Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Warm Bodies

Jonathan (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) Levine’s Warm Bodies is based on a Young Adult novel. Who the hell cares? If you write this flick off as tweeny bopper Twilight fare, you will be missing out on one hell of a movie. This is not a send up. This is not some watered-down zombie version of The Notebook. Whatever misconception you probably have, this is not it. Bodies, like Shaun of the Dead, is a Zom-Rom-Com with a very beating heart.
Nicholas (About a Boy) Hoult stars as R, a Corpse that wants to do more than just mill around an old airport, eating brains. R’s narration is a key source for the comedy as well. Without being a parody, he touches on all the normal traits of a zombie film. He has no idea what happened, what caused this apocalypse or why he is what he is. He shares meaningful grunts and awkward stares with his “best friend” zombie Rob (Hot Tub Time Machine) Cordry. He explains why they roam around in packs (everyone and their grandmother is always trying to shoot them in the head) and he is fully aware of how ridiculously long it’s going to take their horde to get anywhere, rambling as slow as they do.

The humans, Theresa (Take Me Home Tonight) Palmer, Dave (James’ brother) Franco, Analeigh (America’s Next Top Model) Tipton and John (duh, he’s John Malkovich) Malkovich, are all excellent in their roles as well, living behind their Escape from New York style wall, venturing out only for supplies. It’s on one of these supply runs that R encounters Julie (Palmer). Get it. R. Julie. Romeo and Juliet. Cliché maybe, but don’t worry about that. It’s not very heavy handed, and takes nothing away, in my opinion.

R is instantly under Julie’s humanly thrall, so he saves her. And takes her back to the airplane in which he 'lives'. They listen to records. Good time for a sidebar: The soundtrack is stellar. It’s a good mix of current stuff (Feist), 80s tunes (John Waite) and jams that fit their scenes perfectly (Bruce Springsteen). Since there is no officially released CD/MP3 version of the soundtrack, check out this site for a complete listing, and make your own soundtrack. It’s interesting to me that the dead guy is obsessed with a dead format. A dead format that, as of recently, is coming back to life. The living girls listen to music on their iPods.

Hoult is excellent. Aside from the narration, he has to express himself primarily with facial expressions and movement. And grunts and eventual monosyllabic speech. The entire cast, which is really only six, does a great job with their respective characters.

It’s hard to refrain from gushing, because it really has been a long time since I’ve seen a zombie film—or a romantic comedy—that I enjoyed as much as Warm Bodies. Every negative post I see online or every Facebook status update that derides this movie, assuming it’s just for the Team Edward crowd, bums me out. It’s clear Levine (and I assume novelist Isaac Marion?) really knows his undead. And loves the rotting bastards. That love is infectious. And really, infectious love is the point of this movie.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: The Victim (2011)

Michael Biehn makes his directorial debut with The Victim, in which he stars alongside his real-life wife, Jennifer (Wheel Chair girl from the “Teen Line” episode of Saved by the Bell) Blanc and her BFF Danielle (Halloween franchise) Harris. Biehn plays Kyle (Reese?), a reclusive backwoods hermit with a mysterious past. Blanc and Harris are exotic dancers, Annie and Mary, respectively, that like to party in the woods and score coke from cops. After one of the cops kills Mary, Annie flees for her life and shows up banging on Kyle’s door (too bad he did not say “Come with me if you want live” when he opens the door, right!) From there the two talk, argue, sex, hatch plans, fight cops, run around, and everything else that one might do when being chased by murderous cops in the woods.

The film is somewhat thin; there’s the Kyle/Annie versus the cops plot in the forefront, and a lot of flashback filling in gaps regarding a bunch of missing girls in the area (one of the missing girls is “played” by J.C. Brandy, who took over Harris’ Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 6). It’s enjoyable, though. Unfortunately, I think the film may have been a smidge more fun for us, having just recently met all three involved at a horror con. Jennifer Blanc, particularly, was extremely awesome and we snapped many pics of her holding our then four-month-old little boy, who she adored—which made Biehn kinda uncomfortable, I think. Heh.

The twists that are promised on the back of the DVD box don’t really ever happen, and questions are left unanswered. Watching the film, I can’t help but wonder how it all works out with a husband directing his wife in sex scenes with other dudes. Seems weird to me. And regardless of Harris’ nudity in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, it’s still a little unsettling to see little Jamie Lloyd in adult situations…and that is what most of her scenes comprise in this flick.

Despite its flaws, The Victim is certainly worth watching. It’s entertaining enough, and its evident the folks behind it put their hearts into it, which immediately sets it apart from the many DTV flicks that come out and are clear cash grabs or just simply halfheartedly produced. Now it’s time to wait for Danielle Harris’ film Among Friends, which also stars Jennifer Blanc, to hit disc or VOD.