Remember Warm Bodies, the intriguing-looking zombie romantic comedy movie starring hollow-eyed ghoul/dreamboat Nicholas Hoult? Not only did Warm Bodies seem destined to put the term zom-rom-com on the map, there were plenty of reasons to feel bullish about this movie's potential. It's based on Isaac Marion’s popular online short story called I Am a Zombie Filled With Love, which he expanded into the 2010 Warm Bodies novel (I've read it and it's fantastic); the studio behind the film is Summit Entertainment, perhaps best known for a little franchise you may or may not have heard of called Twilight.
Plus: zombies. I mean, zombies are remarkably hot for being repulsively cold to the touch. Between the unique (yet comfortingly familiar, thanks to Edward and Bella) subject matter (handsome undead young man falls for living girl), Warm Bodies really seemed like it was going to be a slam dunk.
"Seemed like," unfortunately, doesn't always translate into reality. I was hoping for Marion's sake that Warm Bodies would explode at the box office, but based on the so-so reviews, it doesn't look like it's going to be a critics' top pick for 2013.
Here's a smattering of the reviews that clearly think the movie should have been titled Lukewarm Bodies:
This is more like a sensitively bent version of a Nicholas Sparks novel, where lovers must overcome significant social obstacles before moving on to the bed. (...) the whole of Warm Bodies, in both its comic and dramatic strains, lacks a certain ... what? Ooomph? Intensity? Invention? -- Chicago Tribune
This character-driven genre meld could have used more edge and energy, and less obvious message-mongering. -- Hollywood Reporter
The portrait of adolescent alienation touches glancingly on degrees of conformity, but Levine has no interest in crossing into the political-allegory territory of George Romero's zombie classics. Here the ennui sometimes seeps into the narrative in a way that leaves stretches of the movie enervated and galumphing like a corpse. -- KansasCity.com
Its major resemblance to Twilight is in the way it waters down a perfectly good monster into a broody, ineffectual boy, then presents that boy as the apotheosis of romance. (...) For a movie about a love so powerful that it brings people back from the dead, it’s curiously tepid. In spite of its repeated, overwrought image of grey, dead zombie hearts flushing and throbbing with new life, it lacks a beating heart of its own. -- The A.V. Club
It wants to be funny, charming, scary, and dramatic. It ends up being a little of each but not successful as any one. -- Reel Views
Of course, the news isn't all bad. Even in the low-scoring reviews, critics are typically referring to Warm Bodies as flawed, not downright terrible. It sounds like most movies, really: there's good stuff to be enjoyed, along with moments you wish you could fast-forward past.
For another take on what the movie delivers, here's what Roger Ebert has to say:
Warm Bodies isn't perfect. It's a shame those Bonies are mediocre special-effects creations that run with a herky-jerky style that would have been mocked by the 1991-era Terminator 2 liquid-metal dude. Some of the musical choices are too broad and easy. And even after we get the message, the message is delivered at least two or three more times. But those are minor drawbacks. Clocking in at a brisk 97 minutes, Warm Bodies is terrific entertainment. A lot of zombie movies have heart — but usually the heart ends up on someone's plate. Cheers to Warm Bodies for taking us in a different direction for a change.
I don't always agree with critics, but I do find that reviews often influence whether or not I see something in the theater. For the expense and hassle of a date night, I'm hoping for greatness, so I think it's likely that I'll wait to see this until it's out on DVD.
What do you think -- do the reviews change your mind one way or the other about Warm Bodies?
Image via Warm Bodies