Scott enters the room, wearing only a fine silken robe, and steps across his bear skin rug to his solid oak, handcrafted German desk. He sits in his leather chair and sips upon the Brazilian cappuccino resting next to his vintage 1920’s typewriter. Then he pours a glass of brandy and sips from that as well. Followed by pouring some white wine and sipping that as well. Then he realizes that it’s only eight in the morning, so he takes another sip of cappuccino. He hears the telephone ringing, but can’t see the phone as it’s buried underneath several Charles Dickens novels and a few copies of The New Yorker. It’s probably just Harvard asking if he wants to teach that philosophy class again (rolls eyes). There’s no time, he has a film review to write! As he lowers the needle onto his Beethoven vinyl, he takes a deep breath. He aligns his fingers above the typewriter keys as he is about to make beautiful art… He is about to open eyes… He is about to change lives… He is about to criticize film.
“You don’t have to be BRAINDEAD to realize that Warm Bodies is a BITING satire on teens in love. There will be GRAVE consequences if you choose to miss out on this FLESH new comedy. Of CORPSE you could choose to watch its STIFF competition instead, but you won’t have as BLOODY a good time. Don’t DECAY, it’s to DIE for.”
3 out of 4 Skulls
(gets up from chair, leaves house, goes on a four day peppermint schnapps bender)
Warm Bodies is one of those movies that I really, really liked at times, but overall was perhaps just a little too unpolished. Or unfocused. Unfoclished. It has some pretty great ideas, but it doesn’t know how to fluidly portray what it wants.
The film is about the inevitable zombie apocalypse and the mundane life of our leading protagonist, an undead 20-something named “R”. He’s a bit of a WALL-E type zombie; collecting small items (like snow globes and bobble-heads) and bringing them back to his home inside an airplane. Some funny observations are made about what is going on inside a zombie’s head through voice over narration, and to be honest, I would probably watch a 15-20 minute short film simply just covering what a zombie is thinking about at all times. There’s plenty of material there. Anyway, he runs into a group from the human resistance, and ends up not killing the blonde girl of the group, because she sparks a flutter in his previously unbeating heart. So he leads her back to his airplane house, shows her all the knick knacks he’s collected (including a vinyl record collection which she finds “so cool” [fart noise]), and she slowly starts to realize that he’s becoming less and less dead each day that he spends with her. Also, like WALL-E, his innocent, lovable charm starts to spread to every other person he happens across, and they all start to change their ways for the better. In retrospect, Warm Bodies is WALL-E with zombies.
There are lots of one-dimensional characters to be had, especially the leading lady Julie (played by Teresa Palmer); who looks, sounds, acts, and has similar facial mannerisms as Kristen Stewart, only with blonde hair. There’s not much to her, and there’s not much reason for me to believe that she’s as stunning a beauty to actually bring a dead man back alive… but to each his own. All she really has going for her is her looks. In flashback scenes, she’s even kind of a stuck-up bitch. I suppose in the zombie apocalypse, you wouldn’t really have to develop a personality to be the cream of the crop, as there’s not much competition. Her dad (John Malkovich) isn’t much better… He’s the kind of stereotypical movie quasi-villain who has pure evidence for a solution put right in his face by someone he cares about, and then he proceeds to ignore it for sake of conflict. A shoot-first mentality is something that would make sense when surrounded by murdering corpses, but only right up until he’s shaking hands with a zombie who’s asking him how his day is going. Then it becomes kind of silly after that. “The solution to all our problems! Kill it!”
The zombies, however, are extremely likable characters. They are driven by some really great acting from Nicholas Hoult (R), and his best friend M (Rob Corddry). The whole movie kind of banks on how well these two act, and how well they slowly (and appropriately) transform back into their former selves. They even got the voices down perfectly, with a slow and painful delivery that looks like it takes every bit of energy just to say one word. They both also take advantage of the comic timing that only comes along once in a blue moon when your protagonist is a talking zombie. Just about every scene with Corddry was scene stealing. I’ve always found him funny, but who knew the guy could actually act? And who knew his acting prowess would show up in a zombie movie?
As I said earlier, the film has many moments that I really enjoyed. As much as I hate it when movie characters worship their record players, I loved scenes like R getting at least some semblance of his past life through listening to music. But that was because it was done right, by director Jonathan Levine. In fact, it’s safe to say that I loved the entire soundtrack to Warm Bodies, and the music cues were done very much to my liking. And I really liked the ending. The last 10 minutes or so made me feel emotions. It was kinda-sorta cheesy while managing to stay relatively witty. It was a good enough combo of both to make it work.
There’s no hiding that the movie is about the isolation and angst that comes with young love. Most of the film is R’s brain arguing with his newly formed, out-of-control bodily urges. “Stop staring, you’re creeping her out”, he internally tells himself constantly. But then there’s the forbidden love angle. Can human’s date zombies?!?! Not in my house! No daughter of mine is going to date some drooling cold person! It’s not a coincidence the two lovers are named R and Julie. Shakespeare represent! But then there were other times when I think the studio wished this was more like a “Twilight-esk” Hot Topic teen movie. Levine saved it from turning into that fully… but, I mean, the main character of this zombie movie is basically a male model who wears a trendy red hoodie and skinny jeans. C’mon, just look at this promotional image:
And what about the film’s unnecessary villains, the “bonies”? They’re what happens to all zombies when they’ve run out of food and begin eating their own flesh, leaving them to be black, CGI skeletons. And boy howdy, how CGI they are… It seemed like the movie was lacking an actual villain, so they just forced in a (quite literally) faceless threat that could provide action scenes, because… I guess, why not? To me, the main conflict was between the humans and their willingness to accept zombies back into their society, and I’d like to think there is a way to pull that off without a giant CGI skeleton battle as the climax.
But that’s when I come to the realization that I’m over-analyzing a PG-13 romantic zombie comedy, and that maybe I shouldn’t be overly critical about the fact that it has “spooky skeletons” as well. And then I sort of get back to the middle in my train of thought. Warm Bodies is a very entertaining movie, even if it’s far from perfect. I’m probably going to forget that I saw it in a month or two, but it’s the best movie of 2013 so far, so good for it.
7.5 out of 10