Movie review: Warm Bodies is here and we grab a taste

Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, Skins, X-Men First Class) and Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, she was Number Six) star in Warm Bodies, a tale about star-crossed lovers in a time of the apocalypse. R, the zombie, meets Julie, who he promptly falls in love (?!) with – but which human would love the undead, especially when she’s been trained to hunt them down?

Warm Bodies is the newest entrant in the RomZomCom genre – the romantic zombie comedy possibly first pioneered by Edgar Wright’s Shaun Of The Dead and joined by Zombieland, which starred Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone. It’s not a dead genre by any means – zombies being pretty popular around these times – but even then, does Warm Bodies still have life in it, or is it dead on arrival?

Direcow  Avatar Direcow and Kakita  Avatar Kakita weigh in – and since Peter isn’t around, drdoom Doom will do it for you.

Direcow  Avatar Even before you sit down to catch Warm Bodies, it’s pretty clear that it’s aimed at romcom lovers who don’t mind a bit of zom to spice up their movies – the trailer and the poster make it pretty clear. But that would be doing Warm Bodies a disservice, as there’s quite a lot of layers in this movie that’s worth biting into, and it’s a pity that some parts just fall limp.

Kakita  Avatar Yeah. I really want to love it, but some parts seemed… dead (oh look at me I’m so funny). I think what was the biggest stretch for me (which is of course the selling point) is that this movie turns the entire Zombie genre on its head. Rather than undead, unthinking monsters, zombies in Warm Bodies have that spark of humanity that can essentially be fanned back into life. The premise is definitely out there; most of my movie experience involved me actively suppressing everything I learnt in half a lifetime of D&D, L4D and WD (that’s Walking Dead to you) zombie mashing.

Photo: Summit Entertainment
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Direcow  Avatar Yeah, that’s really one thing that makes it stand out – these zombies aren’t your regular Joe-Zombies, but something different. We’ve long seen different takes of the Zombie genre from 28 Days Later to The Walking Dead – it’s a pity that we don’t really understand what exactly happens during an infection.

Kakita  Avatar You can’t explain it! It’s essentially a zombie Dr Who episode! It’s all about the story and the character dressed up in timey wimey zombie wombie flim flam. Any rational attempt at trying to figure it out will expose it as the randomness it is. And that’s what gets me. I wildly vacillate between ‘hur hur hur zombies aren’t supposed to do that its so funny and meta’ and ‘OMG ZOMBIES CAN’T DO THAT’ /nerdrage.

Direcow  Avatar Which – while a constant nagging feeling at the back of your head – would be also kinda missing the point. Brush away the dead skin and underneath it all is a pretty straightforward kooky romance that in the end is heightened by the way it plays with the zombie genre and the awkward boy meets hot girl romance trope.

Kakita  Avatar True. Just like Dr Who (in my opinion of course), this timey wimey zombie wombie flim flam is just a set piece for overarching character stories, carried by strong character actors, which is the reason why Nicholas Hoult was a great, GREAT pick for the movie. With a lot of experience in ‘boy meets girl’ movies, and being such an actor (and of course his pretty, pretty face), he manages to get us to identify with him pretty well, even if all he can do is communicate in grunts, inner monologue and music on vinyl.

Photo: Summit Entertainment
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Direcow  Avatar Music on vinyl – hipster style! That’s another win for the movie right there – the soundtrack is all awesome from 80s classics to modern indie hits from the likes of Bon Iver, The National and M83 – if anything it really helps set the mood and ground the movie. I’d have to say the choice of music and shots – while nothing spectacular – really shows that director Jonathan Levine knows his stuff. A lot of it is in fact playing on genre tropes (possibly tongue-in-cheek), which actually makes Warm Bodies way more meta (together with its play on the zombie genre) that I would have thought possible. It’s really a pretty clever film – if not for some huge plot holes (zombies only shuffle slowly, but run when the movie calls for it) – and a horrible, horrible feeling of necrophilia and Stockholm Syndrome.

Kakita  Avatar I think with all the Twilight in mass media a pretty boy zombie should get a free pass. But yeah, it’s those glaring bits that shock me out of my suspension of disbelief. Still the heart is definitely in the movie, if not the brains. Both the music as well as the actors carried the movie. Believe it or not, I think I identified most with the zombies, and not the humans.

Direcow  Avatar Haha yeah – the zombies definitely get the best lines in the movie, the humans mostly simple cardboard caricatures. Still, it kinda fits pretty well into the mould of what it’s obviously based on – Willy Shake’s R+J, with Mercutio the fun loving M (Robert Corddry) and R and Julie getting their grand scene. (Does it end the same way? We won’t tell.)

Photo: Summit Entertainment
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Kakita  Avatar I can’t believe I didn’t see that one coming.

Direcow  Avatar And well it also is somewhat R+J in the way of Phantom Of The Opera like you mentioned, with Christine willing to sing for her captor, The Phantom. Once again, Stockholm Syndrome. This really rubbed me the wrong way the most – I know it’s probably not the main point of the movie, but it’s hard to digest how Julie would come around to liking a zombie, one would think the love affair was in shambles from the start.

Kakita  Avatar Hey man, if I had to date an undead dude, it’d be Nicholas Hoult > Robert Pattinson. Strangely enough I could actually deal with the whole boy meets girl, boy doesn’t eat girl, girl loves boy thing; even if there was a bit of a weird necrophilia vibe in the movie. At the very least Nicolas Hoult has the common decency to not sparkle.

Direcow  Avatar And that’s the thing – at its warm, beating heart, Warm Bodies is a very charming film. It’s clever (save some really stupid parts), hilarious and there’s sparks going on between R and Julie that really gives it life. I just wish there wasn’t some weird bits that left a bad taste at the back of your throat. But here’s something to chew on: Without Hoult, Warm Bodies would just be a lifeless movie, but there’s just enough magic in here to keep you captivated and entertained – especially with some amazing sight gags and zombie zingers.

Photo: Summit Entertainment
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Kakita  Avatar *zombie fistbump* The movie has some really weird parts, but it has a lot… A LOT of heart. And that’s probably why you’d want to check this movie out. But please check all your zombie preconceptions at the door.

Direcow  Avatar Yeah – also, questions about how memory consuming works and whether the solution to all ails is a cheesy “all you need is love” doesn’t really matter in the end, sometimes it feels like you’re just picking at the joints when theres so much more to enjoy.


Kakita  Avatar Sorry guys. Our Pete-Doombot is on the fritz. We really shouldn’t have used that voucher from Dirk Anger.

Many thanks to the kind, lively folk from SG Zombie Walk for organising the Warm Bodies preview!


The technological backbone of, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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  1. As for the zombies shuffling/running. SAD but the book does explain more about it. Heck, for a different ‘feeling’ read the book. While the movie is great as a stand alone based on the book, the book is a bit different from the movie with more details and existential philosophical stuff.

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