'Warm Bodies' is a charming zombie love story horror comedy based on the novel by Isaac Marion. It takes place a few years after a zombie apocalypse. However, our main character / POV into the universe isn't a human survivor, but rather a zombie who is mildly self aware. Though he doesn't remember his name -- he thinks it started with an "R" -- R (Nicholas Hoult) is a collector of the world gone by. He wishes he could remember his life before. Or communicate with another zombie. Or stop eating the living.
R hates feeling so alone.
Then one day R and the other zombies -- including the closest thing he has to a friend, M (Rob Corddry) -- attack a group of humans who have left their walled "green zone" and gone out looking for medicine. What we learn here is that when R eats human brains, he gets that person's memories. And after killing a young man named Perry (Dave Franco), he turns and sees Julie (Teresa Palmer) fighting off the horde, and instantly falls in love with her.
By saving Julie's life, R and Julie will form a relationship that could save mankind. Slowly, through this emotional connection, R is becoming more and more human. And if he can be rehabilitated, maybe the other zombies can as well. Which is pretty freaking great, right?
But there's a catch.
Remember Perry, the guy R ate? Well, not only is Perry Julie's (now ex) boyfriend, but but Julie's Dad (John Malkovich) is the militaristic leader of the post-apocalyptic zombie resistance. It's no surprise that such a man hate-hate-hates (!) zombies, but he also gets to play the role of overprotective father, which is completely relatable.
So these two young people might have a way to save everyone, but will their relationship survive the truth and, if it does, will anyone believe them / not immediately murder R? And if that weren't enough to deal with, there are also these really baddass zombies called Boneys -- they're essentially zombies that have lost all their humanity and have become full on monsters -- trying to kill them all.
I was extremely disappointed to miss this film's original theatrical release. Thankfully, purely by chance, I caught a double feature of 'Warm Bodies' and 'Django Unchained' up at the Kennedy School in Portland, Oregon last month. To be fair, I'd had a couple beers and missed the first two minutes, but I absolutely loved 'Warm Bodies' and couldn't wait to sign up for this Blu-ray review.
I'm not really into horror-comedies because I like my scares scary and my tension thick, and most horror comedies lean towards camp and over-the-top one-liners that eat suspense. But 'Warm Bodies' totally nails a delicate tonal balance. The comedy comes at times when you need a quick release, the set-pieces build and grip your attention, and the relationships are lovely.
All of these elements -- from the acting to the cinematography to the production design to the makeup to the visual effects to the writing -- really comes together under screenwriter/director Jonathan Levine ('50/50', 'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane') and his producers. Truly, well done all around.
My only complaint isn't really a nitpick, but an observation of a structural challenge. I love setups where the hero did something bad to the heroine's ex-boyfriend (or husband) before the two destined-lovebirds meet. It's fantastic drama, right? Can he reveal the truth? Should he? Can they survive the truth? But the challenge with this element, or story structure, is that when the truth finally comes out, usually later in the movie, there isn't always enough story time to deal with the grief and forgiveness because, by this point in the film, we're accelerating towards the third act and climax. Though 'Warm Bodies' does an admirable job, it's still a bit rushed, but perhaps it will always seem that way in anything but a novel. Heck, think of 'Romeo + Juliet' -- Romeo kills Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, and twenty seconds after Romeo tells Juliet, the ill-fated newlyweds have sex for the first time. So, if the Bard can't master it, maybe no one can. (Or, worse, it could be one of those personal things I notice in movies that no one else cares about!).
If you like zombie movies. If you like action comedy. If you like chills and chases. And yes, if you like a love story or two, I highly recommend giving 'Warm Bodies' a chance.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Summit / Lionsgate Home Entertainment present 'Warm Bodies' in a single-disc Blu-ray + Digital Copy + Ultraviolet edition. The Blu-ray is a Region A locked BD-50. Inside, there are codes for an iTunes Digital Download as well as HD UltraViolet streaming (currently unavailable). Trailers include current 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2', 'The Hunger Games', and 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'. There's also a nice DTS logo-trailer that pops up before the feature film.
With an MPEG-4 AVC encode, and presented in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 'Warm Bodies' looks terrific on Blu-ray.
Though there are a few beautifully saturated flashback and final act moments, 'Warm Bodies' sticks mainly to a subdued, almost gray, and muted color palette. Living people skin tones remain warm and life-like, while zombie faces are another shade of pale white and grey scar tissue. Resolution and detail are superb. Shot digitally, I didn't see any artifacts or compression issues. Black levels are generally strong, though not perfect in a few of the darkly lit interiors. And, the CGI looks pretty good too, save for a few "Boneys" shots here and there.
Overall, this film is a few steps shy of demo material because it doesn't have a certain pop or wow factor, but this Blu-ray perfectly captures how 'Warm Bodies' looked in cinemas. Great job.
'Warm Bodies' boasts a decent English 7.1 DTS-HS MA surround sound track.
As a dialog-driven film, 'Warm Bodies' isn't the most immersive 7.1 out there, but it gets the job done. Dialog (voice over and living character) is perfectly balanced. Various score elements and music tracks sound nice and fills the room. And, during the film's larger set pieces and on-the-run third act, panning effects and rear sound field activity pick up a little. LFE is nice as well.
Summit Home Entertainment offers up 3.5 hours of behind-the-scenes featurettes and commentaries. Though there is some overlap, the interviews are in-depth and there's a lot of onset footage too. Definitely a cut above the standard EPKs. Also, while I don't have a DVD on hand, it's my understanding that the Blu-ray and the DVD bonus materials are identical.
'Warm Bodies' is one of those movies you might have missed when it hit cinemas earlier this year. If you like zombie movies, this one's a lot of fun, with relatable characters and real scares (not to mention a hilarious role by Rob Corddry). As a Blu-ray, 'Warm Bodies' offers fans a terrific video presentation, a solid 7.1 DTS-HD MA surround sound track, 3.5 hours of Special Features (including the commentary), and Digital Copy / UltraViolet. If you're a fan, this is an easy recommend. For everyone else, do yourself a favor and give this one a try. It certainly put a few smiles on my face; more than I expected.