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Caleb Masters

Warm Bodies: Cold But Charming

Feb 01, 2013

Warm Bodies is Summit Entertainment’s latest foray to capture the “Twi-hard” audience by delivering a new spin on zombies. Much like Twilight, Warm Bodies is throwing out generations worth of mythology in favor of a more melodramatic and romantic take. Is this the beginning of a new era of zombies or does the movie come out cold?

Warm Bodies begins in a world that has already been totally overrun by zombies. Months have passed and humanity has walled itself off into pockets of society from the fallen world around it. The movie takes us inside the head of R(Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who misses the days of human connection and life. One day R runs into a group of teenagers who are led by a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer). R and several other zombies attack the group and R takes down Julie’s boyfriend and begins eating his brains which transfers her boyfriend’s memories to R. R begins developing emotions for her and takes her hostage. He takes her back to his living area on old airplane and the two begin to bond as R slowly becomes more and more human as he develops stronger emotions for Julie.

If this movie sounds like a cheesy pitch for a SyFy original movie; it’s because it plays like one. This movie is aiming to be THE zombie romantic comedy, and to some degree it succeeds whenever it is playing off of its clever sense of humor, but whenever it panders to its target audience it becomes absolutely cringe worthy with enough face palming moments to send you to the hospital. There are laughs to be had in this film, but at the price of a story, characters, and production that is cheap and screams cash-in. At the end of the day the story in the movie boils down to the zombie apocalypse being defeated by the power of love. If you can swallow that bit of cheese; you might just find yourself enjoying many of the laughs this movie has to offer.

The acting here is serviceable with Nicholas Hoult turning in a painfully awkward charm as R. He may have a pretty weak script to work with, but Hoult is able to turn this undead character into something filled with quite a bit of unique liveliness. Aside from his lead the movie has a pretty generic cast despite the inclusion of the always excellent John Malkovich.

Writer/Director Jonathan Levine sadly misses the mark on this adaption of of the book of the same name. This is the director who brought us “50/50” and “The Wackness”; both of which were excellent comedic dramas. Warm Bodies is taking a similar tonal approach with the dark and seemingly hopeless zombie apocalypse, but sadly the cheap look and two-dimensional characters in the movie make it incredibly hard to believe in. Levine’s script is equally messy because of his smarter approach that was seemingly butchered by lots of gimmicks that were shoehorned in to please younger audiences.

The production on this film is cheap from top to bottom. I find it shocking just how poorly these zombies look especially when there are TV shows like "Walking Dead" that manage to do significantly better work on a seemingly tighter budget. There were several times I almost had to do a double take to make sure that the zombies had on more make-up than just eye-liner. Warm Bodies is going for a much lighter tone so judging it hard for its zombie effects may seem harsh, but these weak design choices were a constant reminder of just how poorly the presentation of this already corny story is.

Overall I found Warm Bodies to be a clever attempt at a very flawed premise. The movie had its moments where the humor was actually smart enough to be self-aware and the character of R was certainly enjoyable to watch, but the movie ultimately turns out to be a really cheap romantic comedy with the zombie gimmick attached. Warm Bodies is without a doubt pandering to the “twi-hard” audience which is sadly what makes this movie fail to leave any real impression. Once the experience was over I neither loved or despised what I had seen which is ultimately what leads to this movie’s greatest failure.

If you’re a big fan of even the worst romantic comedies and you can’t still catch the excellent Silver Lining’s Playbook in theaters then this movie may be worth a matinee for you, but for everyone else I would say Warm Bodies is better left to the dollar bin at blockbuster.

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