Warm Bodies – 1 star
An ingenious concept undone by a tedious pace, a dull heroine, an indecisive tone, and a cheezy feel.
First, the concept. The world is post-apocalyptic and zombies mill about, waiting to eat human brains. One twist – when they eat the brains, they get a rush of the memories of the prior owner. Our protagonist. Nicolas Hoult (About a Boy, X-Men: First Class) eats the brains of Dave Franco (brother to James), fiance’ to Teresa Palmer, and immediately falls in love with Palmer. So, he saves Palmer’s life and an unlikely romance ensues. So far, so good.
Palmer, clearly an acolyte of the Kristen Stewart school of acting, makes no impression. She’s all smarm and attitude and lacks any depth necessary for material deeper than Glee. It may seem like niggling but it is not, because she has to convey that she has fallen for a zombie. She doesn’t come close.
With Palmer failing to communicate a romance, what is left is the scary. It is not scary, at all, and the use of CGI skeletors – really evil zombies who have lost all their flesh – suggests the old stop motion visual effects of the Harry Hamlin Clash of the Titans – and not in a good way.
Since it is not scary, it should be funny. After all, talk about your clash of cultures. But it is only occasionally amusing. Hoult, whose speaking is necessarily rudimentary, mainly mumbles and moons at Palmer. While he is given a voiceover to explain what he feels and sees, the observances are pedestrian.
The picture looks just awful – again, not in a good way. The post-apocalyptic world looks more like a Meadowlands dump, the encampment where the humans are holding out looks like the porn set of a parody (Dawn of the Head? apologies)*, and in comparison to Zombieland or even The Walking Dead, the feel just seems chintzy.
It’s also deathly slow. At only 90 minutes, I started to feel like the zombies themselves, numb and mindlessly staring at the TV, waiting desperately for something to chew on.
* I made that up, but I shouldn’t have had to.