Warm Bodies Leaves You Cold

Warm Bodies the number one movie in America last week? Am I dreaming?

First of all, with the ridiculous amount of Oscar Best Picture nominees again this year, you’d think the Academy’s plan to generate more interest in the movies would be working – at least in their favor – but instead, the top grossing movie is a pre-teen snoozer cashing in on both the lucrative zombie genre and the beastly, psuedo-horror/romance fad 13-year olds all seem to identify with these days. It’s so much cooler to be hot for vampires, werewolves, zombies and other one-off horror show freaks, than it is to fall for just a normal, run-of-the-mill kind of guy, isn’t it? Why don’t they ever make movies where the male characters are the ones falling in love with a physically flawed female character, by the way? I’ll tell you why, because Hollywood knows that in their already dwindling audience of males age 18- 35, none of that demographic wants to lust after a girl who looks like a zombie or the guy from Beastly. Not even if it was Bar Refaeli playing the part.

Lucio Fulci will likely rise from the dead as soon as he finds out about this comparison.

Lucio Fulci will likely rise from the dead to eat someone’s brains as soon as he finds out about this horrendous “inside joke” comparison.

Warm Bodies is a pathetic excuse for a zombie flick to begin with, falling way short of ever providing any sort of truly cinematic zombie movie goodness. Instead it just recycles the old zombie apocalypse theme with the people who haven’t yet been bitten hiding behind a makeshift wall somewhere in a city that looks vaguely like London or New York City and with zombies milling around outside. Warm Bodies even appears to borrow a little bit of the I Am Legend look with its laughably CGI “Boney’s.” What’s worse though is how the film expects its audience to reject every perfectly plausible zombie movie guideline they know and just blindly go with this stupid story which at one point even turns into Romeo and Juliet.

The film is void of any sincere laughs, and gets by – if on anything – on its ability to make the lead zombie boy look and act cute because he’s fallen in love with a un-zombified girl. There are too many plot holes and inconsistencies to even bother referencing them here, but suffice it to say, no one seemed to notice (or care) except me. Something about this movie spoke to people. I am baffled. Look, I’m a sucker for a good romance and I love horror films from all sub-genres, so the unique plot concept about zombies painfully being alive inside their bludgeoned heads even when their bodies are dead, and the idea that they can gradually come back to life when embraced with the feeling of love, was a huge selling point for me – but this movie completely missed both marks and gave up all its opportunities to exploit its unique storyline to the fullest.

Then there are the actors – they’re terrible. Yeah, the lead girl is cute in a rip-off Kristen Stewart kind of way, but she is ultimately and instantaneously forgettable. The boy is similarly bad – the worse zombie ever in fact – I’ve seen zombie extras play more believable and horrifying than him. The boy’s movements inconsistent, unrealistic and his moaning and groaning ability to communicate short sentences to the girl and other zombies is a real chore to sit through. Even the director Jonathan Levine clearly felt that way after he saw the footage edited together, because the amount of songs which they conveniently edit into the film to absolutely no added effect, is equally boring to sit through. I find better zombie music videos online at least once a week.

The director Jonathan Levine should be ashamed of himself. This is utterly and obviously a job he took for the money, as I can see no effort, interest or talent that was put into this – especially comparing it to previous stellar work he’s done when he’s motivated and inspired, such as the hilarious and poignant 50/50. Even The Wackness was better than this.

…As I think about it more now, maybe this is the best movie to see in theaters at this moment. At least half of the Best Picture noms are unjustified and obvious promotional tactics / pats-on-the-back, but at least filmmakers like Spielberg and David O. Russell care about their craft and what they bring to the screen and if they’re making a film for the paycheck, they put a little effort into it still. The writer, filmmakers and actors (including Malkovich) of Warm Bodies, should all be ashamed of themselves for letting such drivel cost $12.50 in pointless Cinema XD since there’s about as much XD worthy action in the movie as there is in Lincoln, and as little tangible romance as there is in Silver Linings Playbook. Go see something else.

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Can Brad Pitt Save the World?

Now Brad Pitt’s in a zombie movie? Really? Isn’t this genre starting to get played out already? How many more spins on the zombie story can we really stomach? I think it’s time to try moving into some other horror sub-genres. Not only is the zombie wave beginning to bore me, but the zombie apocalypse is just so 2002. This whole trailer for World War Z, in fact, feels an awful lot like I Am Legend revisited.

Can’t we start moving on to lesser used horror sub-genres than vampires and zombies? Vampires had a run for a good while, then zombies took over our movie screens and TV sets; what about werewolves? It seems like they’d be a logical next horror fad in the trajectory. I actually think I’m on to something here; notice how werewolves pop up randomly now in movies (e.g. Dark Shadows), and take supporting roles in others (e.g. Underworld, Twilight). It’s time for a full moon folks.

The Toddling Dead

Zombies are pretty much saturating the market right now, but it’s always cool to see filmmakers with fresh ideas for a quickly becoming played out fad. Check out this short film / music video directed by David Altobelli and Jeff Desom for the band HEALTH‘s song “Tears.” You can’t look away, and you won’t be sorry!

"My Body’s A Zombie For You" – Another New Dead Man’s Bones Cut

Another new cut from the debut album by Dead Man’s Bones (check out everything else available from them here).

Click here to download the MP3 (via Pitchfork).

The album drops October 6th.

Half Nelson in a Cemetary: Dead Man’s Bones

Recognizable actor Ryan Gosling and (not-so) recognizable actor Zach Shields claim they don’t know how to play all the instruments heard on their debut album from their debut band Dead Man’s Bones (featuring The Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir). If that’s true, who cares. The couple songs they’ve already dropped, which have been floating around the internet, are pretty darn good.

You can download the first cut from the album here, or you can watch the video for it below. Called “In the Room Where You Sleep,” it’s a pretty great first cut, with a Cash-channeling Gosling and an almost Randy Newman-esque piano backed by the perfectly imperfect choral stylings of a children’s choir (co-founded by Flea).


The debut album, which appears to only have the first of the two songs shown above on it, drops from Anti- Records on October 6th with the tracklist as follows:

01 Intro
02 Dead Hearts
03 In the Room Where You Sleep
04 Buried in Water
05 My Body’s a Zombie for You
06 Pa Pa Power
07 Young & Tragic
08 Paper Ships
09 Lose Your Soul
10 Werewolf Heart
11 Dead Man’s Bones
12 Flowers Grow Out of My Grave

Here’s to hoping there’s a tour in the near future – maybe at some local elementary schools – maybe on Halloween!

Russian Propaganda Gone Metal

I literally have nothing to say about this, but I can’t stop watching it.

300

Not often do I see a film and think it could have been better made by another director. It’s happened a few times, but generally, I do not like to pigeonhole any individual I consider an artist, regardless how I feel about their work. So it pains me to say that I believe the story 300 could have been more of an adrenaline shot to the heart if it were only helmed by someone like Oliver Stone (more on that later). Since my wishes went unrequited, we instead have been given the version in theaters by Zack Snyder.

I like zombies and especially zombie films, so I was rooting for Zack upon entry into the theater, but I left with a sense of disappointment. In comparison to the exceptional technical SFX and genre craftsmanship of his first film, 300 was a letdown. For starters I’m not fond of CGI, especially when it has been thrown together haphazardly and without concern for realism or even continuity. The special effects and computer animation felt rushed here, as if there wasn’t time to be meticulous, (like a Frank Miller comic, or even one adapted by Robert Rodriguez, would be); only time to meet the studio’s Spring premiere deadline.


So, for a director who filmed one of the gorier zombie flicks this side of 1999 (props to Peter Jackson for the goriest prior to that), I don’t think I should be able to feel cheated. For instance, like Snyder’s earlier Dawn of the Dead, there’s a lot of blood flying and splattering in this movie, but unlike Dawn of the Dead, none of it ever lands anywhere! With the way these 300 men went through a 1,000 Persians like some human woodchipper, you’d think – if not them – at least the ground would be covered in blood. You’d be wrong. The question is: was it for ratings, or simply hackneyed SFX?

Technical aspects aside, I did enjoy this movie. While it’s certainly not riveting material, I was ultimately lulled by the sometimes creepy, sometimes blissful, bedtime story-like narration. This narration was so noticeable to me as a viewer, I wanted it to create a hard contrast to the imagery on screen. This is where I believe Stone would have excelled. Think Alexander, only written like Natural Born Killers and fused with the editor-as-storyteller quality of any recent Peter Jackson film. However, what Snyder leaves us with is a campfire fable processed through some sort of a post-1990s-genre-exploitation machine, and handcrafted for syndication on MTV at a later date.

One review that I read spoke of how the film was bad due to its not being “realistic.” This type of criticism appalls me as I believe that the critic in question should have been well-versed enough to understand that no Frank Miller story, transcribed to film, could (or should for that matter) ever be realistic. That’s not the point of such movies, and especially not of such stories. Though events depicted in the film are based on true accounts of a small army of Spartans defending themselves against the Persians, even in such accounts, just how much realism can really be expected or attained? I mean do we really know if the exact number of Spartans fighting equaled 300? My point in harping on this one negative review is that its critics like this, which defile the important meaning of the criticism of movies and cause both the filmmakers and audience such distaste for film reviews in general.

While I can’t deny the film is fun, and engaging, it’s like a less hard-boiled, less edgy, and less monochromatic Sin City with its colorfully dark characters throughout, but unlike Sin City, these characters have no dimension to them. The one exception being Xerxes, with whom some character traits are revealed, but for such a cruel person, he seems to realize his faults all too easily in the end. Additionally, all the other standard storytelling methods are in place here: foreshadowing, irony, flashback, and the favorite of scriptwriters everywhere, the red herring. But none of these do the plot any justice with the exception of the foreshadowing which comes at the very onset of the film, and is unnecessarily reinforced later through the use of flashbacks.

Here’s my advice, before you go out and drool under the concave silver screen of frenzy that is the film 300, add the third revised, and nearly 300 minute, unrated director’s cut of Oliver Stone’s Alexander to your Netflix queue. Only then will you really understand what Zack Snyder’s film was lacking.