Friday, February 22, 2013

Warm Bodies Movie Review

Gentlemen, I have good news! If you've ever had a girlfriend make you sit through an appalling Twilight movie, then you will definitely have grounds to make her watch this supernatural/romance/comedy/horror movie with you. It's hard not to compare Warm Bodies (2013) to Twilight, but I guarantee Warm Bodies is a fun movie that you will both enjoy.
With much of the future world's population rendered into an undead horde, R (Nicholas Hoult) is a young and oddly introspective zombie. On a feeding encounter with a human gathering party, R meets a human named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and feels an unusual urge to protect her. What happens with that is the beginning of a strangely warm relationship that causes R to start to regain his humanity. As this change spreads throughout the undead population, Julie and R eventually find they are facing a larger issue even as their friendship is challenged. Caught between paranoid human forces and the ferocious "Bony" zombies who are a mutual threat, R and Julie must find a way to bridge the sides of the fight for a better world no one thought possible.
There isn't much of a way to describe Warm Bodies without it sounding silly and cheesy. It's a romance story between a girl and a zombie amidst a zombie apocalypse. Yes, that sounds just like Twilight with zombies instead of vampires. That is a completely justified reaction, but there is more to it than that. Warm Bodies is creative, funny, and doesn't take itself too seriously. It's also got some highly interesting social commentary on interpersonal connection and dating. Twilight didn't do anything beyond the dreadful relationship, but Warm Bodies does. Besides, I think most of us could believe a story where a girl falls in love with rotting corps rather than a sparkly one.
This is the first time that I can think of where we get to see the zombie apocalypse from the zombie's perspective. R has some remarkably hilarious inner monologue as he thinks about the state of the world, the dull repetition in his life, and longing to connect with people. It's not really clear why R still has complex, civilized thoughts but still shambles around eating people.  The setting isn't quite detailed enough to explain that, but that's a silly thing to get hung up on. The Bonies were too convenient of an antagonist; they are just there to be a mutual problem. I understand the zombies and humans needed a reason to unite, but I think a little more thought could have been put into it. R narrates the only functional difference between them and the zombies, "They call these guys Bonies. They don't bother us, much, but they'll eat anything with a heartbeat. I mean, I will too, but at least I'm conflicted about it..."
Good science fiction makes commentary on contemporary issues in a unique, metaphorical way. Early in the movie R is lamenting how he's surrounded by dead beings who don't communicate with one another and tries to imagine what it was like before the apocalypse. It cuts away to the same pre-apocalyptic airport with living people who are all aimlessly wandering around while focused on their cell phones and electronic devices and not making eye contact. Our technologies and portable instant gratification devices are killing our ability to converse and meaningfully connect with others; we really are becoming zombie-like in a way. Warm Bodies also comments on the awkwardness of dating. R is a dead decomposing corpse and is looming over Julie and thinks, Don't be creepy! Don't be creepy! Later, R is trying to impress and thinks to himself, Play it cool, say something intelligent. He groans out the words, "How...are... you..?" then thinks, Nailed it. I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't had a similar thoughts stemming from their own lack of confidence.
Warm Bodies makes some very subtle allusions to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The two characters are R (Romeo) and Julie (Juliet) and they come from warring "families." Julie's former boyfriend is Perry (Dave Franco) references Paris, R's zombie friend M (Rob Corddry) is a reference to Mercutio, and Julie's friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton) is a nurse referencing Juliet's nurse. Julie's father (John Malkovich) is the hardcore military zombie-killing authority figure and kind of resembles Juliet's family who refuses to allow her to be with someone from the opposing family. There is also the infamous "balcony scene" parodied in Warm Bodies. These are pretty subtle; the movie isn't technically based on Romeo and Juliet, they just reference it in creative, subtle ways.
Warm Bodies features fairly simple but very relatable characters, zombie mayhem, some special effects that falter a little bit on occasion, some great social commentary, a well written script, some strangely sweet romantic scenes, good acting, and hilarious comedy. It managed to do this without screwing up our well-loved concept of zombies the way Twilight did with vampires. Yeah, there is some violent imagery but most of the nasty gore and such takes place just off screen; the imagery is suitable for its PG-13 rating. I took a friend to see Warm Bodies with me; she doesn't like zombie movies but she said she enjoyed this one. Warm Bodies probably isn't going stand the test of time. It's good, but not great; but still a better love story than Twilight. At just over an hour and a half, it's a nice, fun romp that never seems to quite fit into one genre. I'm going to say this is worth renting when it hits home video, however I enjoyed it enough to buy it on Blu-Ray.

Here's the trailer to show you how humorous Warm Bodies is:

Stephenie Meyer totally raped the concept of a vampire then left it wounded and crying. Warm Bodies put a slightly new spin on our beloved zombie model, but it's okay since it didn't twist it around into something shameful, deplorable, or irritating. Can you think of a movie or book that puts a new spin on a classic fictional creature idea that still respects the original? Comment below and tell me about it! I don't want to miss anything good.

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