PG Cooper: Warm Bodies Review

Posted: June 21, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

warm-bodies-poster-ew-brandedBack in February, a movie called Warm Bodies came out to some decent reviews and box-office, especially for a film released so early in the year. I didn’t see the film because I thought it looked, well, stupid. A zombie romance film just seemed lame to me at the time. That may sound close-minded, but keep in mind the film was also marred with a horrible trailer. Still, the positive reviews did raise my interest, as did director Jonathan Levine (50/50). After seeing it for free at the library, I decided to give it a go.

Some catastrophic event has led to zombies investing the earth and the humans forming a resistance in a walled of area of the city. The focus is on R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who engages in usual zombie acts, but he actually has thoughts about the world beyond what he will eat. He wonders if there could be more to life. One day, R and a pack of zombies attack some humans, when R sees Julie (Teresa Palmer). R decides to save and protect her, setting a chain of events which could challenge the fate of zombies forever.

The best thing about Warm Bodies is that it does something new with the zombie genre. I love a good zombie movie, but we’ve seen an endless stream of movies, tv shows, and videogames which deal with the undead and it’s all starting to blur together (for example, the upcoming World War Z). Warm Bodies on the other hand is a bit more original. The romance at the center of the film is actually handled in a fun way and it’s something we haven’t seen in zombie films. More importantly, the film deals with what humanity a zombie may still have, expanding on the ideas George A. Romero dealt with in his earlier zombie films. It takes those ideas in an interesting way and I enjoyed seeing them play out. Granted, the film isn’t entirely original. I think the film’s climax is pretty run-of-the-mill and there’s also a scene stolen right out of Shaun of the Dead.

The acting here is very mixed. Nicholas Hoult is very good as the lead zombie R. He does a good job of balancing the human elements of the character while still being a zombie. He has a charisma and charm and he handles the gradual humanization very well. On the flipside, I was very unimpressed with Rob Cordry has R’s best friend who’s also a zombie. Cordry never is believable as a zombie and I was constantly aware I was watching an actor in make-up. I know that sounds like a silly complaint, but it bothered me. The rest of the cast is fine. No one really excels, and I thought the John Malkovich character was underwritten and underused, especially since they got an actor of Malkovich’s caliber.

One element Jonathan Levine showed real talent for in 50/50 was an ability to pick music for the soundtrack. While I don’t remember any specific music, I do recall being very impressed with the selections. This is also true of Warm Bodies. Levine has a good ear and seems to know what music will really accentuate a scene. Particularly noteworthy is the scene where R first sees Julie. John Waite’s “I Ain’t Missing You” is used in a fun way, but what really makes the scene is the music being immediately followed by R brutally murdering and eating a human.

A lot of movies which dabble in multiple genres have problems in fully satisfying them all. Warm Bodies has this problem. The film is a comedy-romance-zombie film but only nails one of those elements. The comedy here is really weak and I actually didn’t laugh once. As a zombie film, the ideas are interesting but the thrills and the world of zombies are not quite as good as in other zombie films. Part of the problem here is that most of the film’s thrills come from a group of characters called bonies. Essentially they’re further regressed zombies. I hated these characters. The special effects are really weak on them, they only exist to provide shallow conflict in the third act, and in general they conflict with the film’s overall message. Surprisingly enough it’s the romance that works best. The film doesn’t overplay the drama and instead allows the relationship to be much more fun. There’s a real charm to watching the romance play out and it’s kind of cute. Calling it cute may seem faint praise, but there are worse things to be.

Unbalanced would be a good way to describe Warm Bodies. Good performances are offset by bad ones, good production values by bad production values, original ideas with non-original ideas, etc. And yet even with that said, I do think the film works more than it doesn’t. It’s a decent way to spend an afternoon, particularly as a rental or a film caught on cable. This isn’t a film which will stick with me, but it was enjoyable enough.

C+

Comments
  1. le0pard13 says:

    My son gave me this in Blu-ray for Father’s Day. Now I have further reason to screen it. Thanks, Daniel.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    Good review PG. It’s a sweet movie, that actually knows how random it’s plot is, but doesn’t let that get in the way of the love, man.

  3. Good review! This was a cute movie. Definitely not as memorable as Shaun of the Dead, but a decent rental.

  4. I hear you on Cordry, PG. It was shaky, but I enjoyed it a little more than you (what else is new, right? ;) ) We’re not too far apart though, I gave it a B.

  5. moviebuff801 says:

    Watched this last night, and we’re pretty much in agreement, though I’d rate it just one notch higher at a B- (2 1/2 out of 4 in the star system I use). I’m just thankful this had more personality than Twilight.

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