Friday, January 30, 2009

28 Weeks Later (2007)

There's no real way around it - I have a huge zombie fetish. I love everything about them: the classic moaning, the shambling gait, the blood and decay. Hell, I like modern zombies, too, with their fancy running and (almost) plausible reasons for existing. Logically, I was excited to see 28 Weeks Later, as I expected more of the delicious world shown in its predecessor, and, above all, some fun zombie time. Although Danny Boyle had stepped down from the director's chair, there was never any worry in my mind that things would go awry, as I had been fairly entertained by newcomer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's previous movie, Intacto.

I don't think any other movie has ever pissed me off this much.

It starts off excellently, with a frantic and dramatic countryside scene (that may have been made by Boyle early on before he escaped to Sunshine, but I can't find definitive proof of this), yet this is the only part of the movie that I can even remotely recommend. Ok, the helicopter part (yes, that one) is mindlessly entertaining, but that's it. That's it. When the plot doesn't involve people trying their absolute hardest to be as stupid as possible, it actively destroys all sense of immersion through blatant inconsistencies. You'd think that, after having seen the entirety of Great Britain succumb to a rapidly-spreading, highly dangerous virus, a certain level, at the very least a minimum, of effort would be put into running the repopulation safely. The soldiers in the movie never actually seem to be anywhere, or do anything, unless it involves ham-fisted emotional scenes about not doing what soldiers do or sacrificing themselves for the main characters, even though they haven't been given any reason to. Similarly, almost every plot point is a convenient excuse for even more craaazy shit to happen - it's just a huge mess of inconsistencies and cheap scenarios carelessly thrown together to create a shallow sense of character and movement.

On top of that, 28 Weeks Later has none of the atmosphere that the first had. Gone is the surreal loneliness, the isolated intimacy of traveling through a desolate London and its gorgeous countrysides. In its place, we get the tried and true rule of Hollywood sequels - make it dumber, but up the scale, bodycount, and explosions - with hordes of people and infected being slaughtered, military bombings, car scenes, the whole shebang. It's mindless, grade AAA blockbuster material rolling around in the remains of a well-loved film.

Now, I'm willing to cut some slack - this is a horror movie, after all. I'm even willing to judge this movie irregardless of its relationship to 28 Days Later. At the very base of things, I go to see a horror movie to be disturbed, unsettled, and entertained by a bit of gore. Invert the food chain, bring in the primal fear of being eaten, and I can overlook your stalking ninja zombies, copy/pasted jump scenes, eye-poking, cardboard characters...whatever, I would still get a laugh out of it. 28 Weeks Later doesn't even get that concession, as each and every action scene is shot with the most abysmal shaky-cam work that I've ever seen. You want to see some rage-driven mauling? That's too bad, since you'll be too busy vomiting to make out what they're actually filming. I think it should be obvious that viewers want to see what they're watching, not to mention that I should never have to look away from a movie because it's giving me a headache. I feel a slight inclination to at least be happy that they tried something atypical in such a high-profile movie, but I can't shake the suspicion that it was done this way because they were lazy.

I believe that, if the camerawork had been more typical, this movie might have been able to score higher, possibly even into the Indifference level. However, when it all comes together, I cannot excuse an absolute tripe camera, idiotic plot, paper-thin drama, and the discarding of everything that worked about 28 Days Later.

Verdict: Epic Fail [1/10]


autothrall said...

This is a terrible sequel, felt like an ineffective and useless reboot, and let us hope there is no "28 Months Later".

Everyone who wants to see this should just watch "Day of the Dead" instead.

Narian said...

I enjoyed this movie a lot (more than Days) and I have no idea why.

is this your life? said...

Danny Boyle is apparently working with Fox to make the next one :P That may possibly turn out well, though, since he'll be doing it, not the Intacto director. I love how they ended the movie with a blatant hint at further movies this time - that's total class, right there.