Director Jonathan Levine on How 'Warm Bodies' is More Like 'Star Wars' Than 'Twilight'

Director Jonathan Levine on How 'Warm Bodies' is More Like 'Star Wars' Than 'Twilight'

Aug 16, 2011

Yesterday we brought you an update on the US release of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, director Jonathan Levine's debut film, which we spoke about with him during a chat for his upcoming cancer dramedy 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen. We'll bring you more of our 50/50 talk throughout the week (and you can snag your free tickets to an advanced screening of the film right here, courtesy of, but in the meantime we also spoke about Levine's next project, an adaptation of Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, which puts a bit of an odd spin on the zombie tale as it follows one zombie, "R" (Nicholas Hoult), who falls in love with a living girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) after he eats the brain of her boyfriend.

Hearing that Warm Bodies follows the romance of a zombie and a real girl immediately brings to mind the plot of Twilight, which follows the romance of a vampire and a human girl. There's even a quote from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer on the book's cover. So we asked Levine if he envisioned Warm Bodies as being the next Twilight, or if they were going for something a bit different.  

"The only thing I know about Twilight is I've seen a few of them and ... I understand why people like them, but they're not for me," he told "I understand why people like them, though, and I think elements of them are really interesting and great. That's not the movie we're trying to make here. What we're trying to make here is very different, very unique -- the tone is a little more ballsy, I think. Yes it's still a romance, but it has more elements of humor; it's got cynicism and irony and cultural commentary. It's just smart. That's what appeals to me about it."

Here's a brief synopsis from Amazon: "R is a zombie, but R is so much more. He certainly looks the part with his trademark gait and rotting flesh. Sure he loves to munch on human brains as much as the next dead guy, but something is changing inside. He just met this human girl named Julie on a hunting raid and instead of eating her, he's decided to save her life and hide her from his friends. In this post apocalyptic world where zombies prey on human survivors, this is certainly a no-no. But R can't help himself. Julie is causing him to do something he didn't know he was capable of doing: to feel. For the first time in his death R has found a reason to live."

Levine added that they're hoping to make a more sophisticated movie for young people. "Those films like Back to the Future -- Zemeckis and Spielberg kind of things -- are good examples of what we're trying to do," he told us. "There's also elements of Children of Men; stuff like Oldboy. And it's not that it's a throwback to those films of the '80s or anything like that -- I'm just using those references to say that a movie for young people can be more sophisticated in tone, and doesn't have to be super earnest. That's the thing about the Twilight movies that doesn't appeal to me -- it's that they're earnest. And as much as I understand people's appreciation of them, I've always wished that they had a Han Solo character who could be the guy who was, like, "What the f*ck is going on here?" The comic relief; the sort of audience surrogate. That, to me, is what separates the good Star Wars movies from the bad Star Wars movies. There's cynicism and irony in four, five and six, and there's not in the first three."

We'll have more with Levine throughout the week. Warm Bodies is set to hit theaters in 2012.

Categories: News, Geek, Horror
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