Warm Bodies (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Warm Bodies (2013)

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The cross-spiritual romance of the centuryAndrew LIKE BannerThe ebb and flow of fiction is consistently remarkable.  We've gone from supernatural films being something of rare delight that peaked in the '80s (with TV's Beauty and the Beast and Ghost) to something of constant derision (The Coven, Cursed).  Now they're regularly good, with my own love of the Twilight films well documented and the surprising quality of movies like Beautiful Creatures.

What Warm Bodies does is fill the empty space for a mid-range supernatural film that entertains, lingers somewhat in the mind, and then leaves with some fuzzy memories.  There's always a place in the world for the good but not great films.  Sometimes I have an afternoon free where I just want to watch something I'm going to enjoy that has a bit of wit and doesn't pose too much of a challenge.

Provided you are able to get through the inherent necrophilia subtext as well as I could is something that will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  If you find yourself on the winning end, welcome to the Warm Bodies enjoyment club!  If not, well, I haven't seen a good romance with two living partners yet this year so I'd be happy to get back to you on recommendations.

The Bonies, zombies who ripped off their own skin, don't do much to differentiate themselves from their skin-wearing brothers to justify their presence.

The Bonies, zombies who ripped off their own skin, don't do much to differentiate themselves from their skin-wearing brothers to justify their presence.

Warm Bodies is about a romance of the most unusual kind.  A nameless zombie shuffles around in the aftermath of some kind of global holocaust as one of the few moving participants remaining until he falls in love with a living human during a routine hunt.  Watching a zombie shuffle through his daily life could be a bore given their slow moving speed, but this nameless one is saddled with a sardonic attitude toward the denizens of his environment and how he remembers the good ol' days when people communicated via cell phone with one another even though they were standing shoulder to shoulder.

If the satire seems a bit broad there, it's well within the history of past zombie films.  Thankfully, the ideas are carried out with a deft hand by director, and screenwriter, Jonathan Levine.  He knows how to balance some of the ridiculous ideas of the novel that the film is based on, which might work well in the mind, with the idea that someone might actually see these ideas someday.  Sometimes it's implemented by looking at the life of a zombie literally, like the hilarious minute that two zombie best friends spend silently staring and trying to grunt at each other for an idea of what to do until the heat death of the universe.  Other times it's the way he interacts with the living world by cutting from a life or death situation to an excellent '80s pop rock ballad.

His success is in taking a story that shouldn't be treated with any sort of seriousness, a zombie falling in love with a living girl, and interjecting just enough pop sensibility to make the whole thing fun.  There's not much more to the film than that, but Levine keeps thinking of ways to try and spruce up the notion and have some fun with it.  Where else can you find a zombie attack shuffle at barely .01 MPH set to the adrenaline rush of The Scorpions "Rock You Like A Hurricane?"

Conversational moans are much funnier than any comprehensible dialogue between these two.

Conversational moans are much funnier than any comprehensible dialogue between these two.

Unfortunately, that same pop sensibility fails to transcend the film beyond the supernatural genre limitations.  I chuckled a lot during Warm Bodies, and enjoyed the odd chemistry between Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, but aside from a lot of joking juxtaposition between the living and the dead there's not much else there.  Rob Corddry continue his trend in acting in films where he proves he can do better, even if the results here are good, and Dave Franco has another supporting role that, much like the recent Now You See Me, shows that he deserves better roles than those that get killed off barely a quarter of the way through the film.

It's a clever exercise and little more.  I enjoyed it, no doubt there, but if you're not already sympathetic to any aspect of the film there's nothing that's going to convert you here.  For anyone else, necrophilia never seemed so appealing.

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Warm Bodies - TailWarm Bodies (2013)

Screenplay written and directed by Jonathan Levine.
Starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. I think I enjoyed this one more than you. This was one of the most enjoyable films of the first half of the year and I wouldn’t be surprised to find it on my top list for the end of the year. This is shocking to me because I am not a big fan of zombie films but this one really got to me.

    • I completely agree that this is one of the most enjoyable films of this first half-year but low hanging fruit and all. It’s still good, I just didn’t fall in love with it, and between this and 50/50 Levine’s shaping up to be a director I’m going to have to keep an eye on.

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