ANYONE who knows me knows I love me my Zombie films. Lately there have been a lot of Zombie films too. We’re sort of in a zombie renaissance. I feel we’ve reached a point now too where there are so many that the only real point of producing new ones is to mess with the formula. Perhaps that’s why Romero’s last two films were not really all that well received… where he was once experimenting with the formula he himself developed, his last two were really more of the same. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, I haven’t actually seen Survival of the Dead (so I am only going by heresay, but the heresay on it is pretty one note) but I can’t imagine anyone really standing up for Diary of the Dead. It can’t stand up to any of his earlier efforts, even Land of the Dead (Romero’s only full on mainstream film I can think of).
In any case, I’m getting a little side tracked. Continuing the trend of monkeying with the formula, Warm Zombies… I mean Bodies was just released. It’s not particularly heavy or deep, but it is a lot of fun, very sweet, and more then a little heart warming. It may be the first Zombie movie I can think of with told from the Zombie’s perspective, with a zombie protagonist. On that note it does cheat a little. I don’t mind the inner dialogue of “R” (he can’t remember his name, only that it starts with R) but they do have trouble straddling the line of mindless automaton, and thinking and feeling zombie. It’s a difficult juggling act, which they don’t completely succeed in, making the zombies a little inconsistent from one scene to the next, but given what they are trying to do with the story, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been handled differently. Zombie movies tend to be very much about setting up a system of rules, and then showcasing what those rules mean for the universe, and here they aren’t able to follow there own rules 100 percent, so you end up with a few leaps of logic that don’t make a lot of sense. It’s a minor nitpick though, and remember we’re talking about a movie involving walking corpses who not only eat human brains, but literally eat their memories. That leads me to an interesting point in this film, they introduce a new rule to the mix where zombies experience the memories of their victims by eating their brains. This to my knowledge has never been suggested before, but makes a good explanation for why zombies specifically eat brains, but still leaving the more general carnivorous proclivities intact.
One thing I find interesting about the whole genre, is by and large there has been a shift in tone from one of general hopelessness to one that actually feels rather uplifting. This is strange because right now it seems to me that most movies and genres are actually trending the exact opposite. Everyone seems to have a very poor outlook on the future right now, but looking at the modern state of Zombie films, you have a feeling of “We’re gonna make it after all”. Maybe the makers of Zombie films just feel that hopelessness has been played out. In any case, this movie has as hopeful a message as you could possibly want. Not only would we survive the zombie apocalypse, but one day will learn to be best friends with the zombies! (it doesn’t come across QUITE as cheesy in the movie) This I think is very nice message for our times. I think the hopeful outlook is something people need right now.
The actors mostly acquit themselves nicely, though the heroine is really kindof a bit bland. John Malcovich is always a nice addition to any movie, and though he is a bit underused as the heroines obsessed militaristic father, his few scenes really shine. “M” is also a very nice character played in an unusually strait manner by the usually comic Rob Corddry. He is R’s best friend whom R often ALMOST has conversations with! And of course we come to the protagonist, R, who really steals the whole show. His “inner monologue” if it can be called that, really holds the whole thing together, and makes you feel for this mindless automaton. He also handles his gradual transition from traditional moaning and groaning zombie to thinking feeling and speaking “almost” human quite well. He is played by Nicholas Holt who seems to be a bit of an up and comer right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his career take off in the next few years.
All in all, 8 out of 10 stars! (I’m not really very good at quantifying my ratings…. I may have to put some thought into a more coherent ratings scale!)
Bonus Review: Die Hard 57 – Yippy-Ki-Yay? Yippy-Ki-Nay Mother F&^%er!