WARM BODIES: Movie Review

Mark Julian reviews Warm Bodies from Summit Entertainment. Is the zombie love story something fresh and new or is it familiar trappings wrapped in clever marketing? It's both, just not in equal measure. Read on to find out exactly what I mean. Spoiler Free

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By Mark Julian - 1/30/2013


I loved the first 15 minutes of Warm Bodies. However, the remaining 1 hr and 22 min were an uneven spectacle that often asked its audience to make one unbelievable leap after the next. Confusingly enough, the film is a plot driven undertaking that yet, often asked the audience to forgive its absurd storytelling mechanics and just go with it. Nicholas Hoult is admirable in his take on the undead R but catatonic performances from his supporting cast don't give him much to play off. With Hoult more or less mute aside from inner monologues, the film relies heavily on Teresa Palmer (Julie) to carry a large chunk of the movie but she doesn't have the range to play a character that's semi damsel in distress and yet sometimes a badass. She has the badass down, see her previous roles in I Am Number Four, but when the action stops it's a real struggle to maintain any interest in what happens to her character.

As for the actual plot, I won't go into too much detail but Hoult plays R and Palmer play Julie. That's a clue as to what the underlying theme of the story that I'm sure all you Shakespeare aficionados will figure out pretty quickly. Warm Bodies is based on a book of the same name from Isaac Marion that makes no effort to hide it's Shakespearean allusions while the adaptation's marketing has certainly downplayed this aspect of the story which is actually a pretty significant part.

After the brilliant first 15 minutes where the world is mapped out and the rules are defined, the audience is asked to make a nonsensical leap as to why Hoult's flesh-eating monstrosity has suddenly fallen for Palmer and there's a couple of even more nonsensical leaps springing out from that development that takes you right out of the film and leaves you shaking your head. Essentially, this is the type of film that asks you to enjoy it for what it is, like how Looper asks you to not too focus on its travel mechanics and just accept its rules. The problem with Warm Bodies is that there aren't enough fun or dynamic pieces to distract you from any plot hangups. Rob Corddry (M, another Shakespeare allusion) by far the funniest character in the film, was criminally underused and steals every scene he's in with some brilliant comedic timing. Likewise, John Malkovich (Grigio) needed more screen time as he brought some much needed gravity to the post-apocalyptic world. Dave Franco (Perry) plays the third most important character in the film but his delivery and mannerisms haven't changed since Fright Night.

Overall, Warm Bodies tries to be a quirky entertaining escapade but the film is light on laughs and fails to distract from a story that contains one leap of logic too many. There's some enjoyment here but not much.





RELATED CONTENT:
Mark Julian Ranks The 2012 CBM Film Slate



Running Time: 1 hr 37 min
Release Date: February 1, 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich, Analeigh Tipton
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Written by: Jonathan Levine (screenplay),Isaac Marion (novel)

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28 Comments
thalidomide - 1/30/2013, 6:53 AM
Is this a comedy film?
JerBear - 1/30/2013, 6:58 AM
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/warm_bodies/
MarkJulian - 1/30/2013, 7:00 AM
@JerBear Expect that score to plummet just like The Last Stand once the film is released wide.
BlueHawaiiSurfer - 1/30/2013, 7:01 AM
Surprised?!?!? LOL, this looks like garbage, maybe as an SNL skit?!?!
PsyGuy - 1/30/2013, 7:03 AM
Saw it yesterday! Loved it!
PsyGuy - 1/30/2013, 7:03 AM
Way too harsh
Shadowelfz - 1/30/2013, 7:05 AM
Agreed Blue. This film just looks bad. Romeo and Juliette with zombies. No thank you!
HellsHammer - 1/30/2013, 7:07 AM
Dredd was at 100% on RT for a couple days too...
Greengo - 1/30/2013, 7:07 AM
"....asked the audience to forgive its absurd storytelling mechanics and just go with it."

Did they actually ask that or is that a figure of speech?

In both Savages and Kick Ass the narrator tells the viewer not to be a smart ass, and that just because they were narrating didn't mean they were still alive at the end of the movie.

Hickspy - 1/30/2013, 7:10 AM
They are seriously worried about this movie and how it's received. Which is probably how I got to see it 2 months ago.

It was ok.
sarahsatire - 1/30/2013, 7:44 AM
They will ask me for forgiveness...

... and I will whisper.....

... no.
TheSonicScrew - 1/30/2013, 7:47 AM
Of course this being a nerdy site the problem would lay with nonsensical plot jumps...c'mon man...it's a feckin zombie love-story! Just go with it. I think it looks like great craic :)
sarahsatire - 1/30/2013, 7:49 AM
This is what I need in a zombie love story to make it work:

Greengo - 1/30/2013, 8:03 AM
Mmmmm sarah come back to TX lol
Giznad - 1/30/2013, 8:16 AM
if it's better than crappy Twilight, isn't that what matters?
sarahsatire - 1/30/2013, 8:57 AM
Good ol' Texas -- I do miss Austin!
bbarber2323 - 1/30/2013, 9:09 AM
Hellllllllllo Sarah!!!
HeadPool420 - 1/30/2013, 10:22 AM
This movie is the same as Beautiful Creatures and Twilight. The studios are turning horror into pg13 love stories for teenage girls.
PapaMidnite - 1/30/2013, 10:56 AM
@sarah, incredible how the same guy who made Braindead also made the LOTR trilogy. Irony is indeed a crippled whore in heaven!
sarahsatire - 1/30/2013, 11:13 AM
Hello bbarber!

Papa, It is TRULY mind boggling. That being said there is a stroke of genius in Dead Alive. It was so absurdly gory and hilarious, but there was some genuinely impressive directing techniques used considering the budget and the time. I'd say it takes a special kind of mind to make such a movie. It makes perfect sense that such a person would go on to make one of the most amazing trilogies in movie history (next to original Star Wars), right? ..... right?

Or we can chalk it up to "we all gotta start somewhere". :)
PapaMidnite - 1/30/2013, 11:24 AM
@sarah - no doubt, babe. You said it all! Want to talk about mind boggling?? WETA Digitals was born in the movie Bad Taste!!! The first practical effects of WETA were there! Ha! ;)
ISeeStupidPeople - 1/30/2013, 11:56 AM
Was hoping this wouldn't suck. Shame. Still probably see it for myself since I love zombie movies in general.
sarahsatire - 1/30/2013, 12:03 PM
@Papa Haha, if memory serves I think they mentioned that in the deluxe edition extras of LOTR. Learned a lot of interesting factoids watching that.
fawfulmark2 - 1/30/2013, 12:14 PM
damn,and I was hoping for another fun Zombie romance comedy like Shaun of the Dead....
BigK1337 - 1/30/2013, 3:00 PM
Crap, this might be the second book adaption that fails to reach the same popularity boost it gain as a book (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).

If this keeps up, than chances of me wanting to see Pride and Predjudice and Zombies will be slim.
. . . Than again, this is only a early review so maybe I should wait it out a bit.
Hexagram - 1/30/2013, 5:08 PM
50/50 was alright. I'll give this a shot.., a shot in the mouth eh? Heeheh heehhehe. Yeah, I'm dirty. Kidding. I will see this. Love Corddry!
Hexagram - 1/30/2013, 5:13 PM
Austin does rule! Lived there for a year and the Lamar Drafthouse kicks ass! Like you need me to tell you that.
Hexagram - 1/30/2013, 5:14 PM
Saw the Khan/Star Trek showing Leonard was at.

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