Movie Reviews: ‘Side Effects’ And ‘Warm Bodies’

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 63 views 

For the past two years, I reviewed films every Friday on KARZ-TV’s morning show, but the show was canceled last month as part of KLRT-FOX’s purchase by KARK’s parent company Nexstar Broadcasting Group.

Last week, Fox 16 premiered its new morning show, Good Day Arkansas, and I’m moving over to that program to review films every Friday morning. I’m very excited about the lively new show and Talk Business is a content partner with Fox 16, which works out rather well for everyone.

On last Friday’s Good Day Arkansas, I reviewed “Side Effects” and “Warm Bodies.”

“Side Effects” is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who claims this is to be the last film he will direct. If so, it was lucky for him to go out on a high note. It stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta Jones and Channing Tatum.

Mara plays a young woman struggling with stress and depression after her husband, Tatum, is released from prison after four years for insider trading. After she tries to harm himself, she begins to see a psychiatrist, played by Jude Law, who prescribes various prescription drugs to tamper her depression. That approach doesn’t seem to work, so he puts her on an experimental drug. He happens to be compensated by the drug company as part of the study creating a conflict of interest that comes back to haunt him.

The drug causes side effects, such as sleepwalking, which is minor when considering the other side effect is Mara’s waking up one morning to find a dead body in her apartment. The first half of the film deals with Mara’s struggle, her attempts to start over with Tatum and also looks at our nation’s current culture of prescribing drugs that may not even be needed.

The film takes an unexpected turn in the second half and delves into a mystery that I’ll avoid describing lest I accidentally give anything away. However, the twist turns the film into almost two separate movies and with a less experienced director than Soderbergh it might not have worked, but here it does.

This is Rooney Mara’s second major starring role, with “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” being the first, and once again she proves her talent and versatility playing a woman dealing with crushing depression.

I give this film a 8.5 out of 10.

We’ve all seen plenty of teen romantic comedies and many of us have seen our share of zombie films or zombie television shows. But how about a zombie romantic teen comedy? That is the basic premise of “Warm Bodies”.

“Warm Bodies” stars Nicholas Hoult as “R”, a zombie with a witty and insightful inner monologue, but since he’s a zombie he can only verbally grunt and moan while chasing humans to eat.

The world has been almost overrun by zombies, created by a mysterious plague, but there remains one city protected by a massive wall while humans attempt to survive by raiding the surrounding area scavenging for supplies. During one expedition R sees Julie, played by Teresa Palmer and for him it’s love at first sight, with John Waite’s 80’s classic “Missing You” rising to a roaring crescendo in his inner monologue the moment he see her blasting away a shotgun at attacking zombies. The sight of her causes something human to stir in R’s zombie soul and he saves her from the attacking horde.

Julie is at first afraid of R – him being a zombie and all – but while they hide out in his home that was once a functioning airplane she begins to see R slowly becoming human and slowly begins to falls for him. Of course, it’s doubtful her father who runs the gated city, played by John Malkovich, would ever accept his only child dating the undead, creating a very post-apocalyptic take on Shakespeare’s classic themes.

Though the film has zombies eating humans, the filmmakers tamped down the gore to retain a PG-13 rating. I really enjoyed the filmmakers’ take on teen romance and their belief that even in a world overrun by zombies, in matters of the heart, some things never change.

I give this film a 7.5 out of 10.

You can view my segment on Good Day Arkansas by clicking here.

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