A zombie tale with heart
‘Warm Bodies’ was marketed as the ‘Twilight’ for zombies, and being such a lover of the paranormal, YA and film with supernatural themes, it was the movie that first got me hooked on this story.
Such a unique little love story. I liked how the symbolism eluded to (more strongly in the book) that they weren’t actually zombies (in the traditional sense). Merely a symptom of something bigger that was wrong with society. (We all know how zombies were meant to symbolize consumerism in the first place).
One big difference between the film adaptation and the novel that lost some of the interpretation in the film, was the quasi-civilization/ society of the zombies in the novel, and the Boneys weren’t so comical and less of a threat. The older generations in this book, (i.e. Julie’s Dad and the Boneys) stand for something about the old world… and alternatively our protagonist, R, and his love interest Julie stand for something new.
The people, much like the earth, is dead or in a state of decay (hence the zombies) – it is hope that changes things… as illustrated by Julie’s Mum, Peter, and Julie’s Dad to an extent.
I did think towards the end the characters jumped around all over the place a bit too much when reading the novel – it was difficult to picture the landscape because lengthy descriptions would’ve ruined the pace. In that respect the simplicity of the film was much easier to follow. Like the set of the stadium: where in the film it was the backdrop for the culminating battle and Julie’s secret place; and in the book it was the fortress that kept the humans alive containing all their shanty houses.
Dark irony and comedy was kept from book to film, which I’m greatful for Isaac Marion has a brilliant sense of humour. Also, I would normally be against superfluous profanity but in the novel Julie’s swearing added some humanity to the bleak monochromatic landscape. I was kinda glad her potty mouth didn’t make it to the screen, I doubt it would have made the same impact. Plus, you know, ratings and classifications…
I really appreciated the build in the relationship between R and Julie – some reviews (and the film to an extent) give the impression of instalove, but in actual fact, if you pay attention in the book, they grow from friendship, to trust, to fondness, to love and hope. Peter (Julie’s unfortunate ex’s) brain is merely a catalyst of what is already inside of R, and the dreams/flashbacks are the conduit for R to work it all out and come to terms with his actions and what is happening to him/the world.
R, played by Nicholas Hoult in the film adaptation did a commendable job. The right amount of stoicism and humour. In the novel he gets married and adopts two zombie children, again there is important symbolism here, but this mini arc was completely omitted from the film.
I also noted that the film failed to show how R slipped up a number of times in his attempt to ween off eating brains.
R’s change was more gradual in the novel, like his growing affection for Julie. Comparatively the majority his transformation was in a single scene during the movie, a knock on R’s head somehow the catalyst. In the novel, R was also a bit more damaged, a stab wound to the forehead, but the film opted for a more cosmetic treatment – a bullet would in R’s shoulder is what bleeds after the “change.” (Pfft – there’s a change of life joke there somewhere)
Julie, (Teresa Palmer in the film) goes through some changes in the novel that did not make it to the big screen. Like when eyes change colour after a kiss, resulting in Julie getting infected, but fought it off (and I’m guessing was forever changed?) It certainly adds another layer to the novel.
A notable performance in the film for me was M, played by Rob Corddry. He’s not an actor that I particularly like in some movies, but he was spot on in “Warm Bodies.”
One massive disappointment was that the Boneys came off as camp in the movie. Showing them as always malicious, where they were old zombies stuck in their ways in the book, leaders in the zombie community.
A little gripe I had with the story as a whole, was the amount of daydreams and flashbacks – although they each dropped a small nugget of wisdom, they were getting a little tired in the plot. Surely there was another method to impart the need to know bits that still captured our interest?
The movie remained true to the tone of the novel and I enjoyed the comedic moments better. It also had better pacing, though losing some of the importance and layers of the book, coming off a bit cheesy – though that still worked for the tone of the film.
But I have to say I liked the novel better – it skims a fine line between philosophy, the soul, and the meaning of life.
Now this is where the film and book hugely digress: the final battle! Zombies did not come to the aid of R and Julie as in the movie – it was R and Julie’s union that released some sort of energy wave that dispersed the Boneys… the zombies were all in hiding. Somewhat corny, but fit the theme of the book. I definitely loved the action scenes in the film though.
The novel also depicts Julie’s Dad being killed by a Boney, failing to have a change of heart – depicting the old way of things dying (as the Boneys themselves do).
In the movie it is love and human connection that heals, where in the book it feels more like the will to live and hope (love is by and by something to live for). Both saccharine sweet and like a nice warm hug. Both a satisfactory conclusion.
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