Ah, February. The month when all studios release the date movies that couples will be watching the rest of the year. Summit Entertainment has realized that there is ample room in the genre of horror-love. The result is Warm Bodies, an enjoyable, if flawed, film.
The plot of Warm Bodies is pretty straight forward for romance films. Boy meets girl, he falls for her first, she realizes later she loves him, happily ever after. But a movie doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. This ends up being a great thing for Bodies, as it focuses on the quirky atmosphere. I found myself wanting more by the end of the movie. The writers could have given more hints to the overall impact of the plot, something the end of the movie only gives hints too. The simple, yet different, take on zombies is the biggest point in the win column. Zombie fans will appreciate it, but fans not as acquainted with zombies will love it as well. No one does anything amazingly stupid, a first for a movie involving zombies.
Bodies doesn’t hide the fact that it uses Romeo and Juliet as an inspiration. The classic plot is fun to watch through a new lens, and doesn’t shove the Romeo and Juliet references down the viewers throat. The only reference that jumps out at the viewer is when R (Nicholas Hoult) yells up to Julie (Teresa Palmer) on a balcony. Besides the names of our main characters, we also have Rob Corddry playing M, which is a reference to Mercutio.
The writing isn’t as flashy as the plot. It’s rather cliche, but it gets the job done. Julie doesn’t receive much in the way of character development, other than having an overbearing father (John Malkovich). She’s likable, but that’s due to Palmer doing her best with the script. Considering this is a date style movie, you’d think the script would have given some time to Julie and her problems. The rest of the characters are so superfluous that they don’t require much in the way of development. The majority of R’s development comes from the snappy inner monologue that is peppered throughout the film. From the start, the audience gets a feel for who he is as a person. Instead of just telling us who R is, Jonathan Levine’s (50/50) script shows us. The take on zombies should have been explored deeper. The focus on Warm Bodies is love first, intricate repercussions of biological discoveries second. One plot point that I was just waiting to laugh at was the reason for R falling in love with Julie. But low and behold, it works really well.
The makeup department did a great job on R’s transformation. R’s slow change from zombie to human is done perfectly. Although Julie has a surprising amount of makeup on after living with R for a few days, which makes a lot of sense.
The CGI is is slightly sub par. The “Bonies” look great, but then we get a horribly edited green screen shot that takes the audience out of the scene. Even worse, these two scenes happen right after each other. Did the CGI team use up their money making the Bonies? They look scary, and fairly detailed.
The new take on zombies is a fun one. Having them be able to think opens up some new opportunities for drama. Survivors would have to rethink killing each zombie. When there is a zombie film, there need to be rules. Even light zombie films, like this, need rules for the undead. Are they Dawn of the Dead shamblers? Or are they 28 Days/Months Later runners? Warm Bodies can’t seem to make up it’s mind throughout the movie. Most seem to shamble about, but suddenly start running when it helps the plot. It’s confusing, and something simple for the production team to figure out. As a fan of zombie films, it’s downright frustrating. Having the zombies be more 28 Days/Months Later diseased than actually dead was a simple but effective choice.
Nicholas Hoult (Beast in X-Men: First Class) is very likable as R. R is fairly expressive, considering he can only grunt and give very basic facial gestures. But that gives R a simple innocence. His love for Julie feels real, as does his confusion about telling Julie about eating her boyfriend. Teresa Palmer is great as Julie. She’s equally capable handling long talking scenes, action filled scenes, and the subtly funny scenes. Hoult and Palmer have some good chemistry given the limitations on their dialogue. Malkovich and Corddry are good in their supporting roles, but underused. Corddry gets the best one liner of the movie.
Warm Bodies is the most even date movie that will come out this month. The entire screening was filled with couples, and everyone seemed to leave
Warm Bodies gets 3.5/5.
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