Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WARM BODIES Review- Jonesy's Take

Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Written by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, and John Malkovich
Synopsis: A zombie falls in love and saves a human girl from an attack, which sparks life in his undead body.

I didn't think it could happen, but a film actually added a new spin to a very saturated genre. The "zombie movie" has been through the ringer; we've seen slow zombies, freakishly fast zombies, funny zombies, and  even T.V. zombies. Now, thanks to the new film by Jonathan Levine (50/50), we have zombies falling in love in WARM BODIES.

WARM BODIES follows our hero, R (Nicholas Hoult), as a unusually self-aware zombie. We here R's thoughts in one of the least annoying voice overs I've seen in a film as he grunts and meanders around the airport. Sometimes he gets lost, sometimes he has "conversations" with his best friend, M (Rob Corddry), and sometimes he falls in love. Even though life as a zombie seems pretty monotonous, there are still dangers in the world. You always have to be on the lookout for brains to eat, but you have to be careful not to get shot in the head by the living.

On a quest for food, he runs into Julie (Teresa Palmer), and an immediate sort of spark sparks within him. He can't fully comprehend why, but he doesn't want to kill her and eat her brains. Instead, he takes her back to his airplane, which is his makeshift apartment decorated with trinkets he's collected (what a hoarder), and insists she stay with him for a couple days to keep her safe. Thus begin the story of Romeo and Juliet...I mean, R and Julie.

Even though there are obvious Romeo and Juliet elements woven into the story, like star-crossed lovers, overbearing father, not to mention all the names almost matching, it never feels like it's trying to rip-off the material. WARM BODIES is able to stand on its own feet. From the beginning, the humor shines through and destroyed any reservations I had about watching a zombie love story. This is thanks to Hoult's performance as R. As a zombie, he can't really talk, but as his love for Julie develops, so does his humanity. He gives a fascinating and subtle performance mixed with a lot of humor, and he brings a warmth and earnestness to R. As he slowly develops and becomes more "human," his body begins to change; is posture becomes more upright, his speech becomes clearer, his eyes show more warmth. Julie isn't just some pushover damsel that needs saving all the time; she has a bit of an edge to her personality that makes her a more interesting heroine. Hoult and Palmer's chemistry is palpable, and they actually have the audience cheering for a zombie and human to get together.

The show stopper of the film is Rob Corddry's M. He may only utter about twenty words in the whole film, Corddry's performance is funny, obviously, and yet very sweet. It's a difficult task to portray the undead, especially when you're suppose to be a sympathetic character and you have next to no lines. However, both Corddry and Hoult have mastered the art of speaking through nonverbal communication. A glance here and a shrug there can speak volumes.

In this world, the story manages to add to the mythos of the zombie genre. There's the main arc of zombies falling in love, and then there's the aspect of a zombie can turn into an even worse zombie called Bonies. Bonies are zombies who have given up all hope, ripped off their skin, and all of a sudden become freakishly fast and angry. They're an added danger to both regular zombies and humans alike. No chance for them to change; they will eat you without a second thought.  However, the effects used to create them look Sy-fy channel cheap. The relationship part of the story was strong and tense enough that there didn't need the added antagonist there. 

WARM BODIES is a breath of fresh air during the lull season of movies. It's smart, witty, hilarious, and quite sweet. The pacing never felt off, and I wished it was longer because I enjoyed the relationships. From zombies eating brains to opposites attracting, there is something for everyone in this movie. This film should be making so much more money than it has been making.

No comments:

Post a Comment