Film review: Warm Bodies (2013)

By Jase Brandt  Sterling, KS — Feb 13, 2018, 10:12 PM

Warm Bodies DVD Cover
DVD cover courtesy of Lionsgate Publicity.

Release Date: Feb. 1, 2013

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for zombie violence and some language

Runtime: One hour, 38 minutes

Genre: Comedy | Horror | Romance

In light of the Sterling College theater department’s preparation of Romeo and Juliet in March, I had the opportunity to watch Warm Bodies. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not much for romance or horror films. I’ve never really been interested in horror films to begin with and I typically find romantic films to be full of cheesy clichés that never happen to me in real life. I will, however, always be ready to watch a comedy. I am always ready to laugh ‘til my stomach hurts. Warm Bodies isn’t that kind of comedy, but it does have enough clever narration and dialogue to get me to sit down and watch it.

The film follows a corpse (the film’s name for a zombie) named R who yearns for more to his undead life than walking around an airport until he decays to nothing. While searching for food one day, he comes across a non-zombie girl named Julie and the two of them develop a relationship that would be frowned upon in any society. The film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and features a lot of Easter eggs from the play, such as the famous balcony scene and the naming of characters. As you may have already guessed, R is Romeo and Julie is Juliet. Other characters include Julie’s ex-boyfriend Perry as Paris, R’s zombie friend M as Mercutio, and Nora as Juliet’s nurse.

The story, though not original, is done in an interesting way. It is a new interpretation of an old story. The acting is surprisingly good for a zombie movie. With that genre, the tone of the film is mostly dark, however, it does have the “heartwarming” (You’ll have to see it to get the joke.) characteristics of a romance throughout, along with some humor. I found the music to be one of the film’s stronger points. The score isn’t any more dramatic than it needs to be, but the choice of instruments makes it unique and memorable. The soundtrack also stands out. Most of the songs played in the movie are from different characters’ music collections, including R’s vinyl collection and Nora’s iPod collection, and they range from Roy Orbison’s ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ to M83’s ‘Midnight City.’

My main area of concern regarding the film’s content has to be the violence depicted in it. It is a hard PG-13. The corpses and other zombie-like characters can sometimes be disturbing in appearance, and they also become ravenous as they attack humans and eat them. Most of their meals are offscreen, but there was enough onscreen blood and brains to make me question its rating. The language is somewhat tame, except for a single use of the f-word by a corpse. The sexual content in the film is also somewhat tame. It is a romance with some flirting and kissing, but the furthest any character goes is a female character taking off her soaking wet shirt from behind before she lays down in bed to keep warm and dry. I do not recommend this film for younger viewers.

Of the three genres Warm Bodies is attributed to, it doesn’t quite fit into any one of them perfectly. Instead, it does its own thing and it works. If you’re expecting a romance, you’ll find a thriller. If you’re expecting a horror, you won’t get very scared. If you’re expecting a comedy, you’ll most likely be bored. It blends each genre in a way that it is balanced and refreshing and can appeal to multiple audiences. I had mixed feelings sitting down to watch it, but I ended up enjoying it and would be up for possibly watching it again in the future.

If you’re a young adult looking for a movie that will interest both you and your significant other, I’d say Warm Bodies would interest both, and just in time for Valentine’s Day. Also, don’t forget that the Sterling College theater department is hard at work preparing for their performance of the original Romeo and Juliet March 1-3. Be sure to come out and give them your support!

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