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Entries in Teresa Palmer (2)

Friday
Feb012013

Warm Bodies

It wouldn’t be unreasonable for a cynic to look at Warm Bodies and fear that it will ruin zombies the way the Twilight franchise ruined vampires. Like Twilight, it takes a creature that should be scary and feared and turns it into a lover, trapped in a teen-friendly romance that is sure to be endeared by young girls across the country. Luckily, Warm Bodies is nothing like Twilight. It’s funny, self-aware and all around charming. It occasionally devolves into cheese and hits a few narrative lulls that drag the overall product down, but this is a solid film that takes a concept that really shouldn’t work at all and makes it palatable to a wide reaching audience.

Eight years ago, something happened. What that something was is unclear, but it caused the dead to rise and hunger for human flesh. Now, the humans still left alive have retreated into a confined part of their city, protected by a humongous wall. Of course, resources within that space are finite, so teams must venture out occasionally to gather more necessities. One day, a group of young kids, including Julie, (Teresa Palmer), the daughter of the city’s leader, go out to do just that. Unexpectedly, they are ambushed by the dead. However, one of the zombies actually takes a liking to her, probably due to his prior consumption of her boyfriend’s brain, which causes him to gather his memories and feelings, and he ends up protecting her from the zombie horde. For some reason, when he’s around her, he feels different and actually becomes more humanlike. Nevertheless, he still speaks in grunts with only the occasional monosyllabic word and he can’t remember his name, so Julie starts calling him R (Nicholas Hoult).

The film begins in R’s head with an inner monologue. He’s dead and his brain doesn’t quite function properly, as one would expect from a zombie, but he’s aware of this (just one of many contradictions that deviates from zombie lore). He can’t feel physical pain anymore, but he feels loneliness and lost, sometimes literally given that he tends to wander around unfamiliar places. His desire to be alive, to feel and to love is something we all feel from time to time, especially when our lives become a monotonous loop we seemingly can’t get away from. Not many movies have a set-up and structure that enable them to explore such themes, or at least not in this way, which makes Warm Bodies a unique offering. He may be a zombie, but R is one of the most likable and, oddly enough, relatable characters to be on the screen in quite some time.

Its themes don’t stop and start there, however. Other themes include some we’ve already seen, like the idea of humans living like we’re dead (which was better explored in Shaun of the Dead), and some that are a little too obvious to really work, like desegregation and acceptance in a world of people that are different than you, but the fact that these themes are there at all just goes to show how thoughtful the movie is. It doesn’t desire to be the mopey tween romance it so easily could have become. It shoots much higher. Granted, its central message of “love is what makes us human” is inherently cheesy (and it singlehandedly killed 2008’s Hancock), but Warm Bodies handles it as delicately as a similarly themed movie possibly can. When the end rolls around, you won’t be wiping away tears, but you also won’t be rolling your eyes. In fact, you’re likely to find it kind of sweet.

Although a cliché saying at this point, Warm Bodies is greater than the sum of its parts. If each part was analyzed individually, it would be easy to point out their flaws (like those aforementioned memories that aren’t seen in first person as they should be, but rather in third person, the way they were shot), yet there’s a gentleness and warmness to the film, despite some blood splatter and organ eating, that can’t be overlooked. It poses no threat to the dominance of the more brutal zombies we know and love, instead creating its own little nook in zombie lore that reinvigorates the walking dead in a way few have done before. It’s not your typical romance, but it’s the movie to see this Valentine’s Day. Men and women alike will find something to cherish.

Warm Bodies receives 3.5/5

Wednesday
Jul142010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Nicolas Cage has had a bumpy ride. Never mind his personal life and tax problems. His cinematic endeavors alone have yielded mixed results. Raising Arizona, Con Air, Face/Off, Adaptation, all have showcased his considerable skill as an actor in a variety of ways. But the last few years have shown a dip in his ability to perform. National Treasure, Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous and the atrocious Next have rounded out his recent portfolio. However, he seems to be making a comeback. With his darker, comedic turns in movies like The Bad Lieutenant and Kick-Ass, he is once again proving himself as more than capable of carrying a film. His latest movie, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice isn’t quite what you’d expect next from a re-blossoming career such as his, but its good hearted nature, interesting premise and sly humor make it worth a look.

Cage plays Balthazar, a sorcerer who has been on the search for the one known as the Prime Merlinean for centuries. On happenstance, he finds him in physics nerd Dave, played by Jay Baruchel, and takes it upon himself to teach him the ways of sorcery, explaining that sorcerers can use their brains to their fullest extent, which explains why physics comes so easy to him. He is told that he holds the power that will help him defeat Horvath, played by Alfred Molina, who plans on breaking free the evil sorcerers of the world who have been trapped inside of a wooden doll for hundreds of years. Despite his reluctance, Dave agrees to help, though he finds himself sidetracked by the beautiful Becky, played by Teresa Palmer, and unwittingly drags her into the fray.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a movie that gets by on its charm alone. It’s a marginal movie that verges on the brink of self-destruction with problems persisting throughout its runtime, but I found myself smiling and laughing nevertheless. My brain says no, but the small child within me says yes. Chalk this one up as a guilty pleasure.

Such praise may come off as negligible, but I couldn’t be happier. See, I’ve already discredited John Turteltaub as a competent action director. After two unwatchable National Treasure movies with action scenes that have the same effect as a shot of NyQuil, I didn’t expect to find much pleasure here, but I did. While still not particularly memorable, Turteltaub is getting better, although much of the action hinges on special effects with which the actors unrealistically interact.

Baruchel in particular is unconvincing, especially during the dragon chase scene midway through. He has a niche type of talent that fits certain types of movies, like this year’s She’s Out of My League, but he has a tough time pretending to be scared of something that isn’t truly there. It’s good for him then that he’s allowed to venture into other territories away from the action. When not screaming at mythological beasts or throwing his arms around to conjure up plasma balls, he gives a winning performance that makes us care about him and root for him to get the girl. He steps away from the whiny, pity me personality he has inhabited in past films and shows that he can carry some charisma when given the chance.

Still, this is a kids oriented movie, complete with inconsistencies and juvenile humor, which is to say it’s harmless. Perhaps I was in a good mood, or perhaps it was due to the humorous nods to other Disney franchises—the homage to Fantasia (which this is very loosely based on) was fantastic—but I latched onto The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and never let go. I try to walk into every movie with my mind set to neutral, but realistically, one can’t help but have predetermined thoughts on whether or not a movie will be good. In this instance, my expectations and the actual outcome did not match.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice receives 3/5