Our "split" review of Spider-Man 3 worked so well, I thought that we could do it again. This time we will tackle 28 Weeks Later from Fox Atomic. First up we have a review by Shawn Mayo then a second by Chris Dooley. Read on then give us your comments. We really want to know what you thought.
28 Weeks Later, the sequel to 28 Days Later opens today. In the original, the population of England gets infected by something dubbed the "Rage" virus and become ultra violent zombies. While the zombie premise wasn't original, what set that movie apart was the zombies were only part of the story. The real story was the survivors, how they reacted and the lengths they would go in order to survive. It was a study in human nature when faced with the ultimate fight or flee scenario wrapped inside a gory horror flick. Produced on a relatively small budget, it did well enough to spawn a sequel. However, just because a movie was inexpensive and did well, does not mean it deserves a sequel.
Taken for what it is, 28 Weeks Later is enjoyable. It has a few scenes that will make you jump and few that will make you go "Ewwww." The pacing is fast with few down moments. There is a scene towards the end that is both cool and gross at the same time involving a helicopter and the infected. The special effects are decent, lots of splattering blood, exploding heads and a downtown London in flames. Some of the effects are notable for what you don't see - namely a fully populated London. Sky shots of the city showing no life at all are downright eerie.
The plot, however is weak and feels forced. The story centers around a family who survived the original outbreak and are now at the center of the next wave. Actually, the family is responsible for releasing the virus again and this is one of the issues I have with the story. Be warned, some spoilers ahead.
The movie opens with a scene that takes place during the time the virus first ravaged the countryside. The mother and father are hiding out in a farmhouse with a few other survivors. Their kids are conveniently out of the country. The house is attacked and only the father escapes, leaving behind his supposedly dead wife. Unknown at this time, though, the wife is immune to the virus and survives.
Move forward twenty-eight weeks. All the infected are dead from starvation, clean up has begun and civilians are returning to a cleared out section that is under heavy military guard. The kids are reunited with their father, who just happens to be in charge of maintaining the building they will be living in. This is significant later on because his key card is an all access card. All returnees are told NOT to leave the secured area for any reason, so of course the two kids sneak out the first chance they get. They are found and returned to the secured area, along with their mother who they happen to find living in their old house. This really bugged me. I can buy that there might be people immune to the virus. After all, this happens all the time in nature. But, the zombies are rage fueled creatures that literally tear apart their victims. So, OK, she doesn't become a zombie, but why isn't she in multiple pieces? Anyway, thanks to the aforementioned key card and lackluster security (why does a civilian have access to the room where they are keeping the mother while they determine if she has the virus is beyond me), she ends up infecting the father and all hell breaks loose.
At this point, the movie becomes pretty much non-stop action which is good because character development has been weak. Actually, I just didn't care about the characters. The kids manage to escape along with some cannon fodder, er, other people and are trying to flee the city. The military is killing everyone including civilians in an attempt to stave off the spread of the virus. The small band moves through the city hunted by humans and military alike. There's hints of deeper themes, but unlike the original movie, the sequel can't seem to pull them off. We end up with the inevitable showdown between the two kids and their diseased dad. Needless to say, dad gets blown away but not before biting the son, who turns out to have inherited the immunity gene. He doesn't become a zombie, but is now a carrier like his mother. The movie ends with a glimpse of the future - specifically, as shown in text on the screen, 28 Days after the kids are rescued. It's not a spoiler to say the future looks pretty much like the present.
In the end I walked out entertained, hungry (I knew I should have gotten popcorn...) and thinking of how the movie tries, but falls short, of it's aspirations. If you like gore, explosions and zombies, you'll like this movie. Just don't be expecting the same depth as the original.
- Shawn Mayo
I'll start off by saying that I loved 28 Days Later and bought the DVD the day it was released. I'm not sure if it is possible to wear out a DVD or not but if you can I will end up killing this one. Now you can imagine how thrilled I was to be given tickets to a sneak preview of 28 Weeks Later.
Traffic on the way to the theater had me in a bit of a mood but this all changed once I walked in the theater door. Wandering the lobby were people in hazmat suits which seemed to disturb a few of the theater employees. If you take a look at the woman in the background in the photo above you can see what I mean. :-)
I see the first movie to be as much of a study on the human condition as it was a horror "zombie" movie while the second is all about the action. This isn't the slam it may sound like. 28 Days Later is a classic but it has been done. If I wanted to sit through the same movie again I would have stayed home and watched my DVD. 28 Weeks Later manages to keep the small-budget-one-digital-camera feel while expanding on the original survival themes. Much of the horror of not knowing what is waiting around the next corner feel of the first one is gone but it has been replaced by some great jump out and get you scenes.
The majority of the military personnel followed stereotypical "I was told it can't happen again, so we I'll ignore anyone that says different" mantra. Maybe this was done to make you like other characters that broke from their assigned roles, but this has been done to death.
Kids. Why is it that the majority of the time you introduce kids into a movie you know they will cause the downfall of human civilization? Can't they listen for once? I don't like movie kids that often.
Also in the negative, but completely out of control of the studio is "people". I was sitting near a talker. At first he didn't talk but was replying to text messages on his phone. If you have experienced this then you know that in a dark theater the light of a phone can be just as annoying as someone talking. Once he finally stopped texting, he moved on to yelling funny comments at the screen. Too bad only he thought they were funny.
This time around we have lots of rage victims. I think we have more dead in this one than we had actors in the entire first movie. Having this many dead (undead?) around also means that you need blood. LOTS of blood. I'd hate to have had the job finding enough red dye to make all of that blood.
I have never been to London, but I thought that they did a great job making you feel as if it really was a deserted city. I don't even want to think about how much time they had to spend removing cars and people from some of the panoramic scenes around the city.
Did we really need to do the "lets put all the civilians into a small enclosed space" bit? While this has been done before it turned out to be a fun scene. Can you say "shooting fish in a barrell"? Good, I knew you could.
This may be a bit obscure but I am glad that I can finally see Robert Carlyle without hearing cheesy disco music in my head. He does keep his clothes on this time too.
While this movie may not turn into the instant cult classic that 28 Days Later did, I believe that it will find it's place in our hearts and DVD collections.
- Chris Dooley
- Bloody Good Fun with '28 Days Later: The Aftermath'
Click below for more images from the 28 Weeks Later sneak preview.