Movie Review Warm Bodies

Movie Review Warm Bodies

Spoiler alerts.

A 2013 romcom with zombies. It has a great premise but it is let down by rather dull acting and convenient exposition. The change in the zombies as they return to life and discover love is rather heavily contrived.

The film works best when showing events from the zombie point of view, especially that of R (Nicholas Hoult). There is a dry witty humour to his asides such as regrets that he can’t shuffle round any faster.

The human characters, including female lead and love interest, Julie (Teresa Palmer) (R & Julie = Romeo & Juliet, with the rival families being the living and the dead, are less interesting. While R’s fixation on Julie is explained by him picking up memories of her boyfriend (who he ate) her acceptance of him is rooted in nothing other than him sparing her life.

R’s best friend among the zombies initially tries to kill Julie but then instantly changes his mind even before he shows signs of a heart beat and potential love. Later, Julie’s best friend, Nora, just takes the zombies turning nice for granted.

The zombification is treated as a temporary illness from which the infected and dead, recover to re-join the living once the army (represented by John Malkovitch) can be convinced not to shoot them all. Only the well-presented boneys, (the completely skeletal cadavers) are beyond hope as they even mistake zombies for living food (which is what they are turning into).

Some scenes make little sense and border on the necrophilic. R and Julie share a passionate kiss in the fountain pool even before she learns that he has returned to life. Yeuch! This was a great idea for a movie, but ultimately a wasted opportunity, but a very original angle on the walking dead genre nevertheless.

Arthur Chappell



Movie Review – Ant Man

Movie Review – Ant Man

Spoiler alerts

Marvel’s latest big action hero movie is actually about the smallest hero of them all, a man able to shrink to the size of an ant, as well as controlling an army of ants.

Given the darker tone the overall Superhero franchise is taking, the lightweight humour of Ant Man works very well, without turning the movie into self-parody, and preventing it being part of the overall canon.

Paul Rudd is on form as the thief turned hero, sucker-punched by Michael Douglas’s Henry Pym into taking on the armoured ant suit and saving the World.

In the comics Pym himself was Ant Man and the original creator of Ultron, though the Avengers movies gave that duty to Tony Stark. The film has Pym as a former user of the suit now looking to  train his younger replacement when the bad guy tries using the terrible weapon of shrinkage for military purposes.

The most reluctant of all heroes must stop a deranged villain using the shrinking skills to create his own army. Evangeline Lily is lovely as the love interest who will eventually become The Wasp. Corry Stoll is a pretty by the numbers bad guy.

The film has a lot of invention, as with Ant Man’s fight with the minor Avenger, The Falcon, and a fight on a toy train (a scene stealing Thomas The Tank Engine) from both Ant Man’s perspective as a train in danger of derailing, and an ordinary adult point of view of a plastic toy tipping over onto the carpet.

There are many homages to other movies, especially Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Mission Impossible, and especially The Incredible Shrinking Man (Ant Man briefly plunges into a sub-atomic universe).

Sometimes the humour gets irritating, as with the use of Ant Man’s co-thieves who really bring nothing to the story. Douglas brings gravitas to his role and looks more uncannily like his father, Kirk, than ever. The post-credit scene has some bearing on the next Captain America movie.

Arthur Chappell

Movie Review – Mr Holmes

Movie Review – Mr Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is going through quite a revival lately with TV shows like Sherlock and Elemental as well as the Robert Downey Junior movies. Most versions are putting a modern spin or 21st century perspectives on the stores with varying degrees of success so it is great to see a gentle Holmes story set in its rightful time and place with no modern appendages. This is a version Arthur Conan Doyle would certainly approve of.

This is a simply wonderful movie about the last days in the life of the great detective, as he struggles with the beginnings of Alzheimer’s by trying to remember why his last case went tragically wrong even after it was solved, and he comes to terms with a potentially fatal mystery surrounding his bees too. He has barely returned from a visit to Japan, but he can’t even recall the name of the man who invited him to go, so he fears for his chances of resolving the questions that still haunt him.

Holmes (Ian McKellan), is now 93, and in 1947, Watson, Mrs Hudson and Mycroft are already dead (seen only in fleeting flashbacks). He lives in a Sussex seaside village guesthouse with a woman and her fourteen year old son, who is in awe of Holmes, who teaches him about bee-keeping. The boy is brilliantly played by Milo Parker.

Holmes has vague memories of a case from fifty years before; and he is struggling to write his own account of it. He has been angered to find out how much Watson has distorted and exaggerated about him over the years. He also dislikes how he is portrayed in the movies of the 1940’s. We see him watching one which is a great parody of the Rathbone movies.

A beautiful sad gently paced and yet also uplifting movie.

Arthur Chappell

Movie Review – Jurassic World

Movie Review – Jurassic World

I had high hopes for Jurassic World. It promised from its trailers to be what I hoped to see when opening John Creighton’s original Jurassic Park novel back in 1990, three years before the first movie came out. I had hoped then that the novel would feature a fully functional densely populated theme park.

Instead, the first movie dealt with a handful of people with over-focus on two children. The new film manages to repeat that formula, leaving most of the park visitors largely ignored outside of the Pterodactyl attack. We mainly deal with a hunky velociraptor hunter, Chris Pratt, playing macho hero to the hilt by trying to be both Indiana Jones and Patrick Swayze, with a touch of Dinosaur Whisperer.

The female lead is Bryce Dallas Howard, who keeps heaving her bosom to camera as if trying to show us that she is more worthy of our attention than any dinosaurs on screen.

Of all the cast members of the previous three movies, only B D Wong, playing the geneticist who created the first movie’s monsters returns. This film really needed Sam Neill or Jeff Goldblum on board. Only Vincent D’Onfrio, as the guy out to use raptors for military purposes really stands out because viewers know he is bound to come to a bad end.

The science is extremely poor, even to the layman. This is the Dr. Pepper ads ‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen’ philosophy in action. The Indomitous Rex is just big and mean, and dominates the action. The message is that the park’s capitalist need for bigger, better and more dangerous is also the philosophy of the movie-makers. They don’t think ordinary dinosaurs can carry the story alone. What I do like is that the main dinosaurs effectively steal back their park. Raptors, T-Rex and the Mosasaurus unite to tear down the bigger, better than nature genetic monstrosity, but they leave the humans alone as they achieve it.

The human characters have little to do but run and hide a lot. Howard outruns the T-Rex she leads to its Rocky V Apollo Creed showdown with Indomitous even after the first film showed a T-Rex outrun a jeep going at 60 miles per hour. She is wearing high heels when she does it.

There are big disappointments. I wanted to see dinosaurs attack the monorail network running round the park. The futurism reminded me that this was Future-World when Jurassic Park was more like Creighton’s Westworld.

The most ludicrous touch was the gyroscopic bubble-cars the kids could ride round in independently, taking them anywhere they wanted, rather than on a set track. How was any driver not going to get lost or roll right down a dino-throat with those? Similarly, guests are allowed to row boats down the rapids unaccompanied in dinosaur infested areas.

A very disappointing spectacle.

Arthur Chappell