Sunday, February 24, 2013

Warm Bodies: Hot Book, Cold Movie

Movie adaptation covers make me stabby.
 The husband and I saw the movie adaptation of Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion over the weekend. I had read the book and he had not. We both walked away from the movie unimpressed and feeling a little bit cheated. My husband has been listening to me rave about the book for the last month and I am still very pleasantly surprised by how clever, wry, and insightful the book is. I'm honestly completely exhausted by zombies showing up all in my literature and television... Zombies are overdone. If an outbreak actually happened, I would just let them eat me for no other reason than to save myself from a world where I had to think zombies 24 hours a day.

Zombies all up in my junk all the time also make me stabby.
I knew I would have to read Warm Bodies eventually. First, I'm doing a page to screen program at my library in a couple of weeks. Second, a lot of my work at the library focuses on young adult literature. While I know that Marion doesn't consider Warm Bodies a YA novel, and the book is not technically marketed as one, it has a lot of crossover potential that I have seen realized with the teen demographic constantly checking this book out.

 So, I ordered Warm Bodies on my nook, read the heck out of it, and am still glowing over the complete satisfaction I got from reading it. Warm Bodies is a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. R (a zombie) falls in love with Julie (not a zombie) after eating her boyfriend's brain. He begins a reverse zombification process and after several hi jinx, the two set off to let the world know that zombies are changing. The incredible charm of Warm Bodies comes from R's inner narrative. He's witty and fun, smart and sentimental, caring and conscientious, but can't articulate any of it because he's, uh, dead. Readers can take this at face value, or apply it to the idea that we're all zombies on the inside, looking for a way to stand out and make a difference. Whether you choose the pleasure or academic route for reading Warm Bodies is up to you. Marion makes either path worth the journey.

The red path is obviously soaked in the blood of zombie victims.
The movie however, fell flat. After reading the book, I was antsy for the movie. I watched the first four minutes or so on and was really pleasantly surprised by how well adapted those four minutes were. R's narrative is so internal. It's easy to convey thoughts in a book, but I was wondering how a movie would do the same. Well... it just didn't. R's voice overs dropped off after the first half hour or so. The book has a lot of interaction between R and a dream version of Julie's boyfriend, Perry, where actually see R changing. These exchanges allow for us to learn more about R and Julie, and Perry - a pretty significant character. But Perry is all but erased from the movie and we don't learn much of anything about R's transformation except that it happens. The movie was obviously tailored for the Twilight demographic. Teresa Palmer, who is adorable in her own right, even looks like a blonde Kristin Stewart.

Dammit, this is why we can't have nice things.
I usually like a book better than a movie adaptation, but this one let me down since the beginning was so promising. I'll continue to talk up Marion's book because it really is wonderful. As for the movie, wait for Netflix.

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