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Someone Breaks Quarantine To Give Us A Review Of 28 WEEKS LATER!!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I liked Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s first film, INTACTO. I didn’t love it, but I thought it was muscular filmmaking, and I was intrigued when they hired him to direct the follow-up to Danny Boyle’s not-a-zombie movie. Did he pull it off? Has he maybe even topped the original? That’s what I’ve been hearing, and today’s reviewer had a chance to check it out already:

I don’t know about you, but on paper I wasn’t entirely sold on 28 Weeks Later, an entirely new cast, a couple of kids among the leads and what sounded like a horribly laboured allegory for US/British involvement in Iraq. Now I loved the opening of the first one, but thought it took a distinct turn for the worse the moment they reached Christopher Eccleston and his not-so-merry men. So, it’s a pleasure to report that 28 Weeks Later is, in most respects, far superior to the first film – it’s a nasty, unpleasant, edge-of-the-seat ride that pretty much takes the premise of the first movie, adds a bucket load of cash and turns it into a top-notch horror/action movie. In short it’s pretty much the leap that Alien made to Aliens or Blade did to Blade II – which probably means we’re due a ropey third instalment around 2009. 28 Weeks Later opens in a farmhouse where a small band of survivors are holed up during the initial outbreak. It starts so deliberately quietly and slowly (with a lovely candlelit scene between Robert Carlyle and screen wife Catherine McCormack) that you might wonder whether you’ve accidentally wandered into a different movie entirely. Needless to say, it soon goes horribly, horribly wrong and the infected arrive and proceed to wreak merry havoc. Now I thought they were pretty unpleasant in the first film but the way they’re portrayed in this one is just downright nasty – no comic relief, no jokes, just an awful lot of puking blood, snarling and biting. Carlyle escapes but not before doing something pretty downright awful that manages to be simultaneously sort-of-understandable and downright spineless. The rest of the film plays out six months later, when he’s reunited with his kids who escaped the outbreak because they were overseas on a school trip. Anyway, the US army is overseeing the return of around 15,000 Britons to a quarantined area called the green zone. They’re settled in Canary Wharf (a huge office complex for anyone not familiar with that end of London) and, amid the expected scenes of desolate emptiness (arguably even more impressive this time round and presumably the result of a fair bit of digital car and people removal), we slowly get to meet a few of the American soldiers – although it’s probably the film’s biggest flaw that they don’t really register as characters in their own right. Now there’s no point in giving any more of the plot away because, as you’d expect, everything goes horribly, horribly wrong. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes Danny Boyle’s visual style from the first movie and runs with it – crafting a great series of action set pieces. There’d napalm, chemical weapons and snipers while the Isle of Dogs gets comprehensively trashed as the body count runs into the thousands. There’s a chase through Parliament Square that ends up in Charing Cross station (as a Londoner, one of the real joys of this film is that it gets all the geography absolutely spot on – there’s no thinking oh, hang on, that isn’t there) and then down into the Underground where, in a sequence that suggests more than a passing acquaintance with The Descent, our ever-dwindling band of survivors head down into pitch black darkness. Oh, and the station’s full of decaying corpses, rats and zombies. What’s great, is that every so often you latch onto a character – think ‘oh, that’s obviously the hero’ or ‘well, she’s the heroine’ only to watch them get torn to bits ten minutes later. There’s nothing predictable about who survives and who doesn’t (with one very obvious exception) and the film cleverly wrong-foots you on exactly who’ll be dismembered/eaten/puking blood next. In fact, it’s so effective that even innocuous scenes had me wincing, simply because I was expecting something absolutely awful to happen and there’s no doubt that Fresnadillo enjoys toying with his audience in this way. It’s not all great though – a scene involving a helicopter blade and a bunch of zombies in an overgrown Hyde Park didn’t work for me – mainly thanks to the CGI helicopter – but if you want gore with your zombie movie then this is the scene that gives it to you in spades. Some of the characters are a bit on the thin side – Harold Perrineau is rather wasted and the teenage angst between Robert Carlyle and his kids, while an attempt to ground the film in realistic human emotions, doesn’t entirely come off. Finally, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised not to have been hit over the head with an elaborate metaphor for US involvement in the Middle East (surely the cinematic cliché for 2007), although a scene where the soldiers, unable to distinguish between refugee and zombie, are ordered to fire on the civilian population, will inevitably cause highbrow critics to ponder whether the film is a damning indictment of the Iraq situation. For my money it’s all a bit like 300 – you can read whatever you like into it, although Fresnadillo has certainly cribbed bits from television newscasts of troops in Bagdad and Basra . In fact, the entire film seems predicated on the premise that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Basically, everything that does go wrong happens because someone ignores the (eminently sensible) rules, tries to save someone, or thinks they know better. So there you have it – 28 Weeks Later, a cracking action/horror film and hopefully the first of many decent summer movies. Hell, it even makes you think a bit. But not too much…
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