Warm Bodies Review
Definitely has a pulse.
Thousands of years from now when alien archeologists are sifting through the decayed ruins of our once mighty civilization some clever PhD student will write a thesis claiming that that the decline and fall of Western Civilization (if you know where that came from we should hang out and listen to music some time) started when the entertainment priests decreed that all forms of film need to appeal to to teenage girls. When you think about it, the film Interview with a Vampire turned vampires from horrible blood sucking monsters into teeny bopper dreamboats that goth girls swoon over, setting the stage for the inevitable worst case scenario, the entire Twilight series. We have recently seen the noble film role of brutal melee combat switched over with the Hunger Games, and now we see them make a stab at turning zombies into adolescent romance fulfillment.
First of all let me do a huge public service to any dumb teenage girls who think having a zombie boyfriend sounds like a good idea. The idea of zombies being so charmed by you and falling in love is ludicrous. No matter how much like a hipster dreamboat he may look like, when he gets close he will smell like death and try to eat your brains (new Caution sign courtesy of the Zombie T Shirt category). Of course, the same thing could be very well said about vampires (that they are evil blood suckers who only want your life essence and burst into flame in daylight, not pretty boy sparkle fairies) so I doubt any of you will listen.
On the drive home from this film I was worried that this, like Interview, would be patient zero for the deluge of zombie romance films but upon reflection I decided this is a seed not likely to take root. When you think about it Hollywood is fighting an uphill battle trying to convince us that zombies are sexy. They got away with in this film (more on that later) but the fact is they are animate rotting corpses and if there is anything remotely romantic about that for you do the world a favor and move to a pod at the bottom of the ocean please.
So this film was cute and I did indeed enjoy it. However, it could have been amazing and instead opted for trite and cute. This is the only real issue I have with this film. You see, the idea of societal integration of zombies has been well explored in great movies like Fido and Shaun of the Dead. In those films zombies are still rotting corpses but uses are found for them. In this film the zombies are coming back to life, but we only see ones who do are fortunate enough to not be missing their lower jaw, or have half their face rotted away.
Think how shocking and cool the story could have been if the main zombie had not been a hipster pretty boy (by the way, in retrospect it is pretty amazing how well hipster guys play zombies. When you think about it there is something zombie-ish about all hipsters: bad hair, pale skin, poor posture, and clothing that looks like they crawled out of a shallow grave wearing it. Put a picture of a zombie next to a picture of a guy stumbling home from Zeitgeist in San Francisco and I defy you to accurately tell the difference) but instead been a gross, rotting zombie missing half of one cheek (classic image) and most of one arm who starts to recover his faculties and falls in love with a living human. She then falls for him not because he looks like Elliot Smith but because he saves her life over and over again and shows that he cares for her. That would be a great story. Then imagine of all the zombies regained their facilities, even the Boneys, forcing humans to reintegrate with walking skeletons. But no, all the recovered zombies have to be more or less perfectly human and all the bad guys have to be horribly disfigured. Lazy.
By they way, for those of you who know me and believe me to be a zombie purist and are wondering why I am not incensed about the idea of zombies recovering their brains let me tell you that as a concept that one has been long established in books like The Omega Man and most of the Romero films. The idea is that as time goes by they learn more using what brains they have left. I don’t have an issue with it.
The story. It is eight years past the Zombie Apocalypse and power is still running in some airport. A zombie later named R (Nocholas Hoult-X-Men First Class, About a Boy, A Single Man) stumbles around with his friend M (Rob Corddry-Hot Tub Time Machine, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, What Happens in Vegas) running an inner monolog narrative that details the undead life. He collect things like vinyl records and knows how to play them (using batteries that have lasted eight years as well). Meanwhile in the last remaining human stronghold eight cool kids with no training or experience are sent out in the wild to recover drugs or something. Among them is Julie (Teresa Palmer-I am Number Four, Bedtime Stories, the Sorcerers Apprentice), the daughter of the local dictator (the great John Malkovich-Being John Malkovich, Burn After Reading, Con Air). They are in a hospital when R and a bunch of his cronies attack. The kids show how incompetent they are (one guy yells “Shoot the head!”. Thanks Captain Obvious) and get pretty much all chomped. R eats the brains of Julie’s boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco-21 Jump Street, Superbad, Fright Night) and gains some of his memories. He has some kind of emotional reawakening and falls in love with Julie. He rescues her from the group and hides her in his plane. At that point the film devolves into a goofy romantic survival movie, with R trying to keep Julie both alive and interested in him.
Meanwhile the “Boneys” (zombies who have degenerated to the point where they have no capacity for emotion at all and are walking skeletons) have a problem with all this newfound emotion. R’s reawakening spreads to M and then to all the others. The humans, zombies, and Boneys all scrum up in an epic battle. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but if you have any kind of deductive reasoning (and by any kind I mean if you can deduce that jumping into a swimming pool will get you wet) then literally no part of this film will surprise you.
The stars. Cute and fun. Two stars. Interesting twist on zombies. One star. Zombie movie. One star. John Malkovich. One star. The new creepy-old-man love of my life Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid Love, the Green Hornet, Damsel in Distress) was looking super cute in this, and Teresa Palmer is pretty easy on the eyes too. One star. Overall an enjoyable movies. Two stars. Total: eight stars.
The black holes. Trite, with missed opportunities to be awesome. One black hole. A four year old could have predicted how this film was going to end (and, for that matter, pretty much every scene in it). I guess plot twists are passé. One black hole. Every kid in this film, human or zombie, reminded me of every super cool kid in high school that I wanted to murder. Also the main kid might have been a zombie, but if hipster were a disease I know what he died of. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
So five stars total. A good movie, and worth seeing. Definitely on the light side, so don’t expect too much. I think even a hard core zombie fan could enjoy this as long as he or she doesn’t take it too seriously. Date movie? If she is into zombies, vampires, or anything even remotely nerdy than absolutely. If this doesn’t get you laid I don’t know what will. If she is not into any of these things she will probably still like it as it is cute and romantic, but she might be grossed out by some of the undead stuff. Bathroom break? There is a scene where R and Julie shack up in a house for the night that is not really critical for the story. Most of this film is worth seeing and it’s only 97 minutes so I’d say try to hold it.
Thanks for reading. I have been really kind in my reviews lately. I think I need to buckle down and see something awful so I can remember what is like to deliver righteous vengeance on to a deserving bad flick. Looks like Hansel & Gretal wins that honor. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Feel free to post any comments on this film or my review at the bottom of the page (if you don’t see a review section click here). Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.