Thursday, May 30, 2013

Warm Bodies

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Um...brains?

Warm Bodies – 3 out of 5

It’s hard to come up with a true, unique and genre-bending zombie movie that isn’t just humans trying to shoot some zombies in the head and not have their brains munched on. Sometimes they go the comedy route (like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland) and they work but, still, are your typical zombie movie. Does Warm Bodies blow the doors off the zombie film genre and do something truly original?

Relax zombie, I will answer that question later in this review...possibly towards the end--
but don't skip to the end to find out.  Read the entire thing, zombie.

Based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion and loosely based on Romeo and Juliet (you know, that movie with Leo), Warm Bodies tells the story of a strange zombie (later referred to as R and played by Nicholas Hoult) who feels like he doesn’t belong with the rest of the shuffling horde. R, explained in his internal monologue, seems to be trying to find the humanity he lost as he spends his nights in a furnished airplane and tries to hold conversations with his zombie buddy M (Rob Corddry). One day when the human population sends out some younglings to look for supplies, R ends up mauling and eating a man named Perry (Dave Franco—James’ very untalented younger brother) and his decaying eyes come across Julie (Teresa Palmer) and his heart starts to beat again and he falls in love. R quickly saves Julie (get it now? R and Julie? Romeo and Juliet.) and protects her from the rest of his walking dead compatriots. Through the use of, for lack of a better word, music video sequences, R and Juliet start to warm up to each other and their connection wakes up something in R and it has a ripple effect throughout the zombies as their hearts start to beat again and they begin to search for their lost lives. This new phenomenon means that humans and the zombies can now live in peace but it means danger to the zombies as the humans will prove to be reluctant to trust them and the farther gone zombies—the ones who are so deteriorated and decomposed that they are basically just walking, feral bag of bones (nicknamed Bonies) that feed on anything with a heartbeat now have a hunger for both humans and zombies like R and M.

" humans wanna get a pizza or something?"

For the most part, I enjoyed Warm Bodies and found it to be a slightly humorous, sweet, endearing and cute (did I really just call this movie cute?) zombie romantic comedy (a zom rom com, if you will). The film is never really flat out funny and really only elicited me saying, “That’s amusing,” rather than actually laughing at all. Not to mention that the evolution of the zombies and seeing them rediscover what they lost when they turned was surprisingly emotional and touching to see. However, the film has a few problems that kept the movie from being something beyond a zombie comedy and keeps it at being just a middle-of-the-road, okay film for me.

She's not recoiling because he's a zombie...but because he didn't wash his
hands after using the bathroom...5 years ago right before he turned into a zombie.

Imagine if a zombie stumbled into that door in
Being John Malkovich.
First off, Nicholas Hoult is great as R—especially when you consider how difficult it must be to play a zombie that doesn’t want to be a zombie and is conscious enough to realize it and he is backed up with a tremendous performance from Rob Corddry—I enjoyed Corddry’s performance so much that I wanted to see more of him and have his character have an even larger presence in the story. The film even rounds out its cast with the veteran John Malkovich who, despite not being in the film very much, does a decent job. The real downside to the cast comes in the fact you have to deal with James Franco's typecast brother playing the same role he plays in everything he’s in (you know, the snarky and sarcastic douche bag but, thankfully, he isn't in the film very long) and Teresa Palmer just wasn’t that spectacular in her role. 

" got something on your shirt...leftover flesh...wait, is that a piece
of asshole?  I thought you were on a diet."

Palmer isn’t flat out terrible but she’s just a generic blond-haired, blue-eyed white girl who does little to stand out in this film and probably could have been played by a thousand different ladies in the realm of the acting game and the character could have had even the smallest improvement. A majority of her scenes, she just looks like she was guided in by the director and was instructed to read the lines from the script and not much beyond that. At no point did I really see her try to stand out or even give credence to why R would have fallen in love with her and spare her from his natural instinct to consume human flesh.  Even when the credits hit, I didn't fully understand the exact nature of R's attraction to Julie since the woman didn't really to seem to have much going on for her.  I found myself saying, "Her?"

This is probably the most emotion you get from her the entire movie.

Secondly, there are some really poor special effects going on. I speak solely of the Bonies. While they look cool, the instant they move all illusion of coolitude is lost since they flow about as well as early 90s computer animation. Things become even more unbearable to witness when they attack and fight their more intact zombie brethren. It just looks sloppy as it’s rare when the movement of the zombie actors match the Bonies (damn, my fingers keep trying to type “Bronies” for some mysterious and possibly frightening reason). There’s even a scene where I clearly could see a zombie extra struggling with a Bonie but there wasn't a Bonie rendered near him—so he was basically wrestling the invisible man...or invisible Bonie.

Hmm, the Bonies look like a girl I once dated.

There are some romcom rules that even zombies
can't eradicate.
Finally, the one thing that hurt the film most for me was the way a majority of the film’s narrative is expressed through long sequences that are, pretty much, music videos for really shitty hipster rock bands. I understand that R has difficulty communicating with Julie and you can’t have all of R’s emotions and thoughts expressed through his internal monologue but just playing some generic pop rock acoustic song while watching R and Julie do something ended up making the film look cheap to me. As these sequences pile up (and we are even treated to a make-over musical montage because, even with zombies, you can’t escape the most basic of romcom clich├ęs), it starts to make the film feel low on the creative scale as it looked like the director said, “Just slap another bad Top 40 rock song over this scene so we understand how R is feeling…I’m trying to create a Warm Bodies drinking game here, people.” I realize this seems like an annoyingly specific complaint but the overuse of the film’s soundtrack to create emotional cues not only became way too repetitive but ended up really showing how little emotion and skill Teresa Palmer had going into this film and how underutilized Nicholas Hoult was being used with his tremendous performance.

Seriously, just look at him staring...he's staring the fuck out of his performance.

Warm Bodies isn't a genre-defying, mind-blowing zombie movie but it’s a lot more than “just slap some zombies in it so the idiots will throw their money at us” like say…oh, I don’t know…Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (yeah, I know a lot of people liked it but that shit felt phoned in to me). It wasn’t as funny as I hoped it would be but it was definitely more heart-warming and endearing that I anticipated. There’s no doubt about it that this film has its problems (and those problems stop it from being the genre-exploding film it could be) but these issues don’t completely obliterate the film. While these issues may be annoying, Warm Bodies is still a pretty decent, unique zombie movie that has some heart and is capable of pulling the plug on the tear ducts and letting the salty river of liquid flow.

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