Wednesday, 23 May 2007
28 WEEKS LATER
28 Weeks Later (2007) dir. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton
“28 Weeks Later” picks up on the same rage epidemic that decimated Great Britain in the summer of 2002. The epidemic has been stemmed, the infected ragers have all died and now the U.S.-led military force policing the island is letting some citizens back onto the island. They are testing bringing in 15,000 inhabitants before allowing full integration. Proper precautions seem to have been taken, citizens are allowed only within a small zone of London, they are given new clothes and domiciles to live in, and there are armed snipers on the rooftops.
Not exactly a great place for a couple of children to grow up in, but it’s a start. Youngsters Tam (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) have been reunited with their father Don (Robert Carlyle), after Don’s traumatizing pre-credit flashback sequence which saw his cottage attacked and destroyed by the ragers. Don is burdened with the guilt of not helping his wife be taken over by the ragers, and therefore is badly in need of redemption.
After a patient, but satisfying calm before the storm, the virus does manage to reignite in the new city and so the chaos begins again. Furiously violent zombie-ism spreads like wildfire and soon it’s survival-of-the-fittest to live. The military enacts its ‘Code-Red’ and turns against the civilians, opting for a complete extermination of everybody and everything. Don, Tam, and Andy and the others have seemingly no safety net. A couple of the military personnel refuse to obey their orders to join the civilians in their escape. Who, if any, will make it out alive?
What the sequel lacks in freshness makes up in the gore-factor. There’s some truly awesome maimings, blood-splatterings and gruesome deaths. “28 Days Later” differentiated its film from other zombie films by taking their story seriously and exploring issues of loyalty, trust and psycho-crisis management (I just made that up), instead of the general humourous outlook of the Romero films. And this trend continues in the sequel.
Where the film fails, unfortunately, is in the direction of the film, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, directs each action scene with an over-the-top shakey camera, resulting in absolutely incomprehensible action. The opening scene, which is an amazing feat of brutal intensity, was completely lost on me, because I couldn’t tell who was what, where the characters were, who was getting killed etc. After the scene, I gave the Mr. Fresnadillo the benefit of the doubt and thought, because it was the first scene maybe it was by design. No. Each and every attack or action scene was filmed this way. In between the wildly nauseating swishes and random camera twists I would catch a glimpse of a face I knew. It was frustrating because the action was structured and choreographed brilliantly, the director just had no clue how to shoot it. You may remember Danny Boyle who shot the first film, used a grainy video camera, but actually shot the film with an elegant locked down style and handheld only selected shots featuring the ragers. In addition, “28 Weeks Later” was missing the likeable and interesting actor and characters to which I invested my interest. Other than Robert Carlyle the other protags are weak compared to, say, Brendan Gleeson, Naomie Harris, or Cillian Murphy.
My experience was also tainted by a low lit, slightly out of focus screening (NOTE: for Torontoians out there, please avoid the Queensway theatre #16) and a most notably three annoying Russian hulkers who were talking with deep Russian voices throughout the entire film. Urgghh. The production design of the vacated and decayed city was again terrific, it hit close to home actually as many of the scenes reminded me of Toronto Parkdale at 2:00am on a Saturday night. Go figure.
Overall, don’t believe the hype, it’s not as good as the first film, and the nausea-inducing camerawork is amplified on the big screen, I would wait for video.