Sunday, February 24, 2013

Warm Bodies

Producer 1: Man, teenagers really love these vampire romance movies.
Producer 2: I know. Know what else they love? Zombies.
Producer 1: Yeah. What about a zombie romance?
Producer 2: I like it!

And so, with a little money from BMW and Corona Extra, Warm Bodies was created. Two young lovers are forbidden from being together ala Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. And if that wasn't obvious enough for the audience, their names are R and Julie, and there's a balcony scene.

I don't think zombie movies need excessive gore to be good, but I'd like to see a little flesh. Colored contacts and mascara do not a zombie make. And what about all those scars on their faces? They must have had those before they got infected, because wounds don't heal on dead people. When the zombies first experience love, their hearts glow. I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure the human heart is not located directly in the center of one's chest.

In this film's universe, I can accept the fact that a zombie learns simple words from spending time with this girl. But that doesn't explain how his zombie-friend, who's hasn't met the girl, learns complete English phrases. At one point, a soldier being stalked by a zombie suddenly forgets how to operate his weapon. No matter how hard I try, I can't think of a plausible way in which these scenarios make sense.

If you're going to make a teen romance with a supernatural creature of any kind, don't hire a lead actress who looks just like Kristen Stewart of Twilight. If you're going to make a movie marketed for teens, don't have them casually drink beer. If you're going to make a comedy, make sure it's actually funny. And if you're going to make a zombie movie, let us see a little blood.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


When a film begins with the words 'based on a true story,' we're  drawn even more into the drama that unfolds. Argo is the true story of six Americans trapped in Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis.  The CIA plans to get them home by giving them fake identities as filmmakers scouting locations for a science-fiction film.

The film's story is fantastically absurd, tense, and genuine. Like fellow Best Picture nominee, Zero Dark Thirty, the protagonist is one of this country's unsung heroes. And honestly, it's not super-patriotic. The hero, Tony Mendez, is not motivated by his love of America or his hatred of Iran. He just wants to get six innocent people home safely.

The acting and casting is perfect. During the credits, photos of the actors and the people they portrayed are viewed side-by-side. The resemblances are uncanny. Alan Arkin and John Goodman, who portray Hollywood players, are hilarious together and break some of the film's tension.

I enjoyed this film because it was about the power of words. My favorite scene was when an American diplomat (pretending to be a filmmaker) tells a group of young Iranian guards the plot of his fake sci-fi movie. The film isn't even real, but he tells the story like he believes in it. Because, really, that's what film is: believing strongly in something that you know isn't real.