This past weekend Jonathan Levine‘s highly original zombie romance/comedy Warm Bodies hit theaters and it actually took the number one spot at the box office. This is a really big breath of fresh air that is probably the result of a smart marketing campaign that aimed the film at teenagers and those that seek out each and every new Twilight film.
That’s fine and all, because at least the film is getting some exposure, but I’m here to tell you that Warm Bodies is so much more than Twilight but with zombies. I’m here to tell you that Warm Bodies should be appealing to not just females, but males too. It’s the first zombie film in a long time that actually has something to say and I want to make sure you get that message while the film’s still out on the big screen.
I’ve compiled a fairly simple list of five reasons why you should go out and see Warm Bodies while it’s still playing theatrically. If you’d like to read my in-depth thoughts on the film then please check out my review, otherwise sit back and enjoy this quick list of reasons to get you off your butt and to the local megaplex.
5. It’s Not a Twilight Romance
This one’s probably the most obvious, but Warm Bodies is NOT a Twilight romance. The trailers might try to sell you on its hip approach to a weird relationship, but there’s actually a lot more going on underneath the surface of Warm Bodies.
Director Jonathan Levine smartly exposes just how bigger the scope of the film actually is. Yeah, it’s about seeking companionship, being lonely, falling in love, but it’s mostly about being alive. I think when it’s all said and done you’ll take a look at your life and realize that it’s much better actually living it than wasting it. The way Levine builds up a comedic relationship around that central point is kind of amazing for a mainstream film that most will see and forget in an afternoon.
Actually taking a step back and reanalyzing Warm Bodies will leave you with all sorts of discussions and connections. You can take away so many things from the film. I’ve only touched up on the basic ones.
4. It Has a Positive Message
Although this might not seem like an important one I must say that it’s really one of the film’s stronger points. Too often are there depressing and gritty zombie apocalypse films that are so obsessed with beating you down and leaving you without any hope. That’s fine and all, but sometimes it’s nice to have something to look forward to.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a positive outlook on a grim situation. It makes for a film that’s slightly more enjoyable. I liked that Warm Bodies looked at the positive results in a world full of negativity. It’s an optimistic change that the cinema landscape could use a little bit more of.
Sometimes it’s okay to feel happy and positive after a movie about brain-eating zombies that have wiped out most of the planet. We need something to look forward to, right?
3. It’s Creative
Easy one right? Warm Bodies is very creative. Jonathan Levine adds in so much creative energy to the film. It’s almost distracting, but in a good way. I love that he pays homage to so many classic zombie situations, while also adding a bit of intimacy without ever cashing in on the cheap jokes. He’s not afraid to lighten up and have fun, but when the focus is on the relationship between our undead R (Nicholas Hoult) and the warm Julie (Teresa Palmer) Levine eases back on the zombie pokes and locks in on what makes two people attracted to each other.
2. It’s Really Funny
Did I mention that the film is funny? It’s really funny at times. Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer keep their interactions mostly light and entertaining, occasionally dropping some really funny dialogue, but most of the humor comes from the supporting cast and their reactions to everything. On the zombie side of things you have Rob Corddry and on the living side you have Analeigh Tipton. Both react to the odd pairing differently, with Corddry having a slight advantage, being a zombie and all.
1. Director Jonathan Levine
I have no doubts that director Jonathan Levine is to blame for the film’s lasting impression. Palmer and Hoult lead the film without a problem, but I feel strongly that without Levine’s direction Warm Bodies would have never managed to balance out as evenly as it did. Levine has always had a thing for directing coming-of-age stories or films that rely heavily on a relationship and Warm Bodies is very much in tune with the latter. So much of the film depends on believing in and feeling for R and Julie and Levine establishes that early on by introducing us to R in a humorous way, while also exposing us to Julie’s past and current situations.
Levine continues to drop in his excellent understanding of how relationships function by giving us very brief, but important lines of dialogue that further the bond between the two characters. There’s a brief line where Julie comments on R being a shrugger that feels so natural and exactly like something Julie would say and yet we’ve only been exposed to Julie for a short amount of time before this.
There’s also great use of flashbacks in the film. Levine inserts enough throughout the film without ever getting too redundant. They’re great for reflective purposes and they help form the characters without revealing too much back story. Those flashbacks, mixed with the banter between R and Julie on the airplane feels like trademark Levine character building.
I can’t stress enough how important of a film Warm Bodies is for the subgenre of zombies and for romance films as a whole. It’s a rare romance that actually has a pulse. Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult give us two characters that are actually worth investing in and director Jonathan Levine keeps the film balancing so many different things at once, without ever dropping a single beat. Warm Bodies in the hands of anyone else would not have been this enjoyable. It’s warm (shh I know), sweet, charming and almost always funny.
Warm Bodies is a progressive step forward for what really can be done when we mash-up several genres into one. You can make a good zombie film that also acts as an enduring romance, while also providing us with a greater outlook on life and the meaning of actually living it.