From Book To Movie: Warm Bodies (2013)
As regular blog readers will know, I enjoy watching and discussing movies based on books and thought it would be a good idea to have an occasional feature where I talk about adaptations currently in the theaters or recently released on DVD.
Title: Warm Bodies
Adapted From: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Blurb: After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.
Book overview: I read this book in preparation for the movie and to get a sense of how things were altered in order to adapt it. Overall I enjoyed this book though it wasn’t one of my favorite reads this year. I thought that it had a really clever idea and was at times very funny. I love how the entire book is told from the point of view of the zombie rather than the living person, Jules. The beginning was very fun and exciting, but it lagged quite a bit in the middle. The prose style was at times a bit overbearing for me and I felt that a lot of sentiments were repeated too often.
Though I loved R as a character, I found Jules to be an irritating character and the constant adoration she gets from everyone in the story annoyed me as I felt she was self-centered and often didn’t deserve the positive attention. I was also curious to see how the film would handle the unusual narrative structure of the novel with a lot of the story communicated through dream sequences and internal dialogues.
Things that were changed:
- The main plot points for the most part were kept the same but several things were cut to save on time. At the beginning of the story we see a lot of the zombie culture which includes marriage ceremonies, adoptions and even religious gatherings. Very little of those customs make it to the screen though the film does retain the idea that zombies are trying to cling onto what they had been as humans.
- In fact in the novel R gets ‘married’ to another zombie and they ‘adopt’ two kids in the first sequences of the book, this is taken completely out of the plot line. R’s children feature in the film but are not identified as such, mainly being seen watching R and Julie from a distance.
- Some scenes with Julie and her boyfriend are added before the zombie attack takes place and some sequences are altered to establish a faster pace.
- The way in which R enters Julie’s camp is altered and the sequence in which he bites one of the guards in self-defense is taken out.
- There is an added sequence in which Julie confronts her father to tell her about R, rather than him figuring out what he is after the guard turns.
- The ending is altered with an extended fight sequence that takes place on a much larger scale and the consequences of this story for the other zombies and the human survivors is more clearly spelled out.
Things that were kept the same:
- Nothing major was changed, most of the major sequences were kept, though they are reordered to make the story tighter and to speed up the pacing.
- The relationship arc between R and Julie is essentially the same with the story’s emphasis being on their interactions rather than on zombie mayhem.
Things I liked:
- The casting for this was brilliant, the two leads are excellent. Nicholas Hoult is fantastic with R saying so much with his body language and facial expressions, yet remaining entirely zombie like.
- The actress who plays Julie was really charismatic and fun. Though I really didn’t like Julie in the book, I loved her in the film. She manages to be both tough and vulnerable, she is extremely likable.
- Nora was fantastic and funny – she was one of my favorite characters in the book and the film brings her to life perfectly.
- Marcus is much more likable in the film than in the book, he is much more intellectual and less brutish than he is in the novel.
- The soundtrack was AMAZING! Music is a big part of the book but most of it is just 60′s/70′s music whereas in the film it is much more 80′s which suited me much more.
- The film does a great job of presenting the themes from the book, particularly the idea that in their desire to survive the humans have lost some of their own humanity.
I love the moment when Marcus is looking at the photograph of a couple holding hands, he flashes back to Julie and R which in turn makes him remember his own family. It was an added moment but I think it made a lot of sense in terms of explaining why the zombies would start to change.
Things I disliked:
- Initially the pacing of the film feels really quite slow. When R begins to be able to speak, the pace picks up and I found myself much more interested in the story.
A lot of people I know have a different view than me of adaptations, they want an adaptation to include every moment they loved on page and unto the screen. This adaptation of Warm Bodies definitely doesn’t do that and I think it is to its benefit. The movie really emphasizes the themes of the novel which is about a lethargic world where humans have lost touch with their humanity and how, through falling in love with Julie, R begins to rediscover what it means to be alive.
The book and film have a very different take on what a zombie is than the classic portrayal found in most other books and films, viewing it less as a physical disease but rather of a loss of human feelings. Those looking for lots of zombie mayhem will, no doubt, be disappointed and I know some will struggle with the idea that a zombie could come back to life as a result of remembering what it feels like to love. Still, if you want a soft, character-driven story set against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse then I think you will enjoy this film as much as I did.
Check out Angela’s Anxious Life for her review of Warm Bodies!
Also check out Nerdy Book Review’s thoughts on the film!