Craig's Preview Review: "Warm Bodies"

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After a zombie becomes involved with the girlfriend of one of his victims, their romance sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world. Written and directed by Jonathan Levine, this horror comedy/romance stars Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer as a zombie and a teenage girl with whom he falls in love. Also starring Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton and John Malkovich.
1.5

Movie Review: "Warm Bodies" -

Vampires and werewolves got their sensitive, protective, Justin Bieber-like portrayal and now zombies are about to get the same with “Warm Bodies”, adapted from Isaac Marion’s young adult novel. What’s next if this does well, or even half as well as “Twilight”? Get ready Frankenstein. This boy band may need a fourth.

Nicholas Hoult may be the dreamiest, most boyish-looking zombie ever, playing R. Turned after the apocalypse, he spends most of his time shuffling around or grunting but can also play records (cause he knows they have better sound) and have a perfectly fine internal dialogue with himself (through voice over) despite being, you know, brain dead. All this gets weirder when he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer), the daughter of a militant leader (John Malkovich) who believes the only good zombie is a dead zombie.

R has just killed and eaten the brains of her boyfriend (Dave Franco), which allows him to feel the emotion of love for the first time in a while. Whether this love story kicks off with R genuinely feeling something for Julie, or if he’s just reflecting the emotions of her dead boyfriend is something I still haven’t figured out. But soon they’re in his airplane loft listening to his old records, she’s teaching him how to drive (apparently zombies have decent motor skills as well) and bonding with him over feelings, which oddly enough he and his zombie friends are starting to feel.

Jonathan Levine, who proved that a movie about cancer could be cathartic as well as funny with “50-50”, can never overcome the questions in this story about love transforming death. Why does R seem more like a slow-talking pot-head than a zombie even before meeting Julie? How does Julie forgive him for killing her boyfriend so easily? This is all very confusing and Levine can do nothing with it rather than manipulate with love ballads and visual trickery (a heart miraculously just appears in R after seeing Julie for the first time). And the laughs are pretty lite (I can’t tell you how many times the “R is slow” joke is used). There’s also a big tonal shift in the end with a battle (against zombies so stripped of their humanity that they are now called Boneys) presumably to wake up anyone who has thus far hated this new twist on things undead.

Palmer looks much like Kristen Stewart, Malkovich sleep-walks through this role, and poor Rob Corddry (“The Daily Show”),playing a zombie friend of R’s, can’t do much for laughs here but at least comes up with some genuine feeling, which is more than I can say for the rest of Levine’s crew of undead.