Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgWarm Bodies is a “paranormal romantic zombie comedy film.” I know what you’re thinking, “oh great, another one of those.” But jokes aside, there is very little here that is original or clever despite the genre mashup of the premise. The story concerns a zombie teen that goes by ‘R’ because that’s all he can remember of his name. R is on a constant search for human flesh from the still living humans. He’s a particular connoisseur of brains as they allow him to experience the memories of the former owner. You see even though he is a zombie, he yearns to be human again. One day he meets non-zombie Julie and a bunch of her friends, including her boyfriend, Perry. R kills Perry, eats his brain and becomes immediately attracted to her. Instead of killing her, R rescues her from the attack. Can you guess what happens next?

The zombie twist notwithstanding, this basically plays out like the umpteenth variation of Beauty and the Beast. Except Belle didn’t take up with the Beast right after he killed her boyfriend. That troubling bit of logic is part of the reason why this romance doesn’t really work. Julie and R never function as more than a writer’s construct of what young impetuous kids in love are supposed to do in these films. We get lots of dewy-eyed stares from actor Nicholas Hoult.  Actress Teresa Palmer conveys sympathetic anxiety. There’s a ton of musical selections that intrude on the action at inappropriate times on the soundtrack too. The movie could easily be chopped up into sections and run as videos on MTV. I mean, that is if MTV still played videos. One “wacky” music montage actually has the two adolescents trying on different pairs of sunglasses. I wish that was meant to be satirical, but sadly it’s done with utter sincerity.

Warm Bodies is pleasant but not perceptive. William Shakespeare did this way back in the 16th century when he wrote Romeo & Juliet (another influence). Even The Bard of Avon was borrowing from earlier traditions. “Love Conquers All” is the timeworn concept. Simply adding zombies to the mix is just a lazy technique to make this generic material seem fresh. “We’ve kind of done vampires to death so let’s concentrate on zombies now,” is the impression I get from the way the story pitch went. Additionally the illogical plot contrivances further irritate matters. If someone killed my sweetheart, I’d run in the other direction, not date them. Warm Bodies is based on the debut novel of author Isaac Marion. Not having read the source text, I’m not sure how much of the script contains the root of Marion’s ideas. Unfortunately the screenplay adaptation feels more like the result of a focus group than the outcome of genuine inspiration.

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40 Responses to “Warm Bodies”

  1. Yeah I think I can skip this one. Hope it doesn’t become “The Warm Bodies Saga”.

  2. Good review, honestly I think this is miles above the Twilight Saga but it still feels like it’s trying to be Twilight with Zombies half the time. I did think it was at least pleasant, but it played things way too safe for me (as well as breaking way too many Zombie rules for my personal preference, lol)

    Other than that I thought Malkovich was given a completely flat role and surprisingly ended up being one of the weakest parts of the movie for me.

    • I’d actually put Eclipse in The Twilight Saga above this for genuine emotion at least. Warm Bodies is not even close to being as self aware as it think it is. Anyone who finds Warm Bodies perceptive should go watch Shaun of the Dead first.

      And you’re so right about the breaking of too many zombie rules. It sets up it’s premise, then doesn’t have the courage to follow through on it’s own rules.

      I too was disappointed with Malkovich. He was wasted in a generic, throwaway part. After doing Jonah Hex, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and now this, he should probably start evaluating his movies roles a little more.

  3. Good review Mark. It could have pushed more boundaries, but with what it is, it’s still a great movie that’s genuine focus to characters work and make the movie so damn much better.

    • I sort of already said something similar in my review, but I’ll quote movie critic Ethan Alter who put it this way “Gee, we really want to make another teen romance, but it needs a twist. I know! Make one of them a zombie!” Sorry but I thought the characters were completely generic.

  4. Nice review, Mark. No way I’m seeing this one. It just looks like a complete waste of time.

  5. “R kills Perry, eats his brain and becomes immediately attracted to her.” Mark, I really burst out laughing reading this line. What a situation!! Is this what we’re in for in this film? Too bad, it almost had me enticed….

    • That line makes it sound as if the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. Could we be in for a satiric take on the zombie movie à la Shaun of the Dead? No such luck. Unfortunately this plays it way too straight for most of the time. The blasting soundtrack with a pop song seemingly every 10 minutes is an sad example of this.

  6. One of the few reasons I’ll be seeing this (most likely on DVD, not in theaters) is because of the zombie conceit… but I am not too excited about the romance. From the trailers, their “relationship” (or whatever) looks really cheap.

  7. Nice review! How was Analeigh Tipton in this?

  8. Methinks you might be expecting too much of this one. Its a disposable romantic comedy, with the zombie element standing in as the “twist”. The zombie purist in me bristled at how they ignored the zombie rules, but once I got past that this was a pleasant enough movie for a February release.

  9. I’ll probably check it out on DVD, but it doesn’t look like something particularly memorable. All those teen romantic movies are quite disappointing lately, no matter how ‘unique’ they try to be.

  10. Hey Mark a friend and I saw in Saturday. You and I are on the same page. Yes it’s Romeo & Juliet meets Beauty of the Beast but the beast wouldnt shut the heck up. Even Shakepearean soliloques musing to themselves dont go on this long or as tediusly. You comments about the MTV soundtrack were what I said near word for work to my friend. Aside from a few laughs this just bites.

    • How ironic that the person who talked the most (mostly in narration) was actually a zombie…something without a brain! He didn’t have anything interesting to say anyway so I guess it kind of made sense?!

      I felt like a zombie after listening to him blather on for 97 minutes.

  11. I didn’t mind that they broke zombie rules, although I thought the script was lazily written for people who don’t know that there are better zombie comedies out there. I didn’t read the book either. My girlfriend did and she wasn’t in love with either the book or the movie, but she did say the book was better. In the book she said they got more into the dynamics in the zombie society between the corpses and the bonies, something I would have preferred to learn more about.

    • If you’re going to break zombie rules then why make him a zombie? Because the filmmakers knew this clichéd claptrap had no originality without that idea.

      I have nothing against the book. I’m sure it made more sense.

  12. I’m not usually a zombie fan but saw the trailer for this at the cinema – seems funny in parts – may give it a go..

  13. Great review. I loved this movie, because it has a nice idea and it was able to tell the story well. I also think Nicholas Hoult did a great job. I didn’t see any Twilight connection, but I haven’t seen the whole series, just the first movie. Warm Bodies was good, but I don’t think it’s gonna become a saga.

    • Nicholas Hoult has done some good movies and he’s got some major ones planned in the next year or two: Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

  14. I got more than I expected. It was a simple, cute movie. I liked the idea of the zombie reversal. I didn’t need questions answered, cause zombies aren’t real anyways. I do agree the music montage with the sunglasses was dumb. But the montage with “pretty woman”, made up for it. 3 stars

    • I get what you’re saying, but I still expect “unreal” entities to still behave according to the rules. For example, a mermaid should have the tail of a fish. If she doesn’t then don’t call the creature a mermaid.

      But I agree with you. When Analeigh Tipton throws on “Pretty Woman” during the makeover scene, it was done with a wink and a smile. So yeah, that was funny.

  15. Good review! I gave it 2.5/5 too as it I found it very irritating. 🙂

  16. Interesting take, I haven’t seen it yet but it only confirms what I was dreading about: a switch from vampires to zombies. I will watch it eventually but will keep this review in mind.

    Great writing skills by the way, and great site.

    • The script is very pleased with itself as being more self aware than Twilight. It has its moments, but it also succumbs to Twilight-like shtick as well. The soundtrack is packed with songs that annoyingly pop up throughout the movie. Also see “sunglasses montage” comment above.

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