Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Warm Bodies

R is a zombie who spends his days mindlessly wandering around an airport and observing the life of his other zombies, questioning who they are and why they do what they do. One day, on a hunt for fresh human brains, he encounters Julie and her group of survivors who have left their safe haven in search of supplies. After he kills and eats Julie's boyfriend's brains, he shares the boyfriend's fond memories of Julie and decides to save her through rudimentary communication and a promise not to eat her. Ass the two spend more and more time away from the other zombies on an abandoned plane, the two build a connection, but is the world ready for a human/zombie relationship? And can zombies really reclaim their humanity?

Warm Bodies is a great idea for a film: What if zombies could actually feel emotions and communicate with humans again? Basically, what if film makers actually remembered zombies used to be humans before they became brain eaters? And it's a perfect time to explore that idea, given the phenomenal worldwide success of Twilight, which focused on the relationship(s) between a human girl and a vampire and a werewolf. Plus, almost everything else has been done with the zombie genre, so why not a zombie film told from the zombie's point of view? It's a fantastic idea, and seems it like it could have cult appeal in the same vein as Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim, so has it been executed to its full potential? I would argue, no.

The problem is a book allows you to develop scenarios and plot devices over time. A film requires you to rush towards a conclusion faster, so everything that happens in order to drive the film forward toward its final third is rushed, and that's exactly what you get here. The zombies go from unintelligible to word smiths in a relatively short space of time, seen especially in Rob Corddry's character M. He goes from mindless zombie to authoritative zombie army leader in the space of half an hour, which admittedly is a third of the film, but it's just too short a space of time for anyone other than the main character to develop those kind of skills. For R, it would have been understandable, in order to keep the film moving forwards, then maybe in a sequel (Warmer Bodies?) he could have spread his gift to the other zombies and reclaimed their humanity and rejoined the world then. Instead, they're welcomed back into the world at the end of 90 minutes and closes the door on a potential sequel, which I found to be disappointing, as otherwise I would have liked to have revisited this world again at some point.

At times, the romance between R and Julie gets a little bit schmultzy, but alas this is the world we live in now and the relationship they need to put on screen is one that appeals to a younger audience who watched Twilight in their millions and millions, but at times it was done extremely well and the development of their relationship was well timed and well executed. I liked Nicholas Hoult's performance as R, he was extremely affable and likeable throughout and was well written for, given some great lines and offers some amusing insights into the life of the zombie. Teresa Palmer's performance was uneven at best, going from wooden to over the top in love in the blink of an eye. Still a better performance than Kristen Stewart, and still a better love story than Twilight. John Malkovich is in this film not nearly enough, though the bits he is in, he delivers the same kind of strong but strange performance he's now mastered over the years. Rob Corddry is bad. That's all the needs to be said.

Aside from all the issues I have with the plot and the development of the story, the film is technically sound, with some shots extremely reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim as they appear to be in a comic book style and leap out as something different. The soundtrack is really great too, creating a really memorable mix of contemporary and nostalgic, creating exactly the right kind of mood for the action on screen. The editing is done well and the visual effects are great, if sometimes a little too gory for the kind of audience they're aiming for. Sometimes, it seems like the True Blood effects team had their way with the film instead of the Twilight effects team, and it's offputting from the action we're meant to be focusing on.

Overall, this isn't a bad film, it just didn't grab me as being anything too special, which is a shame given the subject matter. It could have had the same kind of cult appeal that Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim have ascertained, but I feel like this one will be a forgotten film, one of those DVDs that'll be on the shelf of CEX for £2.50 within the year. I reckon there is a great film in there somewhere, it's just aimed toward the wrong audience and it loses its appeal and originality by going in the wrong direction. I may watch this again, but not if I have to pay more than £3 for it in CEX. I love that place. Probably a bit more than this film, unfortunately.

Rating: **1/2