I know this movie came out five months ago as of tomorrow, but before my first half of the year wrap-up, which will be published sometime between July 5 and July 12, I figured that I would visit some of the films that I hadn't seen yet at home and see what I thought of them. One of those films was Johnathan Levine's hit Warm Bodies. A lot of people liked this film when it came, including a lot of people that I knew. I missed it in theaters and on short notice, rented it on Time Warner Cable's crappy on-demand service. Safe to say that I don't quite agree with everyone else.
Warm Bodies is the story of R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie who wanders aimlessly around an airport after the zombie apocalypse strikes the world. Julie (Teresa Palmer) is a sort of zombie hunter; her father (John Malkovich) is the leader of the human resistance. When Julie and her friends Nora (Analeigh Tipton) and Perry (Dave Franco) head to a facility to get medicine, R and a horde of corpses show up and eat most of the people except for Julie, who R saves. The two fall and love and we have our movie.
I don't really have much positive to say about this film. I thought that it was really passable, not necessarily bad, but just not really worthy of your time. However, there were a few things that I did like. Despite my love for World War Z, that movie is very serious. Warm Bodies is actually serious most of the time, which really annoyed me. But when it touches on this nice, light, comic tone, it's a pleasure to watch. The opening scene of this movie is both good and terrible (for a petty reason that the opening credits go on forever). It opens with a funny, satirical scene of zombies just walking around the airport, and it is funny for reasons that I can't really explain. And when the movie is a comedy in the vein of Shaun of the Dead, it is funny. But when it is Twilight, it is not.
The leads have decent chemistry. Teresa Palmer gives a solid performance and Nicholas Hoult does the best he can do with inaudible grunting. But their romance is really underdeveloped and there is about an hour of the movie where it seems that the plot goes nowhere. It isn't until the last ten minutes that everything kind of picks up, with the movie scrambling to wrap things up. The last few minutes are a nice wrap-up and I think that a sequel would be funny to see, but the rest of the film is such an ignorant mess. When it isn't wrapping things up or setting things up, it's a pretty poor film. It takes itself too seriously and has major tonal issues.
The main problem with the movie is that it isn't sure whether or not it wants to be Twilight or if it wants to be Zombieland. It just can't decide and that was a big problem for me. I can deal with plot holes and I can deal with some stupidity, but if you don't find a nice balance of drama and comedy, you fail in my eyes. I didn't think that Warm Bodies found that balance. There would be a nice scene that was funny and started to develop a relationship between Julie and R that was believable, and then the next scene would try to do a Twilight mimic.
In addition, the zombies in most horror films are not the protagonists of the story. In Warm Bodies, they are, which in some ways is a nice cinematic risk, but in some ways frustrated me to death. The dialogue by all the zombies was barely audible and it just annoyed me. It seemed like the filmmakers just told Nicholas Hoult and Rob Coddry (who plays his friend M) to go on screen and just grunt. Just grunt. It just frustrated me.
The plot just goes in circles for about 55% of the film and doesn't really build anything up. It isn't until the last twenty or so minutes that the film realizes that it has a story to wrap up. If the film was funny during that time in the middle, it wouldn't be such a problem. But it isn't. It's drab, and depressing at times and just not much fun.
When it boils down to it, you need to believe the love story to like a romance film. I didn't believe the romance in Warm Bodies. It's a film that tries to be a zombie film that tries to be one that everyone can enjoy but it still ends up being a Harlequin romance that only die hard fans can enjoy. The leads have chemistry but the script, despite its occasional cleverness, lets them down.
Warm Bodies is a disappointing film in my eyes that only provided me with scarce amounts of enjoyment. If you're a fan of books like Twilight, odds are that you will like this movie. If you are a fan of zombies, go with World War Z or rewatch the latest season of The Walking Dead. Warm Bodies never fully commits to anything; it never knows what it wants to be or the story that it wants to tell. Everything in this film was just too messy for me to give it a recommendation.
THE FINAL GRADE: C- (4.9/10)