The 400-Word Review: Warm Bodies
By Sean Collier
February 1, 2013
I don’t know if you’ve been to a Barnes & Noble lately, but let me fill you in on a sign of the impending apocalypse: There’s a whole shelf under the heading “Teen Paranormal Romance”.
Yes, other sections have titles like “Science Fiction”, “Sports” and “History”. On equal footing, in the eyes of the bookseller chain, is a category that didn’t exist about ten years ago. There are a lot of people writing a lot of books about a lot of girls falling in love with a lot of ghouls, and a lot of people are reading them.
You didn’t think that Twilight was the only time we’d have to reckon with this phenomenon on the big screen, did you?
Warm Bodies, based on the Teen Paranormal Romance by Isaac Marion, attempts to capture the hearts and minds of detoxing Twi-hards this month, and the big twist is simply this: zombies. The rest of the Twilight trappings are there. This extends to our lead, the reasonably talented Teresa Palmer, who just happens to be the most Kristen Stewart-lookin’ actress outside of the genuine article — and, for that matter, our hunky zombie Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy), who just happens to look like Robert Pattinson’s less thoughtful younger brother.
Warm Bodies is marketed as a comedy, and there are a few laughs scattered throughout. Some come from Rob Corddry as a sympathetic undead; others arise from zombie jokes warmed over from Shaun of the Dead. The only truly refreshing moments come courtesy of Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love), who should have better things to do. In reality, it’s a ho-hum romance (note that the names given our leads are “R” and “Julie”) with brief action sequences pitting one group of ghastly creatures against another, without ever really justifying the feud. The humans are inevitably caught in between, and brief drama arises in “Walking Dead”-esque scenarios.
It adds up to a feeble attempt to make a pleasant movie that’ll fire on all cylinders — light action, light drama, light comedy, light romance — while following an established money-making mold.
The problem? You can’t get very far aping a film series that wasn’t any good to begin with, and Warm Bodies is about five years too late to get swept up in a phenomenon that’s already waning. Filmmakers will have to head back to the bookstore — there’s plenty to choose from.