Written and Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton and John Malkovich
97 Minutes, 2013
Last Wednesday I attended an advance screening of Warm Bodies. When I got the tickets in the mail I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about this film. I am not a huge fan of the Zombie film and felt like I had seen enough Zombie films of late. As far as Zombie comedies go, Zombieland (2009) was amusing but it didn’t feel like anything new or even particularly memorable. The only Zombie comedy that I have enjoyed up until Warm Bodies was Fido (2006). This was because they took the Zombie film in a direction that I hadn’t seen before. Fido was about a boy and his domesticated pet Zombie Fido (played by Billy Connolly). It was a very funny film for what it was but in the end like Zombieland, Fido was a broad comedy. It is a very funny movie that works really well for what it is, but there was not a lot to the film. Warm Bodies on the other hand exceeded my expectations for the genre they were working within.
Warm Bodies exceeded my expectations not only as a unique premise, but more than that, there is a surprising amount of emotional depth to the characters and humour. Jonathan Levine (who also directed 50\50) has created something deeper than your standard horror/romance/comedy. There is a high level of intelligence and sophistication that he has brought to this film. Hoult and Palmer have great chemistry and from the first time that Hoult’s character R sees her the spark of humanity ignited in her presence is a brilliant example of the emotional range of Nicholas Hoult who spends most of the film grunting and growling.
The standout for me was Rob Corddry who is one of the better comedic actors of the moment. Where Corddry generally plays Jerks, and brilliantly so, as seen in Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), Harold and Kumar: Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) and his recurring role in Community. In Warm Bodies, Corddry brings a sense of humanity to his Zombie character. Corddry, Hoult and the rest of the cast push the film beyond a broad comedy made for general entertainment with little point to actually having something to say about the state of humanity and how objectification is perhaps the most dehumanizing thing one can do to an other. On the other hand, if you are only looking for escapism, Warm Bodies could easily be enjoyed as a standard comedy or romance. This is perhaps why the film works so well.
One of the requirements of a good genre film is that the stories and characters should not be dependent on the genre conventions. The genre is just a framing device. In my opinion, it happens too often where characters are written to fit the story. A good example would be The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). When you see the story developing out of the characters as seen in Warm Bodies, this to me is when you know you are watching something special. You can sense that a lot of time and effort has gone into making the characters as believable and honest as possible. Warm Bodies fits this criterion better than most genre films. What was also refreshing about Warm Bodies was that it felt like a complete film. By the end of the film I didn’t feel like I was watching (what I call) a ‘Franchise Starter’. This is something that continually grates on my nerves in mainstream films. Warm Bodies is a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end. It is well told and unlike any Zombie film that I have seen. Warm Bodies could well be regarded in time as a film that redefines the horror comedy genre in that it moves against the tide of current conventions.
Warm Bodies opens in Australia on April 11, 2013. I highly recommend seeing this in the cinemas, as we need more original films with something to say as opposed to broad, generalized entertainment, reboots and franchises.
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