DVD Review: 28 Weeks Later
Release Date: October 9, 2007
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
· Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
· Robert Carlyle
· Rose Byrne
· Jeremy Renner
· Harold Perrineau
by Alex Keen
Published: October 9, 2007
After "28 Days Later," after "Shaun of the Dead," after "Dawn of the Dead," and even after "Dead Rising," "28 Weeks Later" has an incredible catalog of zombie stories to compete with. Within the past five years, the zombie genre has had more success than failure; more upside than down. So, I guess now would be the opportune time to start serializing the winners, right? Wrong.
"28 Weeks Later" picks up after the events of "28 Days Later" almost at the 28 Week point. Before the movie goes by its namesake, it gives the new characters some back-story to work from so that the audience will know what they were up to during the zombie infection. The main characters are the four members of the Harris family, played by Robert Carlyle, Catherine McCormack, Imogen Poots, and Mackintosh Muggleton. This family is separated and eventually annihilated by the initial rage infection and the re-infection that transpires after 28 Weeks. They are aided in storytelling by three military officers, played by Rose Byrne, Harold Perrineau, and Jeremy Renner.
After the events of "28 Days Later," London is locked down by a joint force of the US Military and NATO troops. After the infection is eliminated in a portion of London, survivors are brought back to a safe "green zone" protected by the military. And then, in true zombie movie fashion, the safety zone becomes the least possibly safe place on the planet. London becomes re-infected and all essential and non-essential characters start running for their lives.
While "28 Weeks Later" starts off on par with "28 Days Later," after about 40 or 50 minutes the movie's grip on what is believable and acceptable slips away. By the conclusion, "28 Weeks Later" has completely abandoned all that made "28 Days Later" fun and interesting. Part of the reason for this collapse is the complete loss of tension and an absolute void of thrills. Sure, the second half is gory and creepy. Nevertheless, I eventually stopped caring about the characters. Unlike good horror movies, like "Alien" or "Halloween," "28 Weeks Later" spends too much time on explosive squibs and not enough time on individual characters.
Even more problematic than the collapse in tension is the creation of a super zombie. Instead of "28 Days Later"'s zombie horde that overwhelmed its victims, "28 Weeks Later" uses the concept that one lone mindless zombie can survive and act as a villain. This is the greatest flaw that a zombie movie can make. By design, zombies are mindless beasts of rage that have only purpose - to eat. I don't accept the idea that one zombie is special, nor that one zombie would be able to follow individuals as far as this one does. This premise kills the conclusion of the movie and ear marks this movie as one made just to piggyback on the success of the original.
I had really hoped "28 Weeks Later" would avoid the grand tradition of sequels being worse than the original. However, because the creators of this movie have zero idea why the plot in "28 Days Later" works as well as it does, they are bound to screw it up. And in hindsight, all of the aesthetic decisions look more like imitation than homage.
The cinematography, editing, and soundtrack are as good as those in "28 Days Later." In fact, they are so similar that it barely feels like the filmmakers tried anything new. And, the acting, which was superb in "28 Days Later," suffers as well. Robert Carlyle has the best performance in the movie and he still doesn't hold a candle to Cillian Murphy. His support, from McCormack, Poots, and Muggleton is practically nonexistent. And things are made even worse by the wooden performances of Byrne, Perrineau, and Renner. None of them are up to the task of carrying this movie and merely stand around waiting to eaten alive.
Overall, I had high hopes for this movie and I was incredibly let down. Even worse, is the open-ended conclusion makes it apparent that Fox Atomic isn't done skinning the corpse of "28 Days Later." That's too bad because I'd think in the long run they will be doing the original a disservice.
Special Features include an audio commentary, deleted scenes, and some featurettes. While the deleted scenes and featurettes are run of the mill, the animated graphic novel is a pretty cool special feature. I recommend them to anyone who actually liked this movie and perhaps for fans of the original movie. The commentary is technically interesting but not incredibly fun. Again, only a feature for fans of the flick itself.