After the conclusion of the “Twilight” saga, Summit Entertainment surely was looking for another cash-cow franchise to lure young audiences back to the theaters. They may have found it in “Warm Bodies,” based on the popular Young Adult novel by Isaac Marion. “Warm Bodies” shares some similarities with “Twilight” films, including having a supernatural male character, this time a zombie who falls in love with a human female. But unlike “Twilight,” “Warm Bodies” is free of angst and melodrama, and the result is charming, sweet, funny and romantic.
Nicholas Hoult plays R, who would be a typical awkward teenage boy who’s shy around girls, except for the fact that he eats humans to survive. Zombies have taken over society, while humans are forced to live in contained areas and periodically venture into zombie territory to gather supplies. Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, is a young girl who’s part of the scouting team and is trained to ward off zombies. But when R encounters Julie on one of her missions, he’s immediately smitten, kidnaps her and brings her back to his home instead of eating her. What follows is an awkwardly sweet courtship that triggers other zombies to change. Yet, as the zombies become more human, they’re hunted by other zombies called “boneys” who are so far gone they have no remorse about hunting humans for flesh.
While the story may sound gory, it’s actually a very effective tale of sweet young love. There are references to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” but the movie doesn’t need that connection as it works just fine as a stand-alone romance. Much credit goes to director Jonathan Levine, who also effectively mixed drama and comedy in the overlooked “50/50,” for making this bizarre love story work. The humor is unexpected and laugh-out-loud hilarious, and the tender moments are believable due to the chemistry between the two leads. Hoult may not have the smoldering gaze, pasty white skin and great hair of Edward in “Twilight,” but he’s a very likable male hero. Palmer bares an uncanny resemblance to Kristen Stewart, but is a blond, more fun version of her. Combined with some likeable supporting characters and a rocking ’80s soundtrack, “Warm Bodies” offers a great time at the movies. I honestly was not expecting much out of this film, but left the theater thoroughly entertained.
“Warm Bodies,” 97 minutes, is Rated PG-13 and opens in theaters today.