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Saturday, June 16, 2007


Teaser poster of 28 Weeks Later

I saw 28 WEEKS LATER nearly 28 days ago. (note: I originally started writing this review back on the 6th, but put it aside and was too lazy to complete it until now)

My sister was aching to see PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3, wanted company (her friend was busy). Dad and I had seen it few days earlier, so I wasn't interested in seeing it again (dad relented). Desperate to watch something myself, I had to choose between a 28 WEEKS LATER and SUMOLAH! (both films were showing at the same time, my first choice was actually that Zhou Xun-starring action thriller MING MING, but it wasn't showing in the morning)

Hungry for some blood and gore, I chose 28 WEEKS LATER (sorry, Zona!) despite having not seen its 2002 prequel, the Danny Boyle-directed 28 DAYS LATER starring Cillian Murphy.

Since George A. Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), zombies are often used in films as a vehicle "to criticize real-world social ills - such as government ineptitude, bioengineering, slavery, greed and exploitation - while indulging our post-apocalyptic fantasies" (from Wikipedia). Therefore, what separates zombie films from most other horror films is the fact that they are usually social commentaries, where the true monsters depicted in the films aren't really the zombies but humans themselves. Facing a threat like the zombies, some would be at their selfless courageous best, some would be at their selfish opportunistic worst. The zombies themselves are mostly mindless, flesh-hungry undead, they have no character, there aren't any stories behind them like their vampire or werewolf counterparts, or those 'Asian ghosts with a sad tragic past' you see in Grudge (Ju-on) and Ring (Ringu) films.

I didn't review 28 WEEKS LATER immediately after I saw it because I wanted to watch my DVD copy of its prequel first. Although both films have standalone stories (28 WEEKS LATER happens six months after the events of 28 DAYS LATER, and has a different cast of characters), I thought viewing both would be essential for me to understand the whole picture.

I wonder whether I can really call them zombie flicks? They seem more like a combination of different genres. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi + zombies + character study etc. Like RESIDENT EVIL (... I'm thinking of the games, not the movies) The zombies in these films are not really undead creatures, but biologically-infected people, thus giving them zombie-like characteristics.

And both films really focus more on the human characters than the zombies. To me, 28 DAYS LATER and 28 WEEKS LATER are really more about the bond forged by people during times of crisis, how some people would be at their best and some would be at their worst, without knowing it. The protagonists of these films tend NOT to be mindless one-dimensional 'character types' lining up to be murdered by the monster.

28 DAYS LATER is a more ponderous film, 28 WEEKS LATER is leaner and more action-packed. I like the fact that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo opts to do something different with the movie instead of blatantly trying to emulate what Danny Boyle did. And I definitely loved the stylish visuals employed by him, the camera work and the rapid fire cuts, he never went over-the-top like MING MING did.

Robert Carlyle running away from ZOMBIES!The plot: Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) are hiding in a cottage, sheltering from the RAGE virus that has hit Great Britain. Then they got attacked by zombies (RAGE victims), Don manages to escape, leaves Alice to die. Bad husband, bad bad husband.

28 weeks later, the virus is successfully contained, the US army finds an area in London for survivors to repopulate. Teenager Tammy (Imogen Poots) and her younger brother Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) manage to reunite with their father, Don, after returning from a school trip (that kept them safe from the Rage virus outbreak), and learn from Don about their mother's death. Of course, Don didn't really get into details.

Anyway, I'm not going to reveal much, but eventually, a carrier of a virus enters the quarantined area and infects everyone with the virus again. Chaos ensue. The US army, incapable of containing the virus, has no choice but to kill everyone in the area. Tammy and Andy, protected by US Army medical officer Scarlett (Rose Byrne) and sniper Boyle (Jeremy Renner), try to leave the place from both RAGE victims and other soldiers of the US army.

The events transpired in the film really parallels the Iraq war. And this film is pretty harsh towards the US army and their self-appointed roles as protectors. I have read numerous complaints about this film, either being too predictable, or not having enough action, yeah, this certainly isn't a mindless shoot em' up like RESIDENT EVIL, nor is it a mish mash of comedy and horror like SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but I still think 28 Weeks Later is a surprisingly enjoyable film, with really nice visuals and a great soundtrack (love the score used in both this film and 28 DAYS LATER). There are moments of this film that made me lean forward and stare at the screen in front of me, making me go 'wow'.

Anyway, there is one scene in the film that involves a helicopter, its a propeller and a horde of zombies that's worth the admission price by itself. I don't mind waiting for 28 MONTHS LATER in the future (presumably set in Paris)

Anyone else who had seen 28 WEEKS LATER? What do you think? Am I the only one who enjoyed it?

BTW: Pretty interesting to see Rose Byrne in a Danny Boyle film (SUNSHINE) just weeks ago, and then see her again in a sequel of a Danny Boyle film. Will I see her in more Danny Boyle films?

28 WEEKS LATER trailer