Monday, July 1, 2013

DVD Review: Warm Bodies


Warm Bodies is a good natured, well made, often amusing and regularly endearing romantic comedy built up around the zombie fad (which at this point, is getting past it’s expiration date) and which, if I’m being honest…genuinely surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. It’s not a great movie (Shaun of the Dead doesn’t have to worry about being dethroned as the definitive zombie parody) and I doubt it’ll still be on my top 10 come year’s end, but it’s enjoyable enough for me to give it my recommendation.

The plot is concerned with a zombie named only R, who is feeling alienated and alone because, you know, he’s a zombie. Incidentally, the rules of the zombies in this movie work like this: The slow zombies still look human and retain some semblance of their human memories and minds, but will eventually turn into the more skeletal fast zombies which are all animal instincts. Anyway, while attacking a human, R eats the guy’s brains and winds up absorbing memories of him and his girlfriend Julie (R and Julie…haha) and falling hard for her, which somehow starts his heart beating again and begins to reverse the zombification.

Okay so yes, the mechanics of the zombification work a lot better as metaphor than they do as science or even pseudo-science but it’s a zombie movie, I can roll with it. And while the entire thing threatens to devolve into being just too adorable, it manages to walk that line very carefully. Okay so it kinda starts to push into that territory towards the end, but it works, because it sticks to it’s guns the entire way through and the total commitment to the theme and tone makes it work.

For that matter, while there is a lot of fun to be found at making fun of zombie clichés, most of that stuff is relegated to first act. No, what takes up the majority of the film is an extended Beauty and the Beast riff, with its eyes on parodying Twilight. And while it gets it’s punches in on Twilight (a series that is absurdly ripe for parody) it takes it’s story and characters seriously, which really helped me get involved in the movie.

Aside from that, there’s not just a lot to talk about. The actors are all pretty solid, though I would like to know where they found Teresa Palmer, because her face throughout the entire movie looks like a more expressive version of Kirsten Stewarts in the Twilight movie. And while an internal monologue is hard to pull off, since it’s typically distracting, here it works, probably because it’s used to cover the fact that R. can’t speak throughout most of the movie. Nicholas Holt is a good lead in this and Rob Corddry shines in a minor role. And hey, while I hate to bitch at another movie with this one, but is it weird to anyone else that the romantic comedy zombie movie is gorier than World War Z?

It has a few issues, nothing deal breaking. The script, while mostly clever, is a little too formulaic for my tastes and while I like John Malkovich a lot, his character (for the record, Julie’s military and zombie hating father) feels a little perfunctory, mostly needed to be the ‘human antagonist,’ and he doesn’t really get enough screentime to move past it.

The zombie craze is beginning to feel a little worn out and I’m starting to hope it dies down a bit, just so we can miss zombies again. But, if they can make a few more original movies like this one, maybe there’s life (ha) in the zombie craze yet. If nothing else, it’s officially given us one of the more offbeat ‘date’ movies in a while.

Elessar is a 23 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’s still a little surprised by how much he liked this movie.

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