Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Man with the Iron Fists


The main conceit behind The Man with the Iron Fists is pretty sound: make a homage to the classic Shaw Brothers martial arts films of the 70s with modern sensibilities, not unlike Kill Bill. While it never comes close to that movie’s level of awesomeness, The Man with the Iron Fists is pretty decent in its own right.

A Blacksmith (Robert Diggs aka RZA), who makes weapons for cash, finds out that his creations are being used by the Lion Clan to steal a large amount of gold from a local warlord. He teams up with the dishonored brother (Rick Yune) of the clan’s new leader (Byron Mann), the owner of a brothel (Lucy Liu) and a British soldier (Russell Crowe) to stop them as they pass through his village.
Writer/director/actor RZA has a great eye for amazing looking, and somewhat violently beautiful, shots (when Rick Yune slices up the guards and we see the blood trails curving through the air in slow motion). He managed to snag some serious talent to help him out behind-the-scenes, from Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth producing, to Cory Yuen choreographing the fight scenes and Chi Ying Chan as cinematographer (he’s shot dozens of Chinese action/martial art films). This ex-rapper knew who to pursue in order to make an authentic feeling, yet updated, old fashioned kung fu flick. He pulls it off for the most part.

However, casting himself as the main character was RZA’s fatal mistake. The dude simply cannot act, period. And to make matters worse is that he narrates the film in his usual mumbling fashion and odd ghetto lisp (“Da Chinese say ‘Where dere’s iyun dere’s wust.’”) complete with “muthafuckas” and all that. Could he even be bothered to enunciate his dialogue? Hearing him attempt and fail while speaking Cantonese made me chuckle a few times as well. He devotes a good chunk of the story’s focus to his character who isn’t interesting in the slightest. Making him an escaped slave/shaolin monk/blacksmith is a little too much to take in since he isn’t convincing in the role at all. I would have preferred to get more backstory on Russell Crowe’s and Rick Yune’s characters. And to top it all off he sucks ass during his fight scenes. He performs one move once he gets his iron arms: Block opponent’s attack with one arm, punch them in the face with the other over and over and over again. His final fight is performed by a stunt double because RZA normally moves so sluggishly that when his character goes all Fist of the North Star on Dave Bautista it’s obvious that it’s not him. He just looks out of place for the most part, and although this was released before Tarantino’s Django Unchained you know that his producer influenced the decision to include an ex-slave as the lead while writing the script. There are some similarities between the two projects that are not coincidental, I’m sure.
The rest of the cast is fine and appear to be having a blast in their roles. Russell Crowe was the last person I would ever expect to see in an old school Samurai Sunday homage, but he looks like he’s enjoying himself immensely not having to play a serious character for a change. His Jack Knife has one of the coolest weapons ever: a spinning dual layered hunting knife with a gun for a handle and a throwing spur attached to the side. Seeing it in action put a smile on my face and I want to own a replica of it asap. I don’t think I will be able to look at Crowe the same way again after seeing him give cunnilingus to an Asian hooker underwater, but I haven’t liked him in a role other than this for years so I’m willing to let it go.

Rick Yune usually plays villains (Die Another Day, Ninja Assassin, The Fast and the Furious), so seeing him playing a hero was a nice surprise. He excels at his fight scenes and turns in a nice performance as the vengeful X-Blade. On the flip side, Byron Mann (Ryu from Van Damme’s craptastic Street Fighter) usually plays heroes, so seeing him as the main villain was also a nice surprise. The problem is that he’s not menacing at all and comes off as just a skinny dude with crazy eyes that never seems to fight anyone.
Lucy Liu plays her character of Madam Blossom as a heroic variation of O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill. She treats her salesladies right and makes sure the customers are well taken care of, but when someone decides to mess with her business she takes matters into her own hands to prove that she won’t put up with a bunch of bullies lying down (pun intended). Her speech to her hookers about how men have held power for too long is well written and performed, and Liu’s fight scenes are pretty spectacular (love her Kitana inspired bladed fan).

All the co-stars, be it MMA fighter Cung Le, the beautiful and criminally underused Jamie Chung and wrestler Dave Bautista, turn in decent performances. I can’t complain at all since their characters all add to the varied looks and personalities of the cast. Seeing Pam Grier in a cameo role made my day.
The fights are the main reason to watch this movie as you probably already have guessed. Filled with off-the-wall gore and insane wire-fu, sometimes involving six or more people at once, the action scenes are truly epic and make this a must see for fans of the genre.  The last 20 minutes is a non-stop martial arts-a-thon that follows four fights at once. Well, three because I’m not counting RZA’s lame ass block/punch combo a real fight scene. Poison darts, yin/yang interlocking swords, razor sharp scarfs, clawed gloves, a dude that turns to brass and boomerang fans are some of the crazy weapons being used to battle, and aside from the one fight I mentioned earlier I enjoyed every action scene immensely. Although I will say that the CGI used to turn Dave Bautista into his Brass Body form was pretty crappy. He looks like a cartoon, or a character out of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

Now then, you can have all the fancy kung fu fights you want as long as the story is at least as fun as the action. Unfortunately that’s where the film falters. There are way too many characters to keep track of and none of them have anything to do other than randomly pick fights or kill someone for shits and giggles. Nothing of note happens for the first half of the movie, and the editing is so bad at some points that I became confused and lost a few times. How hard is it to show the person delivering a key piece of dialogue during pivotal moment of a conversation? Apparently it’s pretty damned hard since it happens more than once. Even some of the fights are choppily edited, even in the Unrated Extended Cut I saw.
As I mentioned earlier, this is like an Asian Game of Thrones. Way too many characters and each of them has a ridiculously stupid name. Brass Body, Gold Lion, Silver Lion, Copper Lion, Bronze Lion, Iron Lion, Poison Dagger, Lady Silk and more. Sure it’s harkening back to the Golden Harvest/Shaw Brothers films of way back, but it is confusing when so many characters have such similar sounding names and they are all being thrown at you in rapid fire succession. I was lost for the first half of the movie, saying to myself “Is that Brass Lion? No, it’s Bronze Lion. Brass belongs to Brass Body. Fuck metal.”

Another issue is the dialogue. Russell Crowe manages to make even the lamest line sound convincing (“For me, this business is the pleasure”), but whenever RZA speaks or narrates the awfulness of the script becomes clear (“When it comes to money, things get funny”). He gives himself all the choice moments but can’t pull any of them off due to his inability to act or the fact that he talks like he has poop in his mouth.
Is it a good film? If you want some amazingly choreographed martial arts battles then I’d say yes. If you want a cohesive movie that combines great action and plot I’d say no. It’s par the course for this type of movie and I never really expected to be blown away by the story. I just wished the movie was more fun when it wasn’t showing someone getting their arms hacked off with a red hot sword by a guy that can turn his skin into metal. RZA knows his way around this genre for sure, and he has a great visual style. His problems stem from the fact that he needs to learn how to tell a story and that he definitely shouldn’t cast himself as the lead in his films. If he can overcome these issues I’m sure he could be a force to reckon with in the genre. But since this film bombed at the box office I don’t see him getting another film greenlighted anytime soon. And if he does I hope it’s not the sequel that is set up during the end credits.

3 out of 5

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Hunger Games


There was so much hype flying around regarding the release of the feature film adaptation of The Hunger Games that is was almost suffocating toward the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. I had never heard of the book or the fact that there was even a following for it since I haven’t been targeted for the teen reader demographic for about 20 years. Once I heard that the movie was based on a young adult novel I completely lost interest because the first thing that came to mind was Twilight, and I will not give that property one moment of my time. I ignored stories about it on my favorite movie websites, tuned out when I heard conversations about it amongst friends and avoided looking at the novels whenever at book stores.

But then something funny happened. I was perusing the local Half Price Books and I overheard two employees who were stocking shelves in the next row talking about the newest novels they’d read. One said, and I quote “Some of the most fucked up shit I’ve ever read happens in that book.” I was immediately interested in whatever book they were talking about. The other responded simply with “The next time someone turns in a copy of The Hunger Games put it aside for me.” I was genuinely taken aback since I had known nothing about the novel. Within the next week I had all three books in the series in my possession… and they were awesome (including Mockingjay).
The story takes place in a future where a civil war has left the United States, now called Panem, divided into twelve districts. Each district is filled to capacity with the destitute and poor who work non-stop to provide amenities for the wealthy and decadent occupants of The Capital. In order to quell another possible insurrection The Capital hosts an annual event called “The Hunger Games” in which a young boy and girl from each district are thrown into an arena to fight to the death until one is left standing. When the young sister of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a teenager from District 12, is chosen to participate in the games she steps in and offers to be tribute instead. She now must fight for her life.

When the movie was released I was ready. I had just finished reading the first book the night before I saw it and my hype level was at DefCon 1. I was not disappointed. The movie was just as I envisioned it in my mind. The casting was perfect, the set design and costumes were spot on and the in-your-face filming style worked wonders to pull you into the world of Panem. Director Gary Ross came out of nowhere (the last film I saw of his was Pleasantville back in the late 90s) and knocked it out of the park in every conceivable way.
Jennifer Lawrence, who was nominated for an Oscar at age 20 for her performance in Winter’s Bone, is a revelation as the lead. Not only does she have the acting chops to take on this complex character but she excels at her action scenes as well. She gives Katniss a nice amount of vulnerability that I didn’t think would come through in a feature adaptation, and some minor issues aside I think she found the defining role of her career.

Josh Hutcherson takes on the equally important role of Peeta with a great deal of enthusiasm, which is a nice contrast to Lawrence’s more internal performance. He pulls off the character’s immense charm from the novel without a hitch and you really get involved in his world view where he doesn’t want to become a product of the system and remain true to himself during all the media hype surrounding the games. There is a minor issue I have with him as well that I will discuss later.
The casting of Woody Harrelson as their mentor Haymitch is not quite what I expected since I envisioned the character as a sort of drunken buffoon and he comes off as more of a hard ass alcoholic. But regardless, he is great as Haymitch and makes him extremely likable.

The rest of the supporting cast, be it Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Stanely Tucci as Caesar Flickerman or even Wes Bentley as Gamemaster Seneca Crane (who really didn’t have a prominent role in the novel), is all pitch perfect.

I have to give props to Lenny Kravitz however. His performance as Cinna is spot on and is probably one of the main highlights of the film for me. He IS that character and I never thought this ex-rocker-turned-actor would be able to take me by surprise the way he did. Kudos sir!
The violence has been toned down in the extreme, but it’s understandable that it would have to be in order to for the teenagers who are the target audience to be able to turn out in droves. The book would definitely have an “R” rating, but this needed to be “PG-13” to be successful. We do get to see just enough of all the messed up stuff going on during the games to drive the point home. It’s still a brutal movie regardless.

My issues, which I mentioned earlier, are how certain events aren’t explored enough to make them believable. The main topic is the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. We do get a feeling for the unspoken love between Katniss and Gale at the start of the film, or at least the fact that they respect each other immensely. Katniss realizes that in order to survive in the games and win the audience’s admiration she needs to appear to be in love with Peeta since earlier in the story he proclaimed his feelings for her publicly. But all we get is one scene where she just spoons him while he’s injured in a cave and that’s it. It doesn’t feel like there was any real thought put into it on her part, just that Haymitch left her a cryptic note about it and the next thing you know she’s throwing googly eyes his way. There should have been a shot or two of her realizing that there was a camera filming them in the cave, and that she decided to play up to the audience by pretending to love Peeta. Out of all the events that take place in the film it’s this part that irks me the most. I never bought into it at all.
I’m not comparing the movie to the book at all since I’ve always felt that they are two different mediums and things that work wonders on the page don’t always come off the same way on the screen and vice versa. I’m just saying as an audience member that in the movie certain plot points aren’t given enough time to breathe. The pacing is so swift that events that should be explored are glossed over to keep the story moving forward and the runtime below 2 ½ hours.

Outside of that this is a fantastically adapted film that definitely captures the spirit of the novel on which it’s based. Technically it’s a marvel. It looks amazing, sounds even better (the score is pretty rad), features crazy action (that firestorm scene is nuts) and the casting is almost perfect. A few tiny glitches aside it’s one of my favorite films of 2012.

Bring on the next chapter, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire!!!

4.5 out of 5

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prometheus


I can be very passionate about film franchises I adore. TRON, Star Trek, The Terminator, Jaws, Indiana Jones, etc. One of my all-time favorites is the Alien series. Each film is pretty amazing in its own right (well, maybe not Alien: Resurrection) due to the different approaches each writer and director have taken the stories, be it a straight up horror film to a dark AIDS allegory. So when I say that I was excited when the original film’s director, Ridley Scott, announced he would return to the franchise to direct a prequel you best believe I was EXCITED! And once the trailer was released HOLY HELL I WAS EXCITED! But did the movie live up to my extremely high expectations? Yes and no.

The story follows Drs. Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Holloway (Logan Marshall-Greene) as they lead a group of scientists and military types to a planet where they believe the progenitors of our planet originated. What they do find is a structure filled with containers of a black substance that destroys any form of organic material. They also learn that the “Engineers” of Earth planned to use these canisters to wipe out the human race.
For something that was billed as a prequel to Alien my first thought as I watched this was that I had been deceived. Sure there are little references here and there, like the Weyland Yutani corporation (accompanied by a clever musical motif), the use of an android and the H.R. Giger designs, but little else refers to anything that would tie directly in to that film. The ship that the crew finds is the one from the original film, but the setting is the wrong planet. The navigator’s chair and the design of the Engineer’s suits are the same, but where we saw them in Alien has no bearing here. There are no eggs, facehuggers or even aliens (well, sort of), so you can understand that as I was watching this a sense of profound disappointment began to set in.

Then something happened. A scene so horrific played out in front of me that it received my complete attention and was executed so perfectly that I realized that I was beginning to really enjoy this film and had become sucked into its extremely well thought out world and interesting scenarios regardless of its lack of connection to the franchise. The scene I refer to is the Cesarean section where a creature is cut from the belly of Dr. Shaw. Sure that sounds vaguely like a scenario from the series, but this thing got inside her via intercourse. Don’t ask.
Once I stopped applying all my completely unrealistic expectations to the film as it played out in front of me on that IMAX screen in 3D I began to adore the immersive plot structure that would lay out a series of fascinating ideas and allow the audience to figure out how they applied to the story. Sure there was some stupid shit going on that took me out of it from time to time, like one character taking off the helmet of his environmental suit while in an atmosphere that we were told was toxic or another character reaching out to pet an alien snake/worm thing that looks like it wants to eat his face (and it does). There’s even a scene where one character goes into exposition mode for no reason other than to move the story forward regardless of the fact that he shouldn’t know anything about what’s going on around him.

Writers John Spaihts (first draft) and Damon Lindelof (shooting draft) seemed to have clashing ideas when it came to this material. I’ve read Spaihts draft and it is all about the Alien mythos and how things came to be when the crew of the Nostromo found them on LV-426. Most of it was pretty clever, but the dumb parts that found their way into Prometheus came from him. Lindelof took 90% of the Alien tie-ins out in favor for a more mysterious and original storyline that has the “DNA” of the series in there, but is mostly just new material. This is a good and a bad thing. While I understand why he did what he did to Spaihts’ script in order to keep the material unpredictable, he also made things more complicated than they ever really needed to be and wrote himself into a corner, which explains the odd exposition scene I mentioned earlier. He seems to have a boner for making his plots super complex like he did with Lost, and while that might lend itself well to a television show it doesn’t necessarily work for a feature film. I think the studio people realized this too late and have not asked him to return to script the sequel. Sometimes straightforward storytelling is a good thing, but oddly enough the combination of the two scripts worked for me.
The acting is for the most part unbelievably amazing. Noomi Rapace, hot off her performances in the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, was perfectly cast in the part of Shaw. Her character isn’t written as some Ripley clone, but as a woman of faith that has her beliefs shattered before her very eyes and has to fight to keep them in focus. She never once comes off as an action heroine and I’m thankful for that. Rapace’s naturalistic style is effortless and she pulls off this complex and likable character with aplomb. The same cannot be said for her co-star Logan Marshall-Greene. This guy is just awful. He robotically recites his dialogue with the range of a skipping stone and never once did I believe that he was a scientist or even a character at all. I’ve never seen him in anything else so I can’t say if it’s him or the material, but with the casting being so spot on everywhere else I find it hard to believe that he was hired for his acting chops alone.

Charlize Theron had the mysterious role of Vickers down to the slightest detail, be it a subtle expression or sly glance. You never really know what her deal is due to her playing the part in a militaristic and emotionless style. Even though you’re not supposed to like her you do feel sympathy to her once the hammer comes down (literally) and you see why her character has such a solitary nature. Idris Elba is essentially the comic relief as the pilot of the ship, but not in a slap-stick sort of way. His character doesn’t take things too seriously until it directly affects the ship and the crew and he gets a handful of great lines (“Are you a robot?”). He’s another one of those actors that makes his craft seem so easy and effortless.
But the crown jewel of this film is Michael Fassbender as the android David. His performance can only be described as “otherworldly” due to his character being both in awe and in disdain of humanity. He views himself as superior to humans, but since they created him he sees them as “God” in the way the other characters look upon the Engineers. You never really know what angle he is coming from and that is what makes David so damned interesting. Is he a killer? Genocidal? Is he just following orders? Is he simply malfunctioning? Has he gone crazy after being alone on the ship for all those years? You never really know (although in Spaihts’ script his motivations are very clear) and I’m glad his character was written that way. It kept me on my toes.

The FX are amazing and the 3D is some of the best around. The depth of field utilized here was 100 times more successful than what we saw in Avatar a few years back. The practical effects, which were used instead CGI whenever possible, are just as impressive. The Engineers have a creepy, blank slate sort of look to them that gets under your skin and the other mutated creations are just as rad. However, I think I liked the original version of the Fifield creature (as seen in the deleted scenes on the BluRay) more than what was used in the final cut of the film.
The score by Marc Streitenfeld is pretty awesome. The main theme played over the astoundingly photographed opening credits is beautiful, and the often used action music is unsettling and haunting (it was recorded in reverse and played forwards to give it an off kilter feel). I know Harry Gregson-Williams did a little bit of work here as well so I’ll give him a shout out too.

Last, but certainly not least is the vision of director Ridley Scott that made this movie work for me. He knows what he wants on screen and makes damn sure it gets there in the way he originally intended it to be seen. His work with the actors is clearly top notch (I don’t know what was up with Marshall-Greene) and his visual sense is second to none. For a summer blockbuster this was not of a super high budget, but Scott makes it look grander and more epic than the means at his disposal allowed. When you’ve been in the biz as long as he has I’m sure you know all the tricks to make things work, and he hits the nail on the head at least 92% of the time. Dude’s a master of his craft.
But like I said earlier, not all is super awesome in the land of Prometheus. I mentioned some issues before and I really dislike the final scene which feels like fan service and not an organic twist in the story. I can see why some people would have a problem with this movie as it’s about as hotly contested a geek topic as The Dark Knight Rises. I can only assume that, like myself, people went into this movie with unreal expectations. Sure the movie is far from perfect. The script issues can and do cause certain problems and details are vague for major plot points, but I’ve always felt that was the intention from the start. Some people want their movies laid out for them on a platter without having to think about them at all, and while I do like movies like that more often than not I do love a movie that makes me think and use my imagination to work things out. Of all the movies released in 2012 it was Prometheus that was the catalyst for more talk and speculation within my circle of friends than any other film. When I’m still talking about a flick a month after it comes out you know that it’s done something right.

Left open for a sequel or two, Prometheus left me drooling for more when the end credits rolled. It smartly did not give the audience exactly what they wanted and instead laid out the groundwork for something bigger than even the Alien movies could ever hope for. And that’s why I like this movie so much. Like Shaw, the film took my expectations and allowed me to see how a master can take them and show you something new and different instead. Say what you will about Prometheus, but I will always say that this is a masterpiece of science fiction, and not sci-fi like everyone thought it would be. I like it so much it ended up on my list of top films in 2012.

4.5 out of 5

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Warm Bodies


Being a huge zombie movie fan I was genuinely not excited when I saw that there was a zombie romantic comedy coming out this year. I am not a fan of romantic comedies in general and the combination of the two seemed like a horrible, horrible idea. What piqued my curiosity about Warm Bodies was just that; I wanted to witness firsthand how in the hell someone thought that making a zombie romantic comedy was actually a good idea. I did my best to avoid reading any reviews and kept the spoilers to a minimum so that when I did get around to seeing it I could enjoy it from a completely ignorant point of view. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the end result.

In a world overrun by zombies there are pockets of humans trying desperately to survive. R (Nicholas Hoult) is one of these zombies who roams an airport looking for food, but yearns for something more. When he eats the brains of a young scavenger he absorbs the love his victim felt for Julie (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful survivor. This love begins to change R physically and a romance begins to grow between the two.
Sure on the surface this looks like a zombie comedy, not unlike Shaun of the Dead, but when you dig a little deeper it actually is a clever retelling of Romeo & Juliet. You have two warring families (the humans and the zombies), starcrossed lovers (R and Julie… get it?!) and even a balcony scene (for real). It gives the somewhat silly story a little bit of weight that it needs to make it all work.

Yes, I did say that the main story is silly even though it’s about a zombie plague. I won’t ruin the main twist the story takes, which runs against popular zombie lore, but I will say that I wasn’t digging this movie for the first half hour or so due to it. I realize that I should be happy that someone decided to take the standard zombie movie clich├ęs and change them up a bit, but here they went a bit too far for me at the start.
- The first issue is that R, the main character, is a zombie and he has interior dialogue running over the entire film where he is well spoken and versed in current pop culture.
      - Next is that the zombies de-evolve into “Bonies”, undead who rip their skin off and become overly aggressive, going as far as to eat other zombies when live victims are hard to come by (sort of like how the vampires de-evolved in Daybreakers).
      - Third is that R and a few other zombies, most notably his best friend M (Rob Corddry), can speak. At great length. For no reason.
      - Fourth is that if a zombie eats someone's brains they inherit all of that person's memories. On top of that it seems that R is the only zombie that knows this and intentionally does it in order to gain memories and feel alive.
All of these issues bugged me like crazy from the start, but as the movie spun on I found myself growing accustomed to it and at the midpoint found that I had become totally engrossed in the bizarroland that writer/director Jonathan Levine and novelist Isaac Marion created. “To hell with the rules” I thought to myself, “this is a lot of fun”. And it sure is.
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, X-Men: First Class, Jack the Giant Slayer), who is being primed to become the next big thing, is a fantastically gifted young actor. He has a knack for comedy which is clearly evident here. His character’s body language and facial expressions are pretty much all he has to work with for a good chunk of the movie and he excels at not only the pratfalls and physical stuff, but his character’s insanely funny voiceovers. Hearing him talk about how his character feels “conflicted” about eating someone is pretty damned hilarious, and later on in the story he has a few great moments (“SHIT!”). Once his character starts to “change” he really begins to shine.

Teresa Palmer (Take Me Home Tonight, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Grudge 2) is someone I’ve seen in plenty of movies over the years, and I have not liked her in any of them. Maybe the parts she accepts are written poorly, the director she is working with is crap or maybe she’s just getting by on her looks. I don’t know what the reasons are, but I’m not a fan. Until now. If there was one movie to show off what you can do as an actress it’s this one. She’s basically playing opposite a mute and has to do all the talking for both of them. The romance angle rests squarely on her shoulders since her character is the one that has to fall in love with a zombie, and if she couldn’t convince the audience of that the movie would never have worked. She pulls it off spectacularly and I’m now firmly in her camp. She just needs to find better projects to showcase her talents (I Am Number Four… really?!).
Sure the movie co-stars John Malkovich as Julie’s over protective father, and yes, he screams a lot. The secret weapon here is Rob Corddry as R’s best friend M (Mercutio). He seems to be having a ball playing a zombie that can only communicate (at the beginning) with grunts and moans. The conversation he has with R at the airport bar is one of the funniest awkward moments I’ve seen recently. Once he starts talking he gets all the good lines (“They said ‘fuck yeah’!) as well as one particularly heartfelt moment near the end as M looks at a certain picture in the airport. Dude’s talented.

Writer/director Jonathan Levine, who directed one of the most criminally abused films in motion picture history (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane), had to walk a fine line between being overly sentimental and overly scary with the material. I think that for the most part he kept things in check and made a movie that is both oddly romantic as well as a little frightening. He coaxed awesome performances out of his actors, chose extremely appropriate songs from both the 80s and current pop charts, showed gore only when necessary and kept the story moving forward no matter what. I’ve only seen two of his film now, but I will most likely look up 50/50 and The Wackness in the future.
My only gripe is the overly CGI-ness of the Bonies. They don’t look entirely completed, as if there was never a final render of the effects shots. They appear very fake; inserted into shots and when they move they don’t really look like they are touching the ground (like the CGI monkeys in A Sound of Thunder). I’m sure the producers felt like they had more important things to spend the budget on, but when these creatures play such a prominent role in the finale you have to wonder what the hell they were thinking.

I also have an issue with what the underlying theme of the film is since it is pretty hokey, but I will not discuss it here due to it being a major spoiler. In the end I was 70% okay with it, but it still bugged me a little bit due to how syrupy it is.

Regardless, Warm Bodies is a fun and, dare I say, romantic film that everyone should see. Is it a little creepy that a girl falls in love with a zombie? Sure. But it’s done in such a funny and honest way that you can’t help but root for these two people from opposite sides of… I don’t know, life? But I digress. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and coming from someone who absolutely hates romantic comedies the unique spin on the material this film employs was enough to win me over. Just don’t ask me to watch You’ve Got Mail. I will shank the first person that does.

4 out of 5