Over the decades, Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” tale has been adapted to many genres, and this new twist transposes the tortured love story into the realm of the undead.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans dwell in heavily-guarded urban enclaves, it’s narrated by R (Nicolas Hoult), a twentysomething zombie who shuffles aimlessly around an abandoned airport, adroitly avoiding voracious, decaying, skeletal zombies known as Boneys. One day, he and grunt-buddy M (Rob Corddry), along with fellow corpses, encounter a group of humans, including Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her boy-friend Perry (Dave Franco), who are scavenging pharmaceutical supplies. As R munches on Perry’s brain, gaining flashback access to his memories, he finds himself irresistibly attracted to Julie. Saving her from his flesh-eating cohorts, R hides her in the abandoned plane he calls home. Despite Julie’s initial mistrust, a relationship develops as he gently courts her, giving her canned food and beer while playing selections from his collection of vintage vinyl. When Julie manages to escape and return to the fortified, walled-off city where her ruthless father, General Grigio (John Malkovich), heads the zombie-hunting militia, she misses him. Smitten, R follows her, sneaking inside the wall and appearing below her balcony. Immediately, Julie and her BFF Nora (Analeigh Tipton) realize that he’s beginning to regain his humanity. And he’s not the only zombie to transform, which comes in handy when the Boneys attack.
Based on Isaac Marion’s popular young-adult novel, screenwriter/director Jonathan Levine (“50/50,” “The Wackness”) uses humor and heart to craft a charming, paranormal romantic comedy about fantastical, forbidden love, taking zombie mythology into a different direction with lyrical, mood-enhancing pop music (Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm, ”Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart”).
Catapulting to early fame in “About a Boy” and then as Beast in “X-Men: First Class,” blue-eyed Nicholas Hoult quickly becomes far more compelling than “Twilight’s” brooding vampire, Robert Pattinson.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Warm Bodies” is a strangely sentimental 7, asserting that the power of love and the human connection can conquer everything, even death.