Rating: PG-13 (Zombie violence and some adult language)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry
Another zombie film has hit the theaters, which means a day pass for yours truly to get out of the Zombie Survival Crew command center’s detention room for a couple hours. What is the latest zombie flick to hit the big screen? An adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel Warm Bodies.
Boy meets girl. Boy eats girl’s boyfriend’s brain and absorbs his memories. Boy falls in love with girl and saves her from having her entrails spread over the ground. Girl begs her hard-ass father not to kill her undead love. Sounds romantic, huh? Not if you care about a little thing called necrophilia.
I had a hard time with the premise of Warm Bodies from the start. Not just because of my standing as one of the shambling undead. Zombies are, and have been for decades, soulless reanimated corpses who only want one thing—to feast on the flesh of the living. Going into the theater (hidden under a large Hello Kitty blanket), I knew I wasn’t the target audience for the film. The previews and trailers showed fresh-faced kids traversing the zombie apocalypse and surviving on the strength of their love. Call me jaded, but a gun goes a lot further to keep one safe from being eaten than doe-eyed heroic zombies.
The saving grace for the film is the smart, witty performance from Nicholas Hoult. He took what could have been dead (no pun intended) jokes and made them work with a well-timed glance or shrug. His counterpart, Teresa Palmer, started out the film strong-willed and capable of defending herself, however, as the movie progressed she became whiny, cried more than should be allowed in a zombie movie—even one billed as a teenage chick-flick—and could not keep up with the performance of her co-star. The production company did their best to make Palmer into a blonde Kristin Stewart—which is no surprise since the distributor for the film is responsible for releasing Twilight. Is it too much to ask for a young actress to thrive on her own merits? In a time when Hollywood is all about chasing trends and beating them over the head until their brains ooze across the floor . . . no. The film’s producers wanted a young woman with looks similar to someone who has been proven popular and shoved her in a role written to be dependent on a boy. And when things get too rough for her, she breaks down, cries, and then does some of the stupidest things ever witnessed in a post-apocalyptic film.
Congratulations, you replaced sparkly vampires with shambling corpses. Or did they?
The undead in Warm Bodies are vastly different from traditional zombies. The corpses, as they’re called, retain more of their humanity and are capable of minimal speech. They also move far too fluidly to be truly dead. The minimalistic effects makeup on the corpses made it difficult to tell who was dead and who was alive. I’m not saying they needed to have huge chunks of flesh falling off, but something more than pale skin and visible veins would have been nice. Again, the corpses were awfully similar to vampires.
Warm Bodies was fun to watch for the humor—most of it from R, the main corpse character. There are some cringe-worthy performances; a lot of repeated and unnecessary lines, and John Malkovich’s normal brilliance is buried under teen angst and daddy issues. As one of my undead companions said, it is a chick-flick worthy of a night-in with friends and your beverage of choice.
Overall, I’m going to give Warm Bodies three and a half gnawed-off fingers out of five. It had potential, but fell flat under the pressure to fit the current the teen movie trend of cute and heart-warming monsters instead of standing on its own merits.
I’d like to give a shout out to the Fresno Zombie Society for inviting me out to hang with them for the film’s screening. You guys sure know how to make sure a dead guy has a fun night out.
Rating: Unrated (intense violence, disturbing images, and adult language)
Even zombies get the holidays off, apparently. I even received some gifts from the fat guy in a red suit. Unfortunately most of what he gave me consisted of more movies to review. Nice going, Santa. You’re on their side, I know it. Once the holidays were over, I picked a flick at random and ended up watching Colin.
In the early days of the Zombiepocalypse, Colin is attacked and infected. After his death and revival, he ventures out into a city both generous in meals yet dangerous for the undead. Humans—zombie slayers—do their best to keep Colin and his kind down for the final count, his sister amongst them. Will she save him or join him?
Sounds awesome, right? It would have been had the plot not taken until an hour into the movie to actually manifest. Most of the footage ended up being random shots designed to show off special FX makeup skills. While I admit the gore was fun to watch, it would have been even more enjoyable if I could make sense of what was happening. Hardly any of the characters talked. Not just because they’re zombies. The few humans in the film uttered all of two lines each. By forty-five minutes in I realized all the thought and prep work went into the zombie attacks and makeup, with little thought left for an actual script.
There were a few bits that were enjoyable. Colin’s first fight sequence proves that not everyone has a knack for fighting. He must have tried to jab a pairing knife into that zombie’s skull about fifteen times before finally accidentally hitting a spot soft enough to do any damage to the thing’s brain. Why can’t more zombie slayers be this bumbling? I wouldn’t be locked up watching these movies, then.
I know that the filmmakers were trying to make the zombies sympathetic. It only worked in the case of Colin, and even then not very well. The humans in contrast with the undead were too stupid to survive. There wasn’t a challenge for them until towards the end. Even then the zombies took out half the humans that attacked them. Next time these folks want to make a movie, I’d suggest more time on the plot, less time playing with blood. You would have had something here with more thought put in.
I give Colin two-and-a-half diseased brains out of five.
There comes a point where you judge a movie by its cover… and fail miserably—complete with flailing arms and desperate cries of agony. No, the cries weren’t from victims of a zombie attack on the screen. It was me. Crying and beating against the door of my cell. Lets just get this review of DIE-ner over with, shall we?
Here’s the story we were promised: A serial killer hitches a ride to a failing diner in the middle of nowhere. Realizing the opportunity handed him when the place is nearly deserted, he kills the minimal staff and sets up his own sort of murderer’s paradise. That is, until his victims start coming back to life with a hunger for flesh.
What came across felt, for the most part, like a string of bad auditions. There was even the bad audio where one actor could be heard clearly while the other’s performance sounded muffled as they stood behind the camera. Top that off with plain ol’ bad acting and five minutes in I wished for someone to come put me out of my misery. Only one actor, the guy playing the witless sheriff, seemed to be trying to do his part with any believability.
Normally I’d say, well… if the acting sucks and the script isn’t worth a damn, lets see how the makeup effects hold up. These too were disappointing. Protip for wannabe filmmakers: fake blood from the Halloween store looks awful on screen. Opt for a higher quality “Stage Blood” or make your own. A gallon of homemade blood is cheap and doesn’t look like you dipped your actors in red food coloring, then left them to dry in the sun.
This is one of those movies where everyone, even the zombies are Too Stupid To Live. That does not make for entertaining viewing. And where I’d normally try to find something nice to say, I can’t in this case. Oh wait; there was lots of duct tape. Everyone likes duct tape, right?
DIE-ner is bad heaped on bad, topped with bad. I give it one-and-a-half severed feet out of five. Save yourself the misery and avoid this film.