When adapting a book into a film, some key moments are always going to be left on the page. It’s inevitable. However, some adaptations handle this better than others. You keep in too much, you’re left with a slow, overly long film that bores. You cut too much, the film doesn’t make sense except to those who already read the book. It’s a delicate balancing act that I think Warm Bodies handled very well.
Warm Bodies the film is a surprisingly fun, cute and almost annoyingly optimistic take on how the world continues to turn after the zombie apocalypse. Don’t miss our full review of the film, for more insight. But some things from the book that I thought were vitally important to understanding their world and these characters were left out.
The main character, R, is very close to what was in the book. The main difference that struck me was his outfit and hints about his pre-zombie life were completely changed. In the book, he’s forever trapped in a suit and tie. He loves to live in the plane because he was a frequent flyer, probably because some important corporate job that made him travel a lot. While a small detail, his outfit was a key point of tension once he goes into the human fortress. Even with the makeup from the girls to look more human, the suit makes him stand out from the other survivors in drab post-apocalyptic garb.
The Bonies in the film are scary, but no where near as terrifying and intelligent as they come across in the novel. There they are literally just skeletons and seem to be guided by something far bigger than traditional zombie needs. Zombies don’t eventually become Bonies through decay, they seem to have been around since the beginning of the end and it’s unclear just how they came to be. Was it aliens? Drugs? Something even more sinister? The mystery makes them all the more frightening. Plus, they are the masterminds behind the entire greater zombie culture. Zombie culture? Yeah that’s an entire untapped plotline largely left out of the film.
In the film, we don’t spend much time in the airport before R meets Julie, but the book dwells much longer there. There’s zombie marriage, families, and even church. R meets a nice zombie girl and the Bonies decide they’d make a great couple. They lead them to their “church”, which is a configuration of airplane staircases in a circle and all the Bonies chant, signifying their union. They then “adopt” two zombie children (the two on the escalator in the film) and have a little zombie family.
Not only are there “families”, there’s even a crude school system. The Bonies trap humans in a playpen and use them as a teaching tool to show the children zombies how to hunt. The zombies aren’t just wandering aimlessly, though that is something they do for most of the day, they are a unique subculture of subhumans, with the Bonies as a higher authority to keep things in line.
While these differences don’t make the film inferior by any means, I did enjoy the world-building around the zombies in the novel. What did you think of the film? Sound off in the comments!
Warm Bodies: The Novel is available on Amazon. Warm Bodies is in theaters now.
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