Saturday, February 2, 2013
'WARM BODIES' is a Clever Twist on the Popular Love Story Between Human and Undead [REVIEW]
You can blame Buffy, The Vampire Slayer for our love affair with the human/undead romance. The idea of a warm-blooded living being locking lips with a scary pale supernatural being is so unbelievable that you can't take your eyes away from it. But the impossibility of this dynamic somehow worked, even to this day (example: every single Twilight movie).
And up until now this flirtation has mostly played to the favor of the woman, with the narrative primarily revolving around her story. That is, until writer/director Jonathan Levine (5/50) flipped the script with WARM BODIES.
Levine, who's spent the last few years earning his cred with films like 2008's The Wackness, proves his staying power with a wickedly funny yet sensitive adaptation of Isaac Marion's 2011 novel about a young man (Nicholas Hoult) known as "R" trapped in the decaying body of a zombie. He spends most his days in the confines of an abandoned airport with a multitude of other ghouls, grunting wordless conversations with them and schlepping along with cinder blocks for legs.
The hours treading through the hangar, witnessing the remains of other lives frozen in time and dodging the Bonies (antagonistic skeleton-like beings) have all but blended together for R. Hoult's witty and disarming narration throughout the movie, especially in the opening scenes, makes it easy for you to sympathize with his lonely and seemingly never-ending predicament. His realization of the banality that has become his life, and his ability to find humor in it, is wildly entertaining to watch.
And until he happens to meet Julie (Teresa Palmer), daughter of a hard core zombie resistance fighter played by John Malkovitch, he had grown accustomed to having an impending expiration date. It is that moment, when he is so taken by her beauty that he protects her from a zombie takeover, that the Buffy dialogue gets kicked into high gear--the conflicted romance between the two and the melodrama of their situation in the heart of a true zombieapocalypse. But rather than making their absurd love be the central plot driver (something which has been played in the movies to no end), WARM BODIES pits them right in the middle of a real revolution, which changes the disposition of each character and propels the film to something much deeper than an unorthodox love story. It becomes a movement that is merely sponsored by this courtship.
Tying in nicely with R's self-deprecating humor is the movie's ability to even makes fun of itself. Not in an Easy A obvious type of way, but rather it employs authentic colloquy, for instance, between the young heroines (Palmer and Analeigh Tipton, who plays her BFF) that you can actually believe could transpire between the two in this outrageous predicament. Why bother to keep gorgeous makeup when your chances of going out on a date in the middle of a supernatural catastrophe are slim to none? How can you convince your friend--and the audience--to get on board with this strange relationship long enough to champion it?
With Levine's near flawless screenplay and spectacularly painted scenes, an awesomely nostalgic soundtrack, and Hoult's perfect performance of a young man desperate for human interaction, WARM BODIES is simply the first must-see movie of 2013. Bank on that.