28 Weeks Later (2007)
It's All the Rage
It all makes sense. They're executing code red. Step 1: Kill the infected. Step 2: Containment. If containment fails, then Step 3: Extermination - Scarlet
Although not my usual choice of viewing I liked the original "28 Days Later", it felt different from most horror movies and managed to convey a sense of isolation whilst also managing to be scary and thrilling. In fact with the way it finished I really didn't feel it needed a sequel and although not surprised when "28 Weeks Later" was announced I did wonder how they could make it as fresh as the first. Well unfortunately they didn't and most of what appealed to me when it came to "28 Days Later" was lost in "28 Weeks Later" swapping intelligence for action and increasing the visual gore, which did make it more commercially appealing but also just another generic zombie movie.
28 Weeks after the Rage virus started to wipe out the population of Britain; the US Army has pitched up on the Isle of Dogs and is slowly restoring order with a safe area for both the survivors and those evacuated over seas. But when the Rage virus rears its ugly head again the deadly infection spreads too quickly to be controlled and so the fight for survival starts all over again.
The trouble with "28 Weeks Later" is that this time round they had a bigger budget and instead of using it to create a clever, intense sequel used it to increase the action and special effects. This gives it a completely different feel with the emphasis firmly focussed on providing entertainment through big explosions, fast paced action and generally a more commercial storyline which will appeal to the masses. All those elements in the original like the feeling of solitude and well planned plot lines are missing leaving it to feel generic, like it was any other zombie movie. Also with a bigger cast and the fact we have the American forces camped out in London to help us causes it to lack that British ness which appealed in the first movie.
There is no doubt that this time around "28 Weeks Later" definitely has a greater appeal to the cinema going public and with the fact that the American Army are helping out the Brits will increase the appeal across the waters. But the storyline this time round really is basic and despite a slightly clever build up to explain a little about how the virus spreads again it turns into a run of the mill horror. It ends up being a pretty unclever zombie movie as the main leads must not only avoid getting caught by those infected with Rage but also the threat of being blown to smithereens by the trigger happy Americans as they try to eradicate all those who are infected. It really doesn't take much thinking about and is a case of sit back and enjoy the ride.
Credit where credit is due and with the big budget the visual gore is more impressive this time round and there are numerous in your face scenes where the make up of the Rage victims is enough to give you nightmares. But there is a negative and that is this time round there is little suspense, no real frights from the unexpected and basically all the horror moments are pretty much telegraphed to prepare you for something frightening.
What is also annoying is that although we still have the underlying theme that the Rage virus may still be active there is no real tie back to "28 Days Later". There is no mention of the survivors in the original movie and by ignoring the previous movie causes "28 Weeks Later" to lack the continuity I would have liked in a sequel. I would have preferred for the main characters in this sequel to be the same as those in the original as with all the character building done in the first movie I would have cared more about them.
This leads me to my final negative and although "28 Weeks Later" features a couple of recognizable faces the acting is nothing more than average. With Robert Carlyle taking the lead for the first half of the movie his performance is surprisingly weak but then I put it down to poor character development more than his acting ability. Although I do have to admit that when it comes to the horror side of his role he is impressive, it's just a bit of a mix match. But the real issue comes to the two child leads that of Mackintosh Muggleton as Andy and Imogen Poots as Tammy. Again the acting isn't great but boils down to poorly developed characters which make it hard to relate to them as they try to survive. If I'm honest I cared so little for them that partly hoped that one of them would be dispatched in some gruesome manner so that some emotional attachment could be made. Although I have to admit that Imogen Poots has the most amazing eyes and you can end up being mesmerized by them.
As for the arrival of the Americans to help the Brits, well sadly they are a bunch of 2 dimensional stereotypes and fail to make any real impact on the storyline. Yes Jeremy Renner does do a reasonable job of being likeable but fails to make us really feel for him as he breaks rank to help Andy & Tammy.
What this all boils down to is that although commercially appealing "28 Weeks Later" for me is a disappointing sequel. All those elements that made "28 Days Later" so captivating have gone and replaced with generic big action and big effects. It will appeal too many who like fast paced horror but for me was less thrilling than the original.
Tags: Zombie Movies
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