Friday, October 18, 2013

Warm Bodies vs. Twilight

I’m going to take a break tonight from my usual roll and watch schedule. Today, thanks to TiVo, I saw Warm Bodies. I meant to see it in the theaters, but I’d been having some money issues when it was out and missed my chance. Since then, I’ve heard many different things about the film. Looking back, now that I know better, the most shocking thing I was told was how it was a carbon copy of Twilight.

Ok. What?

Granted, the advertisement campaigns did lead me to believe that might be true. Posters looked suspiciously similar and there was the parallel of a reimagining of a supernatural race. Out of context, both new-takes sound ridiculous to me: vampires that can not only exist in sunlight but sparkle and zombies that can not only think and speak but can heal their affliction. A horror traditionalist would be quick to turn up their nose. I’m a big fan of new twists and creativity but, I’ll admit, I have a hard time swallowing those new alternate racial traits.

As much as it is an easy accusation to believe, Warm Bodies is nothing like Twilight. In fact, the only thing the two movies really seem to have in common is a minor connection to the Romeo and Juliet theme.

With all the many differences between the two films, there are three very basic and glaring ones that make me wonder how anyone ever even managed to draw parallels.

1. Genre

Just because two people kiss in a movie, doesn’t automatically make it a romance genre film. Plenty of movies have an undertone of romance but concentrate on other aspects. Just because the directors of the Transformer films have ended just about all of them with a kiss between the two leads, doesn’t make those movies a romance. Equally, not every film with a supernatural creature in it happens to be a horror. Take Blade, for instance. Although that movie is dripping in vampires, it’s primarily an action/adventure.

Genre becomes important, especially in the advertising of movies. The moment something is labeled a romance or a sci-fi or a horror film, fans that dislike those mentioned are alienated. We’re almost all affected by this effect. When I think of a drama, I automatically think of someone dying tragically. When I’m not in the mood for a good cry, I’ll avoid dramas like the plague. Oversaturation of certain movie recipes has taught us to expect certain things about genres. Oft-times it’ll be those lessons that aid us in deciding whether or not to see a movie.

Twilight and Warm Bodies are often slipped into the same romance genre. Where, it’s true, both of them center on a basic love story that is not the end of what they are. Twilight is not a horror. It’s got vampires and werewolves, but it’s not a horror. If anything, it’s a romantic action film that’s light on action. Warm Bodies is a romance/comedy/horror. There are definite and easily noted horror scenes involving zombie attacks as well as easily noted comedy scenes that lack any real horror or romance and some very clear romance scenes. There’s a kind of triad of balance. Where it’s true the two movies share a common bond in romance, that’s where that bond ends. The genres become different from there and they’re no longer comparable on that level.

2. Actors

This is really only a glaring difference if you’re exposed to interviews with actual actors or behind the scenes information.

Look up Twilight interviews. Seriously. Minimize this page and go look some up on youtube. After about fifteen minutes it will become obvious that no one, not a single person in this world, hates the Twilight movies more than the people who acted in them. How much does that suck for them? These people have tied their faces to characters that have either gained them horrible press or that they hate for other reasons. That will stick with them. A decade from now people will still be calling Robert Pattinson “Edward.” I know, because Starship Troopers came out in 1997, was a smaller film, and Casper Van Dien is still known as the bug guy.

If you do the same search for Warm Bodies interviews, you’ll get vastly different results. All those actors wanted to be there, looked forward to it. When you consider this difference, remember how much better people do their jobs when they absolutely love what they’re doing.

3. Story

By far, this is the most important difference. Both movies have two incredibly different storylines. They focus on highlighting different aspects of their alternate genres.

Warm Bodies, at its core, is an allegory of the healing power of positivity. In a desolate world, love is what brings two very different people together in order to change their reality. Twilight is an allegory of many things, none of which actually fall in line with change. You start out with a relatively normal world and end in a relatively normal world with one extra vampire. Redemption vs. hardcore romance; they are NOT the same thing.

In conclusion, we’re looking at two very different movies that have been tied together by people who likely haven’t actually seen one or either of them. Warm Bodies and Twilight are different, but there’s a choice they bring up that helps spread a very important message.

No one but you gets to tell you what movies to like.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Resident Evil (2002)

Number Rolled: 18
Movie Name/Year: Resident Evil (2002)
Genre: Horror
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W. S. Anderson
Actors: Ryan McCluskey, Oscar Pearce, Indra Ove, Anna Bolt, Joseph May, Robert Tannion, Heike Makatsch, Jaymes Butler, Stephen Billington, Fiona Glascott, Milla Jovovich, Eric Mabius, Colin Salmon, Martin Crewes, Pasquale Aleardi, Michelle Rodriguez, Liz May Brice, James Purefoy, Michaela Dicker

When the T-virus is released in a secret lab known as “the Hive,” an artificial intelligence named “The Red Queen” takes over in an attempt to keep the virus from reaching the population above. This results in the death of all the occupants of the Hive. The company responsible, Umbrella, sends a team into the structure to find out what happened.

Video game movies have some of the worst reputations among fans. Is it a wonder why? Hardcore gamers tend to have a very attentive eye for detail, especially when dealing with their favorite games. So, when a movie is made targeting them, a gamer tends to want as little deviation as possible. The problem is, with a player’s free will and interpretations coming into play with the game and not in the movie, there will always be a lot more deviation than what people expect. It is for that reason that I tend to rate video game movies on their own merit, without taking into consideration their inspiration.

When taken on its own merit, Resident Evil is a fast-paced, action-packed horror movie with a great deal of substance. There are memorable lines, a good plot and several very good actors throughout. One could argue that the majority of the male actors look a bit like they were all cut from the same cloth, but that could just be coincidence. If it was done on purpose, however, it was a dumb decision to make. That particular casting choice made many of the characters seem one dimensional and replaceable.

Even with its faults taken into account, I’m still a big fan of “Resident Evil” and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4/5
Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

P.S. This movie is the first of a series based on the video game with the same name.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Zenith (2010)

Number Rolled: 10
Movie Name/Year: Zenith (2010)
Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller
Length: 92 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Vladan Nikolic
Writer: Vladan Nikolic
Actors: Peter Scanavino, Jason Robards III, Ana Asensio, Didier Flamand, Al Nazemian, Zohra Lampert, Moises De Pena, Tim Biancalana, Michael Cates, Ohene Cornelius, Arthur French, Bernie Rachelle, Jay Sanders, Raynor Scheine, David Thornton, Gordon Joseph Weiss

In the year 2044 humans are genetically mutated to feel nothing but happiness. Constant happiness, with no negative emotions to balance off of, becomes a burden, causing people to become completely numb. In this strange, not-so-perfect, utopian world, Jack deals expired drugs with side effects that allow his customers to feel pain. When a man shows up to give Jack a tape of his father, he begins an investigation into the conspiracy that started it all.

One of my all-time favorite book series begins with the line, “The author is a liar.” (“Wit’ch Fire” of The Banned and the Banished series by James Clemens.) So when this movie started with some similar warnings as well as a claim of having been created by “Anonymous,” I became instantly intrigued. When I took that into account with the strange and somewhat untouched storyline, my expectations rose.

I was right that the story would be incredible. I found the majority of the movie to be unexpected and very in depth. Yes, the story had some issues. One of the most glaring of them was that, as far as I know, genetics can’t change the entire world in only thirty years. I’m not a scientist, so I might be wrong. None-the-less, I couldn’t wrap my mind around that. If it’d been 3044 instead, it wouldn’t have been an issue. There were several other problems as well, but I can easily suspend disbelief in most of those cases.

Even with that one story-line issue, the plot really was very good – it was the portrayal itself that I had issues with. At some points it felt like the director had so little faith in the intelligence of the audience that I was actually offended.

When I started writing (fiction, not blogs), my uncle gave me this advice: “You can show people or you can tell them. Nobody is going to want to be told everything, it gets boring. That’s why kids fall asleep in school. You have to show.” I believe this applies to movies as well. Sure, sometimes a little narration is necessary because no one wants to sit and watch a six hour movie. Plenty of movies begin with that touch of voice-over work or some scrolling words to depict the past. However, in “Zenith,” the voice-over doesn’t end. I spent the entire movie being told things that I think the movie should have shown me. Other times, the narration told me stuff I’d already been shown and gave off an air of redundancy.

Though I had only one problem with the movie itself, it’s a really big problem in my eyes. If the story hadn’t been so engrossing, it would have been a complete deal-breaker for me.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.5/5
Overall Opinion – 3/5

The Random Rating: R – for prolonged nudity, mild sex scenes and drug use

Movie Trailer: