'Warm Bodies' mixes zombie gore with love story
What critics are saying By Jane Horwitz, The Washington Post
OK for high-schoolers and some middle-schoolers who can handle the zombified gore, the PG-13-rated "Warm Bodies" comes as an unexpected treat, successfully blending nontragic bits of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" (including a nice balcony scene!) with a zombie saga and teen-friendly humor.
The story (based on a novel by Isaac Marion) unravels a little in the second half, and resolves in a too-pat kind of way, but even so, it's a clever hybrid. Our narrator is R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie teen in a red hoodie who can't remember his full human name. He hangs out in an airport with other zombies. He shuffles along, grunting, as words don't come easily. His pal is M (Rob Corddry), and they and others go out looking for humans to catch, and for their brains to eat.
All the uninfected humans live in an urban area protected by a huge wall. Armed teams of young people venture outside for supplies and to kill any zombies who get in their way The leader of this particular city is the grim-faced Grigio (John Malkovich). One day his daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) goes out with a patrol and encounters R and his zombie cohort. There's a fight and her boyfriend (Dave Franco) dies.
R feels a connection to Julie after eating her boyfriend's brain. He protects her from the other zombies, taking her back to the abandoned airplane he calls home. They become friends and gradually fall in love. R realizes that he and M and a lot of other zombies are slowly getting better -- the disease is wearing off. Julie must make her dad understand.
The movie pushes the PG-13 envelope here and there, when zombies get blown away gorily by humans, or kill humans and eat their brains. The skeletal creatures called "Bonies" also kill and eat other, fleshier zombies. The dialogue includes a little profanity, and there is mild sexual innuendo.
Bullet to the Head (R, NEW)
Too violent for most teens under 17, this crime story (based on a French graphic novel) is narrated by Sylvester Stallone in a growling baritone, and it may interest over-17s who like their crime sagas in the hard-bitten, noirish vein. It's not great, but has a certain grungy style. Stallone -- his much worked-on face almost a mask, his muscles bulging -- plays James Bonomo, a Louisiana hit man whose honor code dictates "no women, no kids."
As the film opens, he even saves a cop named Taylor Kwan (Sung Kang) by shooting his would-be killer dead just in time. Then, in flashback, Bonomo explains how it all "went down." When he and his partner (Jon Seda) killed some gangsters in a contract hit, Bonomo refused to kill a prostitute, who then became a witness. A rival gangster comes after them, kills his partner, and later threatens the life of Bonomo's daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi), a tattoo artist. The cop Kwon has come to Louisiana to find the same gangster, who killed his partner, and that's how the honest cop and the hit man team up. Crooked cops, gangster developers and thugs abound, and the bullets and blood fly.
Point-blank shootings involve much blood and gore. Characters use cocaine and drink booze. Naked women wander through a high roller's (Christian Slater) house party. An incredibly graphic autopsy scene shows a victim's entire thorax cut open. Bullets are pried out of wounds, and the wounds sewn up. The script includes strong profanity.
Parental Guidance (PG)
Two grandparents with an old-fashioned approach to child-rearing are called on to baby-sit their 21st-century grandchildren when the kids' Type-A parents go away for work. Written by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse, and directed by Andy Fickman, this family comedy stars Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott.
Life of Pi (PG)
After a disastrous shipwreck, a young man is marooned on a lifeboat with a fearsome Bengal tiger in this adaptation of the 2001 Yann Martel novel. Directed by Ang Lee and available in 3-D, this thoughtful drama stars Suraj Sharma, Gerard Depardieu, Irrfan Khan and Tobey Maguire.
A hobbit is swept into an epic quest to help a group of dwarfs reclaim their lost kingdom from a fearsome dragon in this J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation. Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson and directed by Jackson, this "Lord of the Rings" prequel, available in IMAX 3-D, stars Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom.
A family vacationing in Thailand fights to survive the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and reunite in its wake. Written by Sergio G. Sanchez and directed by Juan Antonio Bayonam, this true-to-life drama stars Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland.
An ex-convict in 19th-century France seeks redemption while being pursued by a dogged police inspector in this adaptation of the long-running stage musical. Written by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and directed by Tom Hooper, this sweeping literary epic stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried.
During his tumultuous final months in office, President Abraham Lincoln strives to end the Civil War, unite the nation and abolish slavery. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this historical drama stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Five years after their parents' murder, two girls who had been living alone in the woods are rescued and brought to live with their uncle and his girlfriend -- but an evil presence may have accompanied them. Written by Neil Cross, Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti and directed by Andy Muschietti, this horror thriller stars Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Megan Charpentier.
After being double-crossed and framed by the mayor, an ex-cop seeks redemption and revenge. Written by Brian Tucker and directed by Allen Hughes, this city hall drama stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Two years before the Civil War, a German-born bounty hunter enlists a slave to help track his latest quarry, offering him freedom and a chance to rescue his wife from a ruthless plantation owner in return. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this violent period drama stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio.
In 1949 Los Angeles, a select group of LAPD outsiders will stop at nothing to break the ruthless mob boss Mickey Cohen's stranglehold on the city. Written by Will Beall and directed by Ruben Fleischer, this period crime drama stars Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Emma Stone.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Having developed a taste for retribution at a young age and grown up as witch-hunting vigilantes, siblings Hansel and Gretel must reckon with their dark past. Written and directed by Tommy Wirkola, and available in 3-D and Imax, with Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arteron and Famke Jannson.
A Haunted House
In this spoof of found-footage horror movies, a young couple move into a dream house and encounter a demonic presence that throws their lives into chaos. Written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez and directed by Michel Tiddes, this horror farce stars Wayans, Essence Atkins and Cedric the Entertainer.
Several stories intersect and overlap in this irreverent ensemble comedy. Cobbled together by multiple writers and directors, the film stars Kristen Bell, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Chloe Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Kate Winslet and many, many more.
After his crew double-crosses him, a professional thief who lives by his own code of ethics takes on an unlikely partner to settle the score. Written by John J. McLaughlin and directed by Taylor Hackford, this action thriller stars Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chiklis.
Silver Linings Playbook
After losing his wife, house and job and spending eight months in a mental institution, a former teacher moves in with his parents, tries to rebuild his life and bonds with an equally eccentric young woman. Written and directed by David O. Russell, this offbeat drama stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
Stand Up Guys
This gangster comedy about three aging and engaging thugs includes too much sexually explicit language (plus a graphic visual joke), strong profanity and (to a lesser degree) too much gun and other violence to be appropriate for high-schoolers under 17. The movie stars Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.
Zero Dark Thirty
An elite team of intelligence and military operatives working in secret across the globe engages in a tireless manhunt to eliminate the terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. Written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this contemporary military thriller stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton and Mark Strong.
With contributions from our wire services
A look at the star power of films now in theaters (out of four stars).
Bullet to the Head½
Hansel & Gretel
A Haunted House
Life of Pi½
Silver Linings Playbook
Stand Up Guys
Zero Dark Thirty
From our wire services