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‘Warm Bodies’ is sweet and Valentine’s Day appropriate

Movie Review
By: Frank Miller, Special to The News Messenger
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“Warm Bodies”

Directed by Jonathan Levine                      

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer and John Malkovich

Rating: Four out of five stars

Finding optimism in recent zombie-related entertainment is an exercise in futility.

The genre permeates pop culture, from movies to video games, and most of it is fairly bleak in its outlook on humanity.

Director Jonathan Levine is no stranger to tackling tough subjects. In his previous film, “50/50,” he managed to find humor in one man’s diagnosis of cancer.

With “Warm Bodies,” Levine has managed to make a zombie movie that is sweet, funny and, dare I say, romantic.

Nicholas Hoult stars as a zombie known simply as R. He shuffles around an airport, grunts and moans, and collects artifacts to remind him of his humanity … even as he craves brains for dinner.

R lives a fairly standard zombie existence until he encounters Julie, a human from the last walled-in city, who gets his cold blood pumping.

Having eaten Julie’s boyfriend’s brains, R acquires feelings for Julie. That compels him to protect her and resist gnawing on her innards. How sweet.

The emotional connection between zombie and human causes a chain reaction of reanimation that can be felt throughout the dead, which changes the perception of zombies amongst the living.

The film is a fast and loose interpretation of “Romeo and Juliet,” complete with a balcony scene, which casts two star-crossed lovers in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

However, unlike the Shakespeare tragedy, “Warm Bodies” imagines a world where the couple can overcome their disparate backgrounds to find some semblance of peace and happiness.

Comparisons will be drawn to a certain sparkly vampire franchise but the resemblance is only superficial. This film has more charm in its decomposing pinky than “Twilight” has in its whole series.

“Warm Bodies” is a refreshing change of pace for a genre that has become all too predictable. It doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel entirely but there’s something to be said about a zombie movie that isn’t afraid to wear its dead heart on its sleeve.

 

Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.