On the Big Board
|Surprisingly good if somewhat illogical sequel
|This a great nonstop horror-thriller.
|Great style, but relied a bit too much on really stupid character actions to advance the plot.
|An out-of-left-field triumph. The series continues its explorations of primal fears and political themes. Scary and haunting.
|A different, but decent - and often scary - followup to the original hit, its main weakness is the boring main characters.
Maverick director Danny Boyle is responsible for controversial works such as Trainspotting and Shallow Grave. His first two attempts at Hollywood commercial releases, A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach, were huge disappointments, earning a combined $44 million in domestic receipts. Given that the stars of those two movies were Cameron Diaz, Ewan McGregor and Leonardo DiCaprio (in his first major post-Titanic movie), suffice it to say that no one was impressed by these results.
Boyle caught everyone off-guard with his next project, 28 Days Later. The sleek zombie thriller starred a series of character actors, none of whom was particularly well known. Brendan Gleeson had noteworthy roles in such movies as Braveheart, Lake Placid and Mission: Impossible II. Christopher Eccleston had been working with Boyle since the Shallow Grave days, but in the time before Doctor Who and Heroes, he was mainly known for a meaty role in Elizabeth. Lead actress Naomie Harris and lead actor Cillian Murphy were complete unknowns. There was simply no reason to believe that any of them could carry a successful movie. To perhaps everyone but Boyle’s surprise, 28 Days Later earned $45.1 million, more than the combined total of those two films with A-list talents.
The key to the success of 28 Days Later is not hard to quantify: fast zombies. Boyle decided that the plodding nature of the walking dead did not make for great cinema any more. In order to ramp up the action, he put humans in danger by preventing them from casually sidestepping the zombie nation. Instead, the main characters were forced to flee in terror rather than engage in conflict with their unexpectedly athletic pursuers. So successful is the concept that the Zach Snyder re-make of the George A. Romero classic, Dawn of the Dead, included this conceit. Similarly, Capcom’s re-make of Resident Evil as well as their upcoming release, Resident Evil 5, also feature zombies who can whip ass in a hundred yard dash. Boyle has single-handedly changed zombie canon.
News of a sequel should be met with much rejoicing. After all, the original was certainly open-ended and foreshadowed one. The problem is that after we spent 100 minutes getting emotionally invested in the characters, none of them returns in this outing. Instead, an entirely new talent base is in place for the sequel. Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, best known for 2001’s Intacto, is now calling the shots. While Murphy terrorizes Rachel McAdams and Batman and Naomie Harris saves Jack Sparrow, we are left with Rose Byrne (Wicker Park), Catherine McCormack (Dangerous Beauty and Spy Game), Idris Elba (The Wire) and Harold Perrineau (Lost and the Matrix sequels). This is not a trade any GM would make...well, maybe Matt Millen.
The plot starts 28 weeks later (natch) with the military finally controlling the contamination area enough to attempt to re-habitate London. A father (Robert Carlyle) meets up with his children, but the three of them are devastated to discover that their mother has aparently not escaped the virulent outbreak’s effects. Then, to their surprise, they discover her in one of the new encampments, and a joyful reunion ensues. Will the group be able to survive the further travails of post-apocalyptic horror? Somehow, we doubt all of them make it out alive. (David Mumpower/BOP)
Vital statistics for 28 Weeks Later
Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner
Harold Perrineau, Jr., Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba, Mackintosh Muggleton
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Lopez-Lavigne, Rowan Joffe, Jesus Olmo
|Click Here for Trailer
| Shane Jenkins reviews 28 Weeks Later
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