Film Review : Warm Bodies
● By Justin Buettner
R, a twenty something old Zombie falls in love with Julie, a human from a group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse. R saves Julie and hides her in his secret airplane home and as their relationship grows R finds himself slowly coming back to life. Will Julie’s military father or the hoard of raging zombies accept that zombies can change back into people?
There are several creative story angles and concepts in Warm Bodies, but it’s frustrating that it was a movie content with being a romantic comedy rather than take risks. Even worse there are a lot of instances when the movie does not trust the audience to draw basic conclusions so it adds an odd effect or line of exposition that really doesn’t belong in the movie. This includes the special effect of the hearts beating again in the zombies, it just wasn’t needed as I already understood what was happening. The ending drew to a fairly predictable close and to be honest I just didn’t buy it. It felt like a peace loving hippie was brought in via time machine to write the end to this zombie movie. All that was missing was the song “Give Peace a Chance”. It was rather odd to say the least.
The strength of the movie was the performance from the two leads, Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer. They had decent chemistry and managed to develop a connection despite a fairly terrible script. As strong as the performances were the writing was awful. Jonathan Levine, the writer and director of Warm Bodies, is a far better director than a writer. In fact I think Levine is a terrific director as his prior film 50/50 was one of the best movies of 2011. Levine as a writer uses too much voice over (which I hate) and glossed over what should have been the strongest part of the movie with a weak aimless barely functional falling in love montage. Using weak devices such as montages and voice-overs should be left to soap operas, and when they are done poorly, as they are in this film, it really speaks down to the audience.
I was also not a fan of how the Warm Bodies pulled its punches. There were a lot of creative opportunities left untaken as the movie played it safe. I loved the idea that zombies ate brains because they also ingested the emotion, memories, and feelings of the brain. There was a lot of different places the movie could have taken that story angle but it seemed to just let it pass. I also did not like that the Zombies all seemed to learn to speak conveniently at the right times. Every conflict came to a far too simple conclusion. Especially the relationship between R and Julie, it lacked the appropriate amount of tension. Special care was taken to not make the hero zombies too gory and awful, which was probably smart, but I still would have liked to have seen a bit more edge to the zombies make up and behavior. The bad zombies were all CGI, and stood out like a sore thumb. They looked and felt fake, in turn making them non-threatening and not very scary.
Warm Bodies was one of those movies that just frustrated me because it oozed with the potential to be something really special. If the filmmakers had just been a bit more brave and taken chances with the story and the characters it could have been a one of a kind film. By taking the safest route possible the movie felt rather bland and unexciting for me. Of course the filmmakers were clearly aiming for the “Twilight” fan female crowd and I can confidently say that Warm Bodies far exceeds anything the Twilight series had to offer. Perhaps this movie fell victim to my own set of elevated expectations, I just wished it had aspired to be more than it was.
Films like Warm Bodies : Twilight, Let Me In, and Zombieland
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.