Monday, February 4, 2013

Film Review: Jonathan Levine's Warm Bodies

The undead are quite hip these days.  Between The Walking Dead on TV and a slew of video games and comics on the subject, zombies are the thing.  I know, I proudly call myself an Undead Head.  So why not try your hand at a zombie rom com - a zom com if you will.  Such an undertaking is a slippery slope however.  One wants to make humour out of the zombie apocalypse, aimed at a relatively younger audience, but not so young that you delve into the tweeny Twilight territory that such an endeavor could easily find itself lost within.  What writer/director Jonathan Levine manages to do with the material - based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion - is to create a (pun very much intended) living, breathing zombie movie that not only pokes fun at the genre, but also acts as a loving homage to said genre.  A biting (yes, pun intended once again) fun-loving deconstruction of both zombie films and romantic comedies.  All-in-all, Warm Bodies is a surprisingly spry and humourous tale.

Warm Bodies, both book and movie, also takes a stab at being an updated, post-zombie apocalyptic rendition of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with the story of Julie, one of the survivalists living in a walled-in city, away from the walking dead, and one of those very same dead, named R by Julie, who saves her from harm, and hides her away in his airplane hideaway.  A story of star-crossed lovers, one of whom happens to be a brain-eating undead kid who could be shot in the head at any moment by Julie's dad, who just so happens to be the head of the survivalist city.  Meanwhile, all of R's "friends" just see Julie as their next meal.  See, Romeo and Juliet...with a twist.  However, the crux of this post-modern Romeo and Juliet tale is not how these two warring "families" do not get along, but how they can come together.  When R rescues Julie from marauding undead - corpses they are fondly nicknamed by the survivors - something in him begins to be reborn.  Slowly this happens to most of the so-called zombies, including M (I am guessing, standing for Mercutio), and hope for the human race begins to spark.  Of course, Julie's dad still wants to shoot R in the head.

Actually, the film is quite enjoyable.  Playing with the genre - we are even given a wry joke about the typical musical montage - the director (the equally wry 50/50) gives us a loving tribute to the rom com, while birthing a whole new sub genre, the aforementioned zom rom com.  And no, I cannot take credit for coming up with that one, but I'll use it to death anyway.  But I digress.  The film stars Nicholas Hault (you know, the boy from About a Boy, as well as Beast from the revamped X-Men, and the title character from the upcoming Jack, The Giant Slayer) as the intrepid R, and Theresa Palmer (the Sorcerer's Apprentice's girlfriend and the requisite hottie kick ass alien sidekick in I am Number Four - she was Number Six), and both do a fine job with the roles.  Why John Malkovich appears as Julie's dad, I do not know.  The role is rather lackluster, and anyone really could have played such a role.  I don't think we needed Malkovich, or if we did, we could have at least given him something more interesting to do.  Anyway, in sum, Warm Bodies, holds its own in the genre.  It may not have the satiric wit of its closest genre brethren, Zombieland, and never even comes close to the biting wit of its own godfather, Shaun of the Dead, but it definitely ain't that bad.

1 comment:

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