Warm Bodies (yeah seriously)
For most geeks the Twighlight series is teenage romantic fantasy series too far. So when a film is described as the 'Zombie' version of that series and stars R Patz a-like Nicholas Hoult as the lead, you can't blame most for avoiding Warm Bodies like a zombie plague. Fortunately curiosity got the better of me and on one long haul plane journey I decided to give the film a chance, after all in essence the brilliant BBC Three series 'In the Flesh' had a very real hint of forbidden love about it. Shaun of the Dead was also a Zom Rom Com, so.....
In truth getting anything new or innovative out of the zombie film genre is almost impossible these days, nazi zombies, cockneys fighting zombies, Cuban zombies, stoner zombies, there is little out there that hasn't been well chewed over already. I can't deny though that Warm Bodies breathes new life into the genre (see what I did there). The story takes the inner monologued perspective of young undead member 'R' (for R Patz?) much like zombie films Colin and Dead Heads before it. R also manages to get some of his humanity back by inheriting the memories of the brains he eats (honest, you read that correctly).
R shambles across a group of survivors on a scavenging mission, amongst them is Julie (Teresa Palmer) who upon sighting her, R experiences his first human feeling for. But in the worst chat up move possible he ends up attacking and munching on the brains of her boyfriend. Still, R ends up saving Julie from his zombie buddies and slowly their relationship as well as R's re-huminisation develops as they shelter in an abandoned airplane. Of course she forgives him for killing and eating her soon to be ex ex, because well, that's what zombies do ok, get over it! Ok so it happened to take out his main love rival, but come on.
R has to not only battle to win over Julie's still beating heart, but also has to convince his shambling friends that there might be another slightly less cannibalistic way of not living life. Helped of course by the fact all of his kind seem to be evolving. Leaving the small matter of R and Julie needing to convince the zombie killing military led by Julie's hard ass but stupidly named father Grigio (John Malkovich), to put there guns down and give the Zeds a big hug. Fortunately the humans and the zombies share a common enemy in the form of the skinless skeletal undead, called 'Bonies'. Yep the plot is sillier than a bag of cross eyed weed smoking frogs, I mean why don't the poor Bonies get a second chance, and what of the zombies that had there hearts stabbed or shot, how do those ones have their hearts restarted by love?
Anyways...... the performances and chemistry between Hoult and Palmer really carry the film. The setting is bleak and gritty enough to give some weight to the apocalypse, and despite the romantic pre-text there is a refreshing lack of sugary emotion (thankfully Twighlight this isn't). It doesn't shame me to say that I was really surprised by Warm Bodies, I truly didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I'd go as far to say this is the best zombie film I've seen since the brilliant Juan of the Dead, the bloodless over-budget War World Z has a lot to live up to!
Day to Day Armageddon Hour Glass
The third in the series of J.L. Bourne's zombie survival book series, focuses in on the remaining US military's increasingly desperate attempts to combat the undead virus. The book's central thread revolves around a mission to discover the plague's orgins in China. Also a special forces team return to Hotel 23 (a military bunker and nuclear launch facility that was central to the second book) to re-secure the location and track down the mysterious Remote 6 organisation.
The first two books were written in the form of a 'day by day' journal, giving a both jarring, desperate and insular survival account of the apocalypse as it unfolds. Shattered Hour Glass dispenses with this format, giving multiple perspectives and locations, including a submarine, arctic base and air craft carrier. Being a serving military man himself, Bourne's attention to detail and accuracy throughout each of the missions is quite incredible and really elivates this series. To some extent losing the journal format in favour of an abundance of characters and situations results in the narrative feeling quite stretched. Thankfully there is plenty of focus on the behaviour and spread of the undead, especally the radiated zombies that survived the tactical nuclear strikes.
While Shattered Hour Glass still offers plenty of adrenalin fueled twists and turns, the ending does feel a little rushed and not to mention uncharacteristically optimistic. Bourne devalues some of the suspense by trying to answer too many questions and tie up everything up in a neat bow. Regardless of the negatives J.L. Bourne is still one of the masters of the zombie survival genre and the Day by Day Armageddon triology is a must read for all zombie fans.