“Warm Bodies:” Jonathan Levine directs this horror comedy about a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) that falls in love with a young woman needed Julie (Teresa Palmer) in a post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s rare to find inventive genre material, especially in the well-trodden zombie sub-genre, and the Isaac Marion novel that film is adapted from is certainly that but it’s also a book with a asks its audience to set aside cynicism and embrace the fantastic in a way that is much easier to pull off in a 240 page novel than in a 97 minute film. If Levine pulls it off he’ll have finally directed a film that delivers on the promise that he showed with “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” if not “Warm Bodies” becomes the latest too quirky for its own good indie. Also starring Dave Franco, John Malkovich, and Rob Corddry.
Fun fact: R and Julie aren’t incidental character names.
“Bullet to the Head:” Sylvester Stallone stars as a hitman who teams with a Washington D.C. detective (Sung Kang) to track down a vicious ex-mercenary (Jason Momoa) who killed Stallone’s old partner. While everything about this film screams direct-to-vide0 ‘80s throwback, it’s directed by the great Walter Hill. This indicates that the film, which will largely be generic and preposterous, won’t be boring. The “Warriors” and “48 Hrs.” director hasn’t made a theatrically released film in 17 years but he is a genre filmmaker of the old school which means that he possesses a level craftsmanship that is more akin to a John Carpenter than a Paul W.S. Anderson. This film could very be Hill’s “The Ward” but it could just as easily be the grace note that caps off a career that spans five decades. And there’s an axe fight in this move. Also starring Christian Slater, Sarah Shahi, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.
Fun fact: Thomas Jane was original cast in Sung Kang’s role.
“The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia:” A sequel in name only t0 2009’s “A Haunting in Connecticut” which follows a new young family as they move into a new cursed home. As with the first “Haunting,” this film also purports to document a true story, which it doesn’t because ghosts don’t exist, but it shifts the venue to a former Georgian Underground Railroad station that meet with a fiery end. In terms of franchise potential, a series of unconnected ghost stories set in various spooky locations is good one but the first “Haunting” was a terrible movie and unless it’s turned over to filmmaker with some actual imagination, the franchise will continue to produce unremarkable product until it becomes unprofitable. Starring Chad Michael Murray, Katee Sackhoff, and Abigail Spencer.
Fun fact: A third film, “A Haunting in New York,” is already in production.
“Stand Up Guys:” Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Christopher Walken as three aged wise guys who go on one last crime spree before Walken has to kill Pacino for sins past. A decade ago, same concept, same cast, this movie would have been more like “Harry Brown” but since time passes with no regard for dignity, this film looks to be a semi-comic rumination on encroaching death and regret that has a much lighter touch than is appropriate. Is there anything sadder than the can’t-start-the-car-gag in the trailer? The film was given a limited release back in December to qualify for all the major awards but it failed to secure anything other than a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song. There’s nothing worse than spoiled Oscar bait. Also starring Julianna Margulies, Mark Margolis, and Vanessa Ferlito.
Fun fact: Barry Levinson was original slated to direct the film but was replaced by Fisher Stevens. This movie does feel like Levinson movie.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org