scenes in the movie. Overall, the use of music in Warm Bodies adds an extra layer of depth and emotion to the movie, helping to create a unique and unforgettable viewing experience.
Warm Bodies: Reception
Warm Bodies was generally received positively by critics and the general audience. In particular, the movie was praised for its unique approach to the zombie genre and appealing themes. It was also a commercial success, topping the box office in February 2013 over other titles like Silver Linings Playbook which was nominated at the Oscars. Critics also praised the actors’ strong performances and Jonathan Levine’s brilliance.
Most viewers have found the movie’s unique combination of romance, comedy, and horror effective and charming, and over the years, the movie has gained a strong following among audiences who are drawn to its unconventional premise and endearing characters.
The Final Word on Warm Bodies
Overall, Warm Bodies is viewed as a refreshing departure from zombie movies’ repetitive and almost tiring tropes. After all, how many movies can you think of that include a love story between a zombie and a human? Not many, that’s for sure, making Warm Bodies a movie that is fresh and different. This novel and innovative storyline, combined with excellent acting and meaningful themes, certainly makes Warm Bodies a memorable entry in the zombie genre and a romantic zombie comedy-drama film that nobody should miss!