Warm Bodies [Blu-Ray]

Directed by Jonathan Levine

> > Jun 14 2013

Warm Bodies [Blu-Ray] - Directed by Jonathan Levine
By Robert BellIf Romeo was a Communist zombie, Juliet a Capitalist human, William Shakespeare conscious of the modern political (and past German) climate, and had seen Andrew Niccol's competent sci-fi effort In Time, Romeo & Juliet might have turned out somewhat like Warm Bodies. It's all a bit much for a single, mostly standard issue narrative — politics, romance, horror, economics and literary references — but it is, at least, an educated and culturally conscious text that very much deviates from the source novel by Isaac Marion. Introspective zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) — the "R" being likely the letter his living name started with — mopes around an airport, reflecting on the mundanity of life as a collective of mindless drones, desperately and relentlessly feeding on flesh or, metaphorically, life, passion and intellect. His disposition is presented affably, in concise, self-conscious voiceover, just as the world— one where the living are separated from the dead by a giant wall and ravenous skeletons represent an inevitable animalistic end to zombie "life" — is clear and accessible. When he eventually meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), a narrative stereotype and the daughter of the central human military leader (John Malkovich), his ability to appreciate love (or at least lust) is believable, especially once the key plot device — an ability to absorb someone's memories after eating their brain — gives him the perspective of her dead boyfriend, Perry (Dave Franco). This also allows flashbacks to add a bit of heart to the human plight, showing Julie and Perry training for the military and falling in love, selling R's transformation from zombie to warm human in a way the overly sentimental and bland meeting of his grunts with her blank affection cannot. And while the unlikely bond between R and Julie inspires change in the legion of zombies, reigniting passion from behind the iron curtain, it doesn't inspire much in the audience. This is in part because the presentation of undead language and communication has its own implicit limitations, but it's also largely because R is the only character given any sort of complexity. Similarly, Jonathan Levine's direction never finds the balance between romance, horror and expressionism, occasionally catching on to touching sentiment, fear or didactics, only to fall short. It makes for a great deal of unfulfilled potential in a film that eventually reduces itself to a musical makeover montage at one point, when Julie and her best friend (Analeigh Tipton) try to make-up R like a human being. Warm Bodies has way too many genres, tones, styles and political pleas for any of it to work effectively. The abundance of supplemental materials on the Blu-Ray, discussing make-up, casting, adaptation and locations, communicates the excitement of those involved with the project, but also indirectly reveals just how and where this lack of focus might have come from. Unfortunately, conceiving of ideas and concepts and executing them are two entirely different things.
(eOne)
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