|R and Julie in a scene from Warm Bodies. (Courtesy Summit Entertainment)|
The last three words of the previous sentence pretty much sums up my fear, but I'll spell it out for you anyway. Dumbing things down for the masses usually doesn't end well. I've witnessed it before. (Please reference early attempts to bring superheros to the big screen. You know what movies I'm talking about.) I was afraid a post-apocalyptic zombie romance, narrated by a zombie who's desperate to feel again and befriends a human girl in an effort to do so was destined for a similar fate. I am infinitely gratefully that Summit Entertainment and everyone involved in the making of this film proved me wrong.
|Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion|
Brains offer feelings. R wants to feel. R eats brains.
He'd normally spend his days riding the conveyor belts at the derlict airport where many of the zombies live or carrying on "conversations" in grunts with his best friend M, but his interactions with Julie change all that. R actively tries to be more human around her, struggling to communicate and remember how to engage with the living.
Yes, the film is toned down a lot if compared to the book. While I'm a purest and usually like movies to hew as closely to the book as possible, I'm glad the dialed back with this one. Some of the content in the book is very adult and, on occasion, graphic. Without some editorial changes the film likely would have been rated R instead of PG-13. I still shudder every time someone references this as a young adult novel because though its main characters are young adult I wouldn't give the book to anyone who wouldn't be admitted to an R rated movie.
Plenty of nods to the book are included. Julie and R's first interaction is well-preserved. It played out nearly identically to the images the book evoked in my mind. R's records are heavily featured, but the much talked about Sintara scene from the novel is missing. I understand this though as it would probably have been somewhat difficult to recreate and potentially harder still to convey without it coming off as corny, which is not at all the case in the book.
There is one sweet moment involving M toward the end of the story that's altered and made me a bit sad, but only I know it the way I read it. Movie goers who haven't read the book will be blissfully ignorant.
Warm Bodies looks the way you'd expect a zombie movie to look, full of grays and muted colors. It didn't detract from my experience, but that may be because I expect a darker or bleaker look from films that feature mythic monsters.The only technical flaw was some less than realistic CGI where the boneys are concerned. We're not talking Catwoman bad, but it wasn't amazing.
Overall, Warm Bodies was completely satisfying as a movie. So much so that I didn't even have to erase the book from my mind during the roughly two hours I was in the theater. I'd strongly recommend it, but.... The book is still better! (You knew I had to say it. :) )