Friday, February 1, 2013

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

Before I begin my review, I want to give a shout out to Cincinnati Free Movies and Gofobo for allowing me the chance to see an advanced screening of  Warm Bodies this week at AMC 20 Newport on the Levee. It was a great experience and I look forward to many more advanced screenings. I, like the hundreds in attendance, was given a free pass through Gofobo's RSVP system which allows you to claim a ticket to an advanced screening. Check out Gofobo for screenings in your area!


Warm Bodies isn't your typical zombie movie. Certainly, there is the tried and true tale of zombies versus humans, but this movie transcends that. In the end, it's about connection with family, lovers, friends, and even yourself. When we meet R, played by Nicholas Hoult, he is questioning his reason for being. His zombie hive has taken up residence in an airport, which positioned near the ruins of what was probably a huge city, puts it in the perfect spot for hunting. However, R has grown tired of this existence and he longs for something more fulfilling. He does have a best friend,  M, played by Rob Corddry, with whom he shares "almost conversations," but this just doesn't seem enough for him.

The film is narrated by R and it allows us to get inside of his zombified brain. This really gives a lot of depth to what would otherwise be a fairly shallow plot since there's not a lot dialogue coming out of most zombies. This all changes, though, when R comes into contact with Julie with his hunting party. Instead of eating her brain, which is the status quo for the corpse set, he saves her and takes her back to his hive. Is it possible for a zombie and a human to make a connection so deep that it could change the world? This is the plot of Warm Bodies and it's a fun ride from start to finish.

Until this point I've neglected to mention that Warm Bodies is based on a book by Isaac Marion. The great thing about the movie is that having read the book prior to viewing is not required. Yes, after having read it this week, I have a deeper appreciation for the story, but the movie really does stand on its own because of the direction and screenplay of Jonathan Levine (50/50). He truly captures the depth that Marion puts forth in his debut novel and creates a film that not only is a zombie romance, but actually makes you think about the state of humanity.

Though Marion's book doesn't specify when the mysterious zombie plague occurs, the movie makes it pretty clear that it's within our own time. There are allusions to reality television and while R wonders what humanity must have been like before the plague, there are images of people absorbed in their cell phones or media devices and not truly engaging with each other. That's all that R wants -- to engage -- and he spends the movie figuring out how to do that.

Nicholas Hoult is R. I think that he did a great job with capturing Marion's character. I liked Corddry as M. There are subtle changes to the character from the book, but I think that they definitely work. Teresa Palmer was very good as Julie. You have no idea how glad I am that she didn't end up playing her like Bella Swan (this is a Summit Entertainment film, after all). But she did a great job at capturing the horror that Julie must have felt when being "rescued" by R after her scavenging party was attacked by zombies. Don't worry, no zombies sparkle. In fact, quite the opposite. The zombie makeup was excellent and there was a big difference between the "corpses" (or "fleshies" as they're also known) and the "boneys" which seem to be the superior form of zombie, what everyone ends up becoming some day.

There were some fairly significant changes that were made to the story, but without spoiling either the book or the movie in this review, I won't include them. Perhaps I'll do a post like I did with The Hunger Games last year in a week or so when everyone has had a chance to see the movie. One change that I liked was with the soundtrack. The vinyl records that R collected and stored in his airplane home were very diverse and a lot different than the records that he played in the book. A movie has to have a soundtrack and the songs that were chosen really do fit the story as a whole.

One thing that bothered me about the movie is how under-utilized Rob Corddry and John Malkovich really were. I expected M to really be the foil to R, but we really didn't see him that much. He did pop up in several key moments, but he seemed so secondary. Likewise with Malkovich's character Grigio. I was very disappointed by the turn that was taken with Malkovich and I know that people were expecting him to be very integral to the movie, but... he just wasn't. Nora (Analeigh Tipton) was a great character and I liked the way that Tipton played her. There were some very funny lines by both Corddry and Tipton as their characters were definitely supposed to be the comic relief to the pretty serious issues that R and Julie are facing. The parts with Dave Franco were very well done and really quite nice when compared with the character in the book.

Warm Bodies was a great movie adaptation of a wonderful book. The story even has some nods to a certain play by William Shakespeare about star-crossed lovers, which really makes sense when you think about it. See if you can spot the allusions within the movie (and the book, if you read it).

Did you see Warm Bodies? Let me know what you think! Do you like this take on the zombie romance?

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