In a post Harry Potter world, in a post Twilight universe, there’s no denying the power the Young Adult (YA) novel has had on modern moviemaking. They command huge box office and attract a frenzied fan base that has seen studios rushing any semi-decent selling YA series into pre-production. The potential for a safe franchise has led them to rival comic book movies in recent years as the go-to tent pole film. In a five part series we take a look at several YA properties heading for the big screen and consider their prospects. This is Adaptation Fixation – Warm Bodies. Warm Bodies

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WTF is it?

A zombie romance. In a nutshell (“Help, I’m in a nutshell! How did I get into this bloody big nutshell!) that’s what Warm Bodies is. And yet, it’s so much more. A moving, poignant story about what it is to be human, the novel has found critical acclaim and commercial success which means a movie adaptation was inevitable. Self-made success story Isaac Marion brings a unique voice to a popular genre with Warm Bodies (he also brings a unique voice to the internet with amusing shenanigans on Twitter at @isaacinspace).

Although technically not a YA novel, publishers and book sellers have tossed Warm Bodies in this category because the main human lead is in her late teens (the zombie lead anywhere from late teens to mid-twenties).

The tale

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Set some years after the zombie Apocalypse, our protagonist – or antagonist if you will – is R the zombie. He thinks his name started with R, but he can’t quite remember. He dawdles through his existence aware that there is something wrong him; he is not as dead as the other walking dead. Enter a group of human survivors in the form of Julie and her boyfriend Perry, who R consequently eats. But when it comes time to chow down on Julie something . . . happens. He manages to resist and actively think in a way that saves her life.

Taking shelter with R in the zombie compound, Julie and her rescuer begin to learn from each and it’s not long before she realises R is not only different, but he’s changing. As the impact of their growing feelings for each other begins to effect those around them, R and Julie are forced to face off against the sinister forces that led to humanity’s downfall in the first place.

The players

Jonathan Levine yo! Excuse the language, but The Wackness has a lasting affect on all those who’ve seen it. Unlike our previous entry in Adaptation Fixation YA Edition - VampireAcademy: Blood Sisters – Warm Bodies is less ‘in-development’ and more ‘in-cinemas’. Well, almost. In yet another bullshit release date delay, it will hit Australian cinemas in April. Director Jonathan Levine was the man in charge of steering Marion’s vision and the writer/director – who impressed with 50/50 last year – is both a competent and quirky voice. His past credits have proven he can balance comedy within heavy subject matter and it will be intriguing to see what he can do with a bit of moolah behind him.

The cast

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Nicholas Hoult is R – the zombie with a conscience. This is a choice bit of casting as Hoult has been increasingly gaining mainstream appeal with X-Men: First Class, Jack The Giant Slayer and his dateage of Jennifer Lawrence. It’s his more dramatic work in A Single Man and even Skins that should see him bring an externally lifeless character to, um, life.

Teresa Palmer is Julie, the romantic love interest for R. Palmer has been flirting on the outskirts of mainstream recognition for years now (since her powerful debut in 2:37) and Warm Bodies should see her crack it given it’s success at the US box-office. No doubt elements of Julie’s back story will be glossed over in the film (she prostituted herself in her early teens), but Palmer is competent enough that she’ll still be able to make the character more than just eye candy.

Analeigh Tipton frankly needs to be on more screens. Like, all of them all of the time. Not only does her face possess an extraterrestrial quality that’s strangely alluring, she’s engaging as hell. Peculiar, awkward and in possession of pitch perfect comedic timing, Crazy Stupid Love was the start of big things for the former America’s Next Top Model contestant. Here she plays the token best friend to the female lead, but dang it if Tipton doesn’t make this role 10 times more interesting than it should be. She already steals the trailer.

Dave Franco as Perry – ja feel? Ja feel, ja definitely feel.

John Malkovich as General Grigio, Julie’s dad and leader of the human resistance *drops mic*.

Why it could work

It’s all in the translation. ‘Zombie with a conscience’ is an easy selling point, but Marion’s novel is so well written it almost transcends into literary status. While World War Z is an interesting genre read, Warm Bodies has some truly profound moments and insights. For instance, two of my favourite quotes from the book read: “I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I'm drowning in ellipses.” AND “We're fumbling in the dark, but at least we're in motion.” The team onboard is great and if they can competently bring the many levels of this story to the silver screen then there’s no reason why this can’t be Shaun Of The Dead-level good.

Why it could fail

There are comedic spots, sure, but the film’s only Achilles’ heel could be focussing too heavily on the laughs and missing the deeper meanings *adjusts fedora*.

What we hope they include

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An explanation into just why the zombies eat brains. In Marion’s mythology the zombies crave brains because it makes them feel alive again, albeit momentarily. With each bite of brain they’re infected with memories and feelings and sensations of their victim’s life. Eventually that fades away to the grey nothingness of their walking dead status. And so the hunt continues for cranium. In zombie/horror lore not once have I seen the brain hunger explained or theorised. It’s always been “Brains! Because!” This clever and lasting addition to the mythology is one of the many things that sets Warm Bodies apart from the shambling horde of other zombie flicks.

Prospects?

The force is strong with this one. Early buzz already has this sitting at a juicy 78% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and the trailer is very, very good. Watch it here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3ErWNBX9Rc

Maria Lewis - follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz

Release date: April 11, 2013