BOOK VS. MOVIE
What’s the storyline?
Warm Bodies is a story set in a post-apocalyptic world, told through the eyes of R – a zombie with a desire to change. R spends most of his days shuffling around an abandoned airport with the rest of the undead, however inside of his head he thinks deeply and eloquently about his purpose in life and the world around him.
On a hunting trip to the city one day, R comes across a young girl named Julie who is part of one of the last surviving stadiums of living people on Earth. After killing and eating Julie’s boyfriend, R is given visions of Julie and human life through his victim’s old memories. After these experiences, R vows to protect Julie and takes her back to the airport with him. So begins an unconventional love story with a good guy who just happens to be part of the living dead.
What made it movie worthy?
It’s easy to see why such a brilliant concept was picked up for a movie. After the recent craze of vampire-human love stories (which then evolved on into werewolves, fairies and goodness knows what else other fantastical creatures) it was only a matter of time before zombies got their chance to shine. Of course, zombie movies have always been a very popular genre but it’s very rare to have them written in such a sympathetic light. There is something utterly charming about the character of R and his constant desire to fight his natural instincts. It’s hard to imagine a zombie could be so loveable but R has you rooting for him from the very first page of the book, so it was easy to see how this great character could be translated into film.
Casting – Was is accurate?
Casting Nicholas Hoult as R was a stroke of genius as he really manages to pull off the right amount of vulnerability partnered with great comic timing, plus he’s made to look very attractive in an unconventional zombie way. In the book he was supposed to be a little sharper-dressed and older, however he is not too off-description as to ruin the story.
Julie was pretty spot-on as the feisty blonde, if anything I think they could have picked someone with a tiny bit more oomph but that may just be my personal preference. Her father and boyfriend Perry were pretty much as I had imagined whilst reading.
The one character who I didn’t feel was quite right was R’s zombie friend M – in the book he is described as very big and fairly hefty with a bald head and blonde beard. I imagined him as a bit of a gentle giant rock and roll type of guy, whereas in the movie he is more of a cheeky Uncle type. His basic character was fairly similar, but he had some great comic moments in the book which I felt could have been played up more. He definitely played a greater role in the book and took more of a back seat for the film.
I also felt the “Boneys” (the aging skeletal zombies) were done very well in CGI and definitely captured the eerie presence they presented in the book.
Main difference between the book and movie?
The book is darker. A heck of a lot darker. In fact the entire tone of the film is miles away from Issac Marion’s writing which delves into philosophy and the very nature of the human condition. R’s existential inner-monologues explore many themes surrounding death, hopelessness and the meaning of life. In fact every chapter starts with a medical illustration of a part of the human body, urging the reader to think about the things that really make us human. There is also a whole side-story between R and Julie’s ex-boyfriend Perry who speaks to our zombie protagonist from beyond the grave (or perhaps it is all in R’s imagination). Marion’s poetic way of writing is truly thought-provoking and takes the reader on a journey beyond just a simple love story.
In contrast, whilst the film touches upon these subjects it is very much more focused on the “Hollywood love story” aspect. R falls for Julie at first sight whereas in the book he grows to care for her after learning more about her. The book also starts with a whole side-story about R having a zombie wife and zombie children which is totally ignored in the movie. As the story progressed, I felt the movie glossed over a lot of the darkness (it only touched lightly on the death of Julie’s boyfriend and his communication with R from the afterlife) – without wishing to give too much away it went down a very different direction with the end battle scenes, changing a big character death scene and tying everything up much more neatly and sweetly.
More changes in the movie
- R guesses in the book that in his human life he was probably some sort of well-paid office worker due to his nice suit. In the movie he guesses he was unemployed due to his casual clothes.
- R plays Julie a different variety of songs on a vinyl player which in the book were all Frank Sinatra. Probably due to legal reasons, the music is changed to various other songs – it’s a shame there wasn’t a small reference to Frankie as his lyrics were used poignantly in the book.
- Various timings and locations of certain situations and conversations are changed about due to pacing.
- Most of the end sequences go down a very different route, and put much more of a focus on zombies and humans working together.
Other random thoughts
- One decision I couldn’t really understand was changing the race of Julie’s friend Nora who in the book is described as having brown skin and being of Ethiopian descent. I know that most American movies will go out of their way to add a diverse cast and it’s not uncommon for white book characters to be portrayed by black actors in the film editions. So it seemed a bit bizarre that a character that was written as being black would be played by a white actress. This is no reflection on the girl who played Nora as she was good as the sweet best friend, which I suppose ultimately is all that matters. I just feel that it was a strange decision by the film-makers and a missed opportunity to promote diversity in their version of the story.
- I actually found the character of Julie much more likeable in the film than in the book. Although I really loved R, I never seemed to take to Julie in the book. She felt very pretentious and dramatic to me, whereas she was a little warmer in the film. I couldn’t really understand R’s deep love for her and I really wished she was more of a likeable leading lady. Although I will say she was a strong woman, she definitely gets kudos for that.
- It took me a while to realise the whole story is based on Romeo and Juliet, but it’s obvious when you think about it. R and Julie… get it? And M is Mercutio!
- I was totally in love with Nicholas Hoult by the end of the film, I can’t express enough how much I loved him in the role!
- Although the movie did lack some of the depth of the book, it also felt a lot more heartwarming. Which I don’t think is a bad thing.
So… Book Vs. Movie?
This is a very tough one because both the book and movie had their own merits. They both told the story in a different way and each version had something special about it.
I loved the beautiful writing of the book and all the dark subject matter it explored. I also loved the more romantic slant of the movie, and in a way I really enjoyed the happier tone. There were a lot of changes made, but in my opinion they were pretty much all changes that enhanced the story in someway rather than hurt it.
For fans of the book, you may be disappointed with the movie but I loved it in a totally different way from the original story. So with that in mind I call this one a tie.
Written by Becky – Send her a tweet here: @beckyjerams
((Disclaimer – All pictures from Google Images with credit to their original uploaders))