Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is a zombie romance movie.  I mean, more so than nearly every zombie is a zombie romance movie, because in this one it's not just "two people [fall in love/cling to each other in desperation] while zombies happen to be nearby," it's "Zombie falls in love with girl, zombie kidnaps girl, somehow that works out." That said, if you ignore the extremely problematic main storyline, it's a really good movie.

Spoilers below.

There are two kinds of zombies in Warm Bodies:  the regular dead, kind of isolated-in-self, partially conscious people who all seem like they're recovering from serious brain damage and also crave flesh.  Then there are the 'bonies,' or skeletons, zombies who are so far gone that they've torn off all their flesh and attack anything and everything with a pulse.

At first, the bonies are just a sort of weird background thing, but by the end it's clear that they need to be there to keep this movie a zombie movie, because the zombies aren't really zombies -- or, at least, they get better. The power of love starts their hearts beating again, and they start to learn how to be human.

This movie is clearly engineered from start to finish to be heartwarming -- which totally works -- and if you apply the standardized, out-of-the-box metaphorical interpretation of zombies, that they represent the mindless horde of consumers, it's extremely optimistic.

The message seems to be that empathy is the solution to some major world problems.  In this case, a zombie eats some dude's brain, and thereby experiences that guy's life.  In doing so, he comes to understand his experiences, but also comes to empathize with his ex-girlfriend, who he kidnaps and takes to his plane-full-of-junk.

(He acts like he's saving her life, but really, he could have just helped her hide when he and his buddies all left, and Julie would have gotten out of there just like her friend, hiding under a nearby desk, did.)

Then, other zombies see him acting weirdly, and instead of murdering him for being different, one of them reaches out in a gesture of friendship to try and understand.  That understanding and empathy spreads, and shortly thereafter all the zombies start remembering what being a human being is.

Given that interpretation, I'm not really sure who the survivors are supposed to be.  I'd say that they're the rich people ruling over the zombified poor, but there are slums on the inside of the wall.  And they don't seem to be the handful of remaining super-special-people who never lost their humanity, because the leader of the survivors, Julie's dad, is the most hardcore-anti-empathy person not skeletonized.

Maybe I'll see more if I get to see this movie again, but right now it seems like the kind of movie that feels really deep and moving, but doesn't have much more going on under the surface.  But it's funny and it's self-aware and it's an earnestly well-done fresh take on zombies (heh, fresh zombies) so if you're looking for a fun movie to go and see, I recommend it.

And if you see any underlying themes or philosophical puzzles that look like they'll pan out into something deep, please comment.

Review: Flight

Everything is spoilers. So first of all Denzel Washington is a great actor and I've never seen him be bad in anything.  This movie was no exception -- if you're looking for a good movie re:actors, Flight nails it.

But I think this is the second time in a row Denzel Washington has tricked me into watching a religious movie.  I mean, the commercials made it clear that this movie had a lot to do with alcoholism.  They did not make it at all clear, though, that it was about the struggle between drug abuse and salvation through God.  It was basically an ad for AA.

(The other movie I'm referencing, by the way, is The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic action movie in which (SPOILER!) It turns out the book is the Bible, and it magically grants the main character the ability to survive all sorts of ridiculous challenges as though he were sighted.

Last note:  The lawyer is great.  Seriously, Don Cheadle is awesome.

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I saw The Perks of Being a Wallflower -- full disclosure, I never read the book. I own it, because I remember a lot of people in high school telling me how great it was and how important it was to them.  But I didn't get through the first 20 pages.  I don't think I hated it, I think I just picked a bad time to start reading a serious book. Anyway, I enjoyed the movie.  It was hard to watch -- very "Real-life," in the way that means "Sad."  I don't normally like that kind of movie, but they did a good job.  Even though I never read the book, I was glad to see that the original author also wrote the screenplay and directed.

There was a lot of stuff where I wonder if it was in the book or not, but since the writer wrote both, I don't think it matters much.  There's a recurring point, not really a plot point, but events, where an english teacher gives the main characters classic books, the kinds of books that make huge impacts on nerdy kids' lives.  I wonder if Stephen Chbosky was trying to write a book like that on purpose.

Spoilery reviewing below the fold.

I said before that this movie was sad, and that I don't normally like that.  I mean it was the kind of painful sad, where one of the major themes of the movie is "Sometimes, for some people, life just really sucks."  It's all about high school, and that's an easy setting for incredibly dark, painful stories.  It's a lot more believable (and, in consequence, more painful) that kids will screw things up the way they do in these kinds of movies than adults, like when Charlie kisses Sam in front of Mary Elizabeth.  That hurt a lot to watch.

I don't remember exactly when it happened, but I remember figuring out when I was in high school that, statistically, the fact that bad things happen to everyone sometimes means bad things happen to some people all the time.  And it's not that they bought it on themselves, or they're bad people, or they're doing something wrong.  It's just that every time you try to pick yourself up, there's a chance it will go horribly wrong.  So it's almost necessarily true that for some people, whenever they try to make their lives better, it will go horribly wrong.

But this isn't that kind of movie.  The message of this movie wasn't "Everything sucks," it was more like "It gets better."  Which is a super-important message.