Here we are again, dear readers. Another blog where I truly do not want to get personal, but this article is about more than the namesakes it features. This is about hopefully distinguishing some large arguments in regards to film comparisons by taking a fanatic point of view and applying it with facts as well as reasoning. Looking beyond aesthetics and dissecting the subjects at hand. Basically, in layman’s terms, I really hope after reading this, people stop whining about why “Warm Bodies” is the same thing as “Twilight”.
To start, those who were expecting “Warm Bodies” to be a box office failure – after opening weekend and months of advance/test screenings, as of Feb 5th 2013, the film is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 77% with an 83% audience rating, a B+ CinemaScore, and even the very finicky folks of MetaCritic give the film a 58/100 (a “yellow” score means mixed reviews). The movie also made an unexpected $20mil opening weekend haul, which looks promising re: the film making back and surpassing it’s $30mil budget. This may be mostly thanks to the PG13 rating in the market on this opening weekend which was saturated with R ratings, but it’s impressive a zombie Rom-Com beat out a cinema veteran like Sylvester Stallone! If this is the only criteria you base a film off of for it’s worth, then thanks for coming, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waitress on the way out.
Anyway, to clear out some critical cobwebs I hear from other fellow fanatics online. I had seen a complaint that “Warm Bodies” would have been original if it was released “like, 10 years ago when Twilight first came out”. “Twilight”, the first novel in the series by Stephenie Meyer, was published in 2005 (not ten years ago) with the first film having been released 2009 (still not ten years ago), while “Warm Bodies” began as a short story by the author Isaac Marion who then developed it into a book in 2010 (yes, still not ten years ago). And in the positive reviews for “Warm Bodies”, one comes from Meyer herself! The “Twilight” creator obviously needs no help in the publicity department and doesn’t need to take the time to give public kudos to a story that is now cinematically being criticized as copying the vampire saga, but she did. Refreshing that Meyer did not take a Stephen King route in regards to literary competition.
In terms of the story from the books and not the films, “Warm Bodies” is assumed to be a young adult book just because the movie was made by Summit, who churned out the “Twilight” series over the years. As someone who read “Warm Bodies” and the prequel “The New Hunger”, I can assure you that Marion’s tales are not young adult, or they could be under supervision of a parent who decides when it’s appropriate for their teen child (mid to late teens, I’d say) to read books containing many repetitions of the “F” word, detailed descriptions of zombies tearing apart humans, pot smoking, and even some zombie sex thrown in the mix. I am sure teens are no stranger to these concepts, but I hate thinking of overprotective parents coming back and blaming Marion for planting the ideas in their fragile little brains. Basically, if you think an 11 year old would have nightmares watching “The Walking Dead” on AMC, “Warm Bodies” is not appropriate yet. This is akin to “Breaking Dawn” in the “Twilight” literary series, which features the wedding night of Bella and Edward, consummating their marriage, as well as a very gruesome, violent child birth, and parents wondering when it is okay for their kids to read it. Needless to say, though, after research since I have not read the “Twilight” books yet, there appears to be no cussing or detailing of sexual encounters in Meyer’s writing (please correct me if I’m wrong, readers). Related, but I have to thank the Team Jack podcast and the ladies of Team Jack, as well as Nuttymadam, for their insight into the “Twilight” series in various forums for helping my research, by the way!
In terms of marketing and products, “Twilight” is a juggernaut. There are “Twilight” dolls, shirts, notebooks, jewelry, Burger King toys, and I’m sure any item you’d need in day to day life can be found in relation to the franchise. This is not an insult in anyway, but with all due respect, “Warm Bodies” had a very modest marketing campaign with very little merchandising before the release weekend (Hot Topic carried a few themed shirts with a promotion of free Valentines Cards if you purchased a “Warm Bodies” item), but it still did surprisingly well. Also, all the “Twilight” films have their own soundtrack for each installment, while “Warm Bodies” does not. You can, however, find the film track-listing here and it’s refreshing that you can buy all the songs from the film that you want on iTunes without being hit with the pesky “buy the whole album for that ONE song” ultimatum. I’d also suggest checking out the album “Holy Weather” by Civil Twilight, as I feel like all the songs together comprise a kind of unofficial soundtrack for the film.
Finally, I come to the heart of the matter: the story. What makes “Warm Bodies” down to the bone, no pun intended, different from “Twilight”. In Meyer’s world of sparkling vampires and menacing werewolves, life goes on as normal for those in Edward and Bella’s world, unaware of the mystery that surrounds them. Kids still go to high school, to their proms, drive in their cars, and eat at the local diner. Until Bella confronts Edward about his secret and had she not known Jacob, who planted the thought in her mind, she would have been none-the-wiser he was a vampire. The world of “R” the Zombie and Julie Grigio is drastically, heart-breakingly different. Complete collapse of civilization has left both communities, the Living and the Dead, scavenging for what they need to survive and very aware of one another. When I look at “R”, my first impulse isn’t to take him home to mom. Edward, while a bit moody for my taste, still appears human and imposes no immediate threat to his surroundings. “R” and his friends are, frankly, terrifying and blatantly not human. Sure, certain fans want to get into the aesthetic logistics of why the films are identical, but they are not sinking their teeth into the meat of both stories. Are these zombie analogies doing anything for you guys, by the way? Sorry. Anyway.
Basically, if you want to compare movies to this basic principle of the natural born killer taking a drastic personality turn outside their nature, then sure, “Warm Bodies” is the same as “Twilight”. Then “Twilight” is the same as “Terminator 2” (a robot built for the destruction of humans who instead saves man kind), and “Terminator 2” is the same as “Silence of the Lambs” (a cannibal psychopath killer spares Clarice, an FBI agent, who he’s enamored with), and “Silence of the Lambs” is the same as “Casablanca” which is the same as “The Green Mile”, and so on and so forth. As they say in “Fight Club”, everything is just a copy of a copy of a copy, right?