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Just Average34.62%
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3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Warm Bodies
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by Eric Lefenfeld

"But do the zombies sparkle in sunlight?"
2 stars

"Warm Bodies" wants it both ways in trying to tell a supernatural teen romance while also baring a bit more teeth than its wildly popular vampiric cousin. Thereís enough in the innate DNA of the story to succeed in this goal, so itís all the more frustrating as the film becomes progressively lazier and falls into all the traps it initially seemed set to avoid.

This reviewer bears no personal connection to those in charge of Summit Entertainment. They could be great folks, and not at all a collection of cash-hungry bandits, but one must assume a certain amount of cynical calculation went into bringing the hit YA book, "Warm Bodies," to the big screen. Not having read the source novel, itís possible that the story feels more vital on the page, but in film form, Warm Bodies is far too close to the logline that, more likely than not, was used to sell the project in the first place: "Twilight"... but with Zombies!

The film opens with a nice conceit that still manages to stand out amidst the seemingly endless wave of zombie films -- seeing the ramifications of the olí apocalypse through the eyes of the undead themselves. Thankfully, no time is wasted on the now-standard downfall of society; in other words, writer/director Jonathan Levine wisely recognizes that audiences have seen a zombie or two onscreen in the past, which should bode well for the rest of the film as it opens up the playground of ideas that much more.

The end of the world is in full swing, and survivors have walled themselves off within a small part of New York City, leaving the rest of the crumbling metropolis to the undead. Our protagonist, R, played by the ever-angular Nicholas Hoult, is a member of these undead ranks; he spends most of his time roaming an abandoned airport, sharing grunty communications with the other members of his horde. He might not speak, but he boasts an articulate inner monologue that belies a continued connection to humanity and a yearning for something beyond mindless shambling. Into this drudgery comes Julie (Teresa Palmer), a young woman who is rescued by an awestruck R when her supply run goes south. After absorbing her boyfriendís memories (through a particularly grisly process that the film just eventually writes off with a shrug), the two begin a tentative courtship, and R starts to regain more of his humanity.

Throughout the first act, it seems as if all "Twilight" comparisons might be in concept alone. Levine does a decent job in building this world, while also adding a few interesting wrinkles to the zombie mythos, namely that the process is gradual; people retain varying degrees of humanity before peeling off their skin and becoming ruthless, feral ďbonies.Ē Thatís a genuinely good idea, and not one that would be expected in a post-Pattinson world.

Levineís directorial voice has emerged over his previous two films ("50/50" and "The Wackness") with a shaggy affability. Those films could meander, but it was pleasant enough spending time with the characters, no matter what they were doing. Thereís a little bit of that in Rís courtship of Julie, when the two are just hanging out and getting to know each other while sheís trapped with him for a few days. There's a naturalness here to the romance that the rest of the film is sorely lacking. At some point, of course, a threat must kick in, and so it does in the form of Julieís father (John Malkovich), never fully hamming it up like we all know he so deliciously can as one of the leaders of the barricaded humans.

Itís here where things falter and the film fades into the cloud of frothiness that it initially seemed capable of avoiding. Thereís no follow-through to any of the interesting elements touched upon at the beginning. The bonies are well-designed, but theyíre reduced to a non-threatening plot device quickly after their introduction. Why are R and other members of their zombie brethren regaining their lost humanity? Thereís really never anything given beyond a fuzzy ďlove conquers allĒ pseudo-explanation. But who cares about any of this when you can see Nicholas Hoult shower in slow motion? Thatís ultimately where the priorities of the film lie. Scantily-clad young men and a lighter touch can exist in favor of a good story, but here itís the other way around, and decent ideas are shunted aside in favor of catering to a decidedly broader base.

Hoult is decent enough, given that heís limited to mostly awkward grunts and shuffling. "Skins" and "X-Men: First Class" have shown that heís got chops beyond just being a pretty face, but thatís more or less what heís used for here. The most egregious "Twilight" comparison can be be made about Teresa Palmer, whose character suffers the same fate as Bella Swan, namely in that she seems to exist solely to pinball between the other characters without any real motivation of her own.

Perhaps the film should only be judged as a slight piece of genre fluff, but that would be doing a disservice to other genre mash-ups that actually succeed. One has to look no further than "Shaun Of the Dead" to see that a movie of this ilk can successfully deliver on all fronts. Unlike that classic example, though, "Warm Bodies" isnít scary. It isnít particularly funny. And its romance is inert after a few small signs of life.

The notion of an optimistic zombie film is actually very refreshing given the ongoing glut of cookie-cutter genre releases, and although "Warm Bodies" occasionally threatens to break out of its teeny-bopper trappings, it ultimately succumbs without ever looking back.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23162&reviewer=430
originally posted: 01/31/13 11:26:08
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User Comments

2/19/14 Monday Morning Creative take on a played-out genre. 4 stars
10/29/13 dr.lao Uninspired attempt to do something creative with the nauseatingly overdone zombie fad 1 stars
10/25/13 KingNeutron Unique, touching, humorous - started out a bit slow but I really liked it :-) 4 stars
7/05/13 Charles Tatum Good, innocuous diversion 4 stars
6/13/13 Stephanie Grant Great!..That is if you love fun loving Zombies! 3 stars
3/07/13 Daniel High Cute movie, but have to be into zombies to think it worthwhile. 3 stars
2/18/13 Waldemar Walas It was very slow 1 stars
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  01-Feb-2013 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Jun-2013


  DVD: 04-Jun-2013

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