Movie Review: Warm Bodies (2013)
Warm Bodies is a film designed to cure us of the zombie/vampire fantasy rut we’ve recently fallen into with Hollywood’s recent offerings (looking at you Twilight). Regrettably its execution ends up as half-baked as the rest, despite an excellent initial premise. Nicholas Hoult stars as R, an unhappy young zombie who is capable of conscious thought and feelings, most of which he acquires through eating the brains of the recently deceased.
The film goes downhill from here however, quickly setting a wishy-washy tone of love cures all which would be fine if it had a little more to offer besides this. Isaac Marion’s story is a rehashing of Romeo and Juliet for the technology addicted new generation and whilst it took me longer than it should have to realise (I clicked at the balcony scene. Yes, there’s a balcony scene) I really wish it wasn’t and is frankly the primary reason Warm Bodies fails. Given a little more originality and less reliance on clichés and tropes this film could have proved truly enjoyable and made much more of an impact than it did.
In terms of acting, there’s relatively little to be said, being a zombie movie and all. Hoult spends much of his time shuffling and grunting about the screen, however he does have moments of inconsistency where he’s not quite sure of the degree to which he should be grunting and even the accent in which he should be speaking. Co-star Teresa Palmer is the low budget Kristen Stewart lookalike that plays love interest Julie who proves to be pretty unlikeable on the whole coming across as self-possessed and annoying, but that may be down to the character and not a judgment on her acting. Rob Corddry is criminally underused in this picture, his trademark wit being constrained by the fact he’s playing a zombie. That said he still manages to provide some of the few genuine laughs in great style. John Malkovich also fails to get nearly as much screen time as he deserves, providing a solid performance as Julie’s father and leader of the last men.
The soundtrack to Warm Bodies is fantastic, but heavily over-used and mixed so loud you can’t really tell much of what else is going on. It seems every other scene is a faux inspirational montage between R and Julie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when my favourite songs pop up in movies but the way in which they are used in this seems to cheapen the effect somewhat. There’s a musical montage for every emotion, be it Springsteen, Bob Dylan or Bon Iver.
What starts out as brilliantly witty with a fascinating concept, quickly gives way to the same old spiel with more music than script. Whilst not completely unentertaining, Warm Bodies fails to come to life in a meaningful way, trying to master many things but accomplishing few of them.