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warm-bodies-image-nicholas-hoult-2The lead character of “Warm Bodies,” a new zom com from director Jonathan Levine, is a romantic at heart—his dead, unbeating heart.

George A. Romero would barely recognize the zombies in “Warm Bodies.” They run, they fight like UFC fighters and when they eat brains they take on the memories of their meal and that’s essentially where our story begins.

Nicholas Hoult plays R (pronounced “arrgghhgghh”), an existential zombie who wants more out of life… or death, or whatever it is you call his current state. “Why can’t I connect with people?” he wonders in the narration. “Why is my posture so bad? Of yeah, I’m dead.” There’s been a plague of some sort which has left him and most of the population hungry for brains, while the sole human survivors live behind a giant wall.

Zombies and humans alike are terrified of the Bonies—evolved zombies who’ll eat anything with a heartbeat. “So will I,” says R, “but at least I’m conflicted about it.”

On a feeding trip R encounters a team of humans on the search for supplies. One zombie attack later he has eaten the brains of Perry (Dave Franco). When he gets a glimpse of Perry’s girlfriend Julie (Teresa Palmer) he loses his appetite. Perry’s memories come flooding into R’s zombie brain and he begins to feel something he hasn’t felt for a long time—human emotions.

It’s “Walking Dead” meets “Romeo and Juliet” with a twist—it just might be that love and hope can still set hearts a flutter, even ones that haven’t beaten in a while.

“Warm Bodies” is essentially one joke—the zombie as a metaphor for awkward teenager love—but it’s a pretty good one and well performed. The movie doesn’t exactly make sense, particularly if you’re a zombie fan of either the Romero or “Walking Dead” schools, but no matter how fast and loose it plays with the established mythology of the undead it’s still a new twist on an old form.

Also, any movie with the line, “I know it’s really hard to meet guys now… in the apocalypse and everything,” is OK by me.

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