Warm Bodies (2013)
Director: Jonathan Levine
2.5 / 5 zedheads
Let's just get the obligatory puns out of the way shall we? Warm Bodies has left me feeling cold.
As hackneyed as that sounds, it's absolutely true. Despite the work of a good cast, Warm Bodies fails to grasp and translate the heart of Isaac Marion's original story to the big screen in a big, bad way. While Marion's novel is a lively, witty, and moving romantic love story with serious post-apocalyptic zombie credentials, Jonathan Levine's adaptation is a watered-down and tepid affair with a lot less bite. Despite its title, Warm Bodies drops into theatres with the cold, dull thud of a corpse.
|Blame it on the (b)rain!|
|New girlfriends often find it hard to fit in with their boyfriend's buddies|
The script for Warm Bodies is a clunky work of exposition and tween pandering. Is it supposed to be a comedy? The jokes are inconsequential quips with the occasional visual gag. Is it supposed to be a romance? So little time is spent fleshing out Julie's life or exploring R's borrowed memories that there's absolutely no chemistry between them. It's certainly not a horror movie; most of the gore is implied and there's only one or two Boney jump scares. While Marion's novel is a tight piece of work, the movie has had so much of its heart excised to meet budgetary restrictions and to re-brand it for the Twilight tween crowd that it has turned into a superficial and meandering romance-in-name-only.
|Best Friends For (Un)Life|
Warm Bodies, the novel, is clearly a story about the importance of the younger generation finding love, hope, and empathy in a dark, ugly world where the older generation (represented by the Boneys and people like Julie's father) have given in to close-minded pessimism and rigid dogma. It's also a story about how ugly we get when we just give in to our materialistic and anti-social instincts. Yet, by making R and the rest of his zombie buddies already quite human (in both appearance and personality), the true scale and enormity of their journey from hunger-driven undead back to vibrant living people is severely muted in the movie. In the book, the Boneys constitute an upper-class of authority figures who maintain control of the zombie society, but in the movie they're relegated to the pithy role of CGI boogeymen. Likewise, Julie's father -- a more complex man in the book -- is reduced to a short hand of traits and loses all his edge as a man who has become as dead inside as the zombies he hates. In this way, the entirety of Warm Bodies seems scaled down in scope. There's less at stake, less humour, less social commentary, less romance, and it's certainly way less fun.
|Love is messy.|
My hope is that whatever success Warm Bodies finds at the box office will drive new fans to the much superior novel by Isacc Marion. If this review has put bad taste in your mouth about Warm Bodies the movie, I urge you to pick up the original novel instead (read our 5/5 zedhead review). The novel offers all the poignancy, heart, wit, and excitement that Warm Bodies promised but failed to bring to theatres.