Warming the Bodies

Warm Bodies - Nicholas HoultThroughout my childhood, as I absorbed and fell in love with writing, I was told that there are only 10 stories in this world.  A few years later, I learned that ‘the art of originality is hiding your source’.  So it’s ok to take a well known concept, as long as you make it your own.

On Saturday we watched Warm Bodies, which is based on the novel by Isaac Marion.  R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie who lives in an airport with a lot of other zombies.  Actually, he lives in an old airplane, where he keeps his collection of nicnaks and vinyl records.  Then, while on a hunting trip, he meets a girl, Julie.  He rescues her and takes her home.  Her father (John Malkovitch) is the leader of the humans, running military patrols and hunts.  Of course, she must go home but not before changing something in R and the other zombies, and not before the Boneys (those scary zombies that have gone too far) find her.

I love the concept.  This is a romanic comedy about the apocalypse, but it’s different in that the apocalypse has happened.  This is about the end of the apocalypse, this is about bringing the human species back to life.
In a time when dystopias dominate mainstream science fiction, it’s quite refreshing to watch something which centres around hope.

Warm Bodies 2

And this is a comedy!  Who would have thought a zombie comedy which centres around the zombies instead of the survivors (like Shaun of the Dead) could actually be pulled off.  The comedy not only comes from Hoult’s wonderful portrayal of the animated corpse of a young man falling in love, but from his private inner monologue.

The script is clever, and the characterisation can’t be faulted.  You really care about these zombies and that is special.  This is the first time I’ve ever really cared about the zombie characters, its the first time we’ve really ever gotten to know a zombie.  Unfortunately the writing doesn’t allow Malachovitch to shine, but that’s ok.  Hoult is the real star.

I admit I was slow during this film.  I was swept along with the story, admiring the characterisation of R.  It wasn’t until the balcony scene that I realised that this is the story of Romeo and Juliet.  I laughed at the water scene, seemingly taken straight from Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.  And then, when Julie asked R if he could remember his name yet, my beloved turned to me and said ‘yeah, Romeo.’
Cue the sound of shattered glass.  That was it.  It was ruined for me.  Warm Bodies doesn’t just have the themes of Romeo and Julie, it IS Romeo and Juliet.  I can’t lie, I was disappointed.

Warm Bodies kissW romeo and juliet kiss

THAT water kiss in both films (top, Warm Bodies, bottom, Romeo and Juilet)

Take away the balcony scene, the water scene, change her name (I like that he’s called R), and this is a heart warming (no pun intended), wonderful science fiction almost-utopia film.  It’s refreshing, clever, funny and a good watch, but the constant, blatent references to Romeo and Juilet ruined it for me.

Warm Bodies is a love story.  Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate love story, so it would make sense that the film would follow the same themes.  Still, the writers (or Marion – I haven’t read the book) could have hidden the inspiration.
This film is good, although it didn’t knock my socks off.  It’s well worth a watch, for the message of hope and that all we need is love (something that is very important right now), for Hoult’s performance and for the warm humour.

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One response to “Warming the Bodies

  1. Pingback: Can You Steal Your Own Ideas? | J E Nice·

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