Warm Bodies (2013)




Those of you who regularly read the drivel I post on this site, first, thank you, second, I'm sure you are aware that I recently spent two weeks traveling around south east Asia on a vacation/exploring tour. This trip included two very long (16 hour) plane rides between JFK here in NY and Hong Kong. During that time, not only was I was able to read Stephen King's epic "Under the Dome" in anticipation of the mini-series coming in June on CBS, but I was also had the chance to take in  a few films, thanks to the good folks at Cathay Pacific. A couple of days ago I posted a review of Hitchcock, which you can review here. I also watched The Hobbit (for the sixth time), This Is 40 (which sucked) and the subject of this review Warm Bodies.

Controversial as soon as it was announced, Warm Bodies was written and directed by Jonathan Levine (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) and produced by Summit Entertainment. And therein lies the the root of many peoples consternation as the Summit are the same folks who unleashed the scourge that is the Twilight franchise on the world. From the time the first trailer hit hard core zombie loving horror fans decried the film as an act of heresy akin to pouting, shiny, vampires. One that should be driven to the depths of hell, never to be seen again. Are they right?

Nicholas Hoult is R a member of a group of undead that to hang out at the airport and in very Dawn Of The Dead style, subconsciously engage in many of the same routine behaviors they did while still alive. R, via voice over, takes us through his mundane existence since the world went to shit. He has a best friend, M (Rob Courddry) whom he meets for "breakfast" every morning. He has a really cool plane (all to himself) with a great vinyl collection and working record player! But life (death?) is not all wine and roses. A subculture exists within the undead. The creatures lurking on the outside of the corpse community, called "boneys," and have given up all hope, surviving only to kill. Outside the airport R's kind are hunted by humans who have legitimate beef with the fact that corpses, well, eat them.

One morning at the breakfast counter, R and M decide they are hungry. Along with a larger pack of their friends, they leave the airport hunting for food. They run across a group of well armed civilians out scouting for medicine. Conflict ensues and R falls head over heels for Julie (Kristen Stewart look alike Theresa Palmer), but not until he eats her ex-boyfriends brains and gains some of his memories. R decdes that rather than eat Julie he is going to save her. He sneaks her back to the airport and up to his bachelor plane where he holds her not quite captive.

As they spend more time together R begins to regain some of his more human qualities. Julie eventually tries to escape. She is cornered by M and the rest of  the airport crew. R steps in  and saves her. In doing so, this very human act awakens something inside the rest of the corpses inheriting the airport, well the act and a picture of two people holding hands. Unfortunately for M and the rest of the crew their humanizing makes them a target of the boneys. Julie makes her way back to the pseudo military camp she lives in that happens to be run by her nut job father (John Malkovich). R is sad. M pledges to help him, but first war with the boneys.

R and Julie are reunited. She introduces him to her father and that goes just about as well as you'd expect. Her father changes his tune after teh corpses are witnessed fighting the boney and R starts to bleed. Boneys are eliminated adn the corpses start evolving back into humans. The end.

Reading those paragraphs it doesn't sound like too bad of a film and there are some clever lines and even classic Guns N' Roses. But in truth, Warm Bodies a bad film. It's not scary. It's barely funny. It's not romantic. It's almost clever. It's certainly not smart. It's just there and 10 minutes after it's over you forget it even exists - disposable diapers. Levines script takes a lot of liberties with the zombie sub-genre. But that's not really an issue. The addition of the boneys and brain eating equaling memory gain are both acceptable, even intriguing additions to the zombie mythos. It's the rest of the film that just insults the shit out of the movie going public that is absolutely infuriating. Julie may be the dumbest film character I've seen in quite a long while. Potentially interesting conflict points are brushed aside to get to another mind numbingly boring voice over by R. John Malkovich is dare I say, (yes, I think I do) criminally under used. That's just the tip of the iceberg of the problems with the film.

Warm Bodies isn't an affront to zombie films. It's not going to set the sub-genre back 20 years. It's not the Twilight of the undead. It's simply just a bad film. A bad film, made worse by the fact that it comes so close to being something watchable, but makes all the wrong decisions at all the wrong times.

If you are a zombie purist, no this film doesn't signal the beginning of the end for your beloved sub-genre. Ditto for all you hard core horror fans. It's just a movie. Albeit a bad one, but still just a movie.

* and 1/2 out of *****

Thanks for reading! "Enjoy every sandwich."

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed it. It certainly was different from any Zombie movie that is out there.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I can certainly understand why people would like it. You are right it is different. I just don't think it did those "different" things very well. Thanks for reading!

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