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“Warm Bodies” leads in the box office, but lacks heart

John Malkovich joins Hoult and Palmer behind the scenes of "Warm Bodies." (MCT CAMPUS)
John Malkovich joins Hoult and Palmer behind the scenes of “Warm Bodies.” (MCT CAMPUS)

Is it a relief that vampires and werewolves are not in constant demand for fantasy in pop culture anymore? Depends on your preference, but most people are probably pretty sad.

When the “Twilight” franchise became a smashing success, vampires were in demand on television, in books and in more movies. But with “Twilight” finally put to rest, what is the new creature to run fantasy film? It is still the undead, believe it or not.

Zombies are the new craving in pop culture. They dominate the media landscape with television, books and new movies, but pure zombie-survival movies will eventually bore the public. There has to be a game changing zombie movie.

The zombies have changed, the settings have changed but the genre itself has not been touched. Zombies are supposed to be scary, but writer-director Jonathan Levine (“50/50”) believes that zombies can have a heart, a soul and maybe even a crush. While the end-product of that vision, “Warm Bodies,” is an interesting concept, the film just doesn’t get off the ground. “Warm Bodies” skids for its 97-minute duration without any sparks in romance, great action or memorable moments.

The film centers on R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie wandering around the ruins of an airport eight years after an outbreak of the undead.

He questions his purpose in life now that his diet consists of human flesh and wonders what his pre-outbreak life, which he has no recollection of, was like.

On a trek through the city, he and his undead brethren come across a group of human scavengers. R and his group instinctively attack, though R is conflicted about it. When R sees Julie (Teresa Palmer), a furious, shotgun-wielding blonde, he is smitten and feels he can win her over despite having just eaten the brains of her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco).

He keeps her safe in an old airplane as they listen to old records and marvel at R’s collection of trinkets. R continues to eat Perry’s brain to gain flashes of Perry’s memories. R claims that this extreme method serves a double purpose. It keeps Perry from resurrecting as a zombie, and the brain provides R his only taste of memories.

Julie knows that R is different and starts to have feelings for him as his speech, walk and body temperature change. R’s change of heart spreads to other zombies, and Julie begins warming up to the idea that the undead and the living can coexist.

What is not possible is a unity between the good intentions of Levine and a believable story.

Levine distracts the viewers from the point he is trying to make by punching too many holes in the zombie format. In the film, zombies can talk (however slowly), drive and think.

Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer never show any chemistry, but that could be because it is hard for a zombie to be charming toward a woman, and vice-versa. It’s easy to make comparisons between Edward and Bella of “Twilight” and R and Julie of “Warm Bodies;” both franchises feature a chance meeting between a pale, undead boy and an awkward, sheltered girl. Palmer is actually much more appealing as Julie than Kristen Stewart was as Bella, but Hoult does not offer the mystique that Robert Pattinson’s Edward gave off.

Not even R’s inner monologues during the film make him interesting. The fault is primarily on Levine, whose script goes downhill from a promising beginning. He compares the lifeless zombies in the airport to the humans, glued to their phones and ignoring connection with each other.

From there, “Warm Bodies” becomes really boring and disappointing.

Levine also loses points for misusing and restraining great actors like Rob Corddry (R’s friend M) and John Malkovich (Julie’s father). The two fall to wayside as Hoult and Palmer take center stage. M is used primarily as a zombie liason, and Malkovich spends what seems like a mere five minutes in the movie at the very end.

“Warm Bodies” was made to move beyond standard fantasy romance tropes such as vampires and werewolves. On Valentine’s Day, witches will be given the same opportunity in the upcoming “Beautiful Creatures.”

Like “Warm Bodies,” the film’s focus will be on aesthetics rather than on story or development. Although “Warm Bodies” was based on a novel by Isaac Marion, Levine could have done so much more with this movie.

As a zombie movie and a romantic comedy, “Warm Bodies” cannot be taken seriously. It may have been an interesting, unique concept, but it turned out to be a cold-hearted disappointment.

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    Lilian VargasFeb 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    This is absolutely false he gave off a complete spark and i find this movie to be far more interesting then twilight has been or will ever be.

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