John Hanlon Reviews

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Warm Bodies Poster

Warm Bodies

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Director: Jonathan Levine

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: February 1st 2013

It’s tough to remember now but Sylvester Stallone is an Oscar-nominated actor. Nominated for his title role in the Oscar-winning Rocky (1976), this the muscled man has made audiences forget that nod time and again as he performs in so many mediocre action films that fail to challenge him or the audience. Bullet to the Head, his passable new flick, is a perfect example of this.

Stallone plays James Bonomo, an assassin who enjoys his work. Early on, he barges into an apartment with his partner and the two—-posing as police officers– quickly eliminate their target. Bonomo, who is a hitman with a heart (of course!), then refuses to off a hooker in the shower.

As the story proceeds, Bonomo’s partner is killed and Bonomo partners up with a by-the-books police officer named Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) to investigate the murder and find out why someone wants Bonomo dead.

Their investigation leads them to many shoot-outs and fights but the plot of the film is easy to understand. The duo finds a possible lead to investigate. They find that person and then kill them. Before the death though, that individual names another person that they should be going after next.

So the routine goes like this: A bad guy is introduced. The bad guy is then dispatched. A new bad guy is introduced. And then dispatched. Like the cycles of a washing machine, the pattern simply repeats itself until the end.

Along the way, we meet a variety of forgettable characters. There’s Christian Slater (True Romance) playing a rich playboy named Marcus Baptiste. There’s Brian Van Holt (TV’s Cougar Town) playing a treacherous psychopath. There’s…oh never mind. Few of the characters hang around long enough to be anything other than target practice.

The fun of the film—aside from some of the solid fight scenes—is the dichotomy set up between Bonomo and Kwon. Kwon, whose life is saved countless times by Bonomo, threatens to have his ally arrested several times. Being the straight-laced cop, he continually checks in with his fellow officers believing that they are on his side.

But when you’re in a movie with Sylvester Stallone, the general rule is that Stallone is usually the only person on your side.

The best sequence of the film takes place when Bonomo and Kwon are interrogating Baptiste. It’s here where the violence and the dialogue comes alive. The scene shows both men trying to get information from their prisoner in their own unique ways. Sure, the set-up is clichéd but it’s enticing to watch the two men verbally battle it out in front of their charismatic hostage.

Ultimately, Bullet to the Head is as subtle as its title. If you enjoy Stallone movies that are laced with violence and mayhem, you’ll probably like his latest film. If you’re looking for something deeper, then you should steer clear. This story has an audience and will likely find it.

I just wish that Stallone would look for something deeper to work on and not simply settle for stories as mindless and humdrum as this.
“This date is not going well. I want to die all over again.” Such are the sentiments of a zombie in love, website like this
a character so seldom seen on the big screen. In Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult plays such a zombie who—despite a limited vocabulary and a knack for shrugging instead of committing to anything—begins a youthful romance with a living girl, played by Theresa Palmer.

The story begins as we hear the voice-over of a sentimental and introverted zombie (Hoult), whose name he can’t remember. He eventually goes by R because he believes that his living name began with that. R lives in a world of mundane and slow-walking zombies who yearn for human flesh. But R is different. In a voice-over that is present throughout much of the film, we listen to R analyzes his surroundings and questions why he is different than the non-thinking, unfeeling zombies he’s surrounded by.

Despite his intellect and wit though, R still attacks humans and feasts on them, specifically enjoying their brains which—when eaten—show the zombies memories of their victim’s lives. During the course of one fight, R meets a young fighter named Julie (Teresa Palmer), whose mother was devoured by a zombie. Despite a temptation to literally eat her brain, he kidnaps Julie and brings her back to the zombie side of town where she is forced to act like a zombie to survive.

What follows is an unlikely romance between the two. R keeps her in an airplane he calls home despite her desire to leave. He knows that if she leaves, she’ll be gone from his life forever. Instead, he fills her days with adventures despite the fact that he has a limited vocabulary and very little to talk about.

What could have been a one-note joke is spread out over the course of a brisk ninety-seven minutes. R’s voice-over provides a majority of the laughs but the situations they encounter in the land of the living dead will keep audiences chuckling and enjoying the cute dynamic between the two youngsters.

The story understands that the premise might be new but the concept isn’t. The script by Jonathan Levine (50/50) and adapted from the novel by Isaac Marion offers a few nice nods to zombie movies of yore and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Warm Bodies celebrates multiple genres but embraces the unlikely romance between its leads more than anything else.

Of course, no romance rings true without obstacles standing in the way. Julie and R have to contend with a number of odd dilemmas. R barely speaks and Julie is terrified by him at the beginning of the story. Add to that the fact that Julie’s father Grigio (a well-cast John Malkovich) is leading the rebellion against the zombies and the fact that R is the one who killed Julie’s ex-boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) and you have plenty of reasons why these two can’t end up together.

But there are few reasons not to check out Warm Bodies this weekend. It’s a fun light-hearted comedy boasting a killer soundtrack and a great script. Get your body to a theater today to check it out.

Review by: John Hanlon