28 Weeks Later (2007)
By: Markus Zussner on February 11, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Fox (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 100 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Imogen Poots
Screenplay: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo, Enrique López Lavigne
Country: UK
28 Weeks Later picks up pretty much where the last film ended. Don (Robert Carlyle) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack) take refuge in a remote country farmhouse with a small group of fellow survivors. Meanwhile rage infected crazies run rampant across the countryside; eyes glowing like red hot embers, mad with fury and rage and looking for lunch on legs. A young lad who is being chased by the infected ends up at Don and Alice's door. After they let the frightened young boy into the house, it is not long before they are besieged by hordes of the infected and soon they're breaking into the house, causing utter chaos and gory carnage. As Don attempts an escape the infected get in-between him and his wife. As Alice cry's out for help, Don literally freaks out in fear and leaves his wife behind to suffer her fate. He barely gets away with his life.

Flash forward 28 weeks later and an American led NATO force are utilised to get the country back on its feet again. They supervise the repopulation of a small sector of London where survivors are provided new homes and a new life in a secure high-rise apartment with the eventual aim to make London city a safe zone and thus bringing the country's infrastructure operational again. The disease at this point has starved itself out so there is no fear of being chased and chomped on, but many areas of London are still rife with disease and littered with decaying corpses. A major clean up is yet to be done so all other sectors are off limits. Don now has the position of Building Supervisor which gives him security access to all areas of the apartment complex. The latest survivors are flown into London. Onboard is Don's Son Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Daughter Tammy (Imogen Poots) who have been in America during the whole virus outbreak and now are finally reunited. Don tries to explain as best he can what had happened to their mother without implicating himself in her death. What would Andy and Tammy think if they knew that their father had left their mother for dead because he was a coward? This causes some problems when Mum turns up alive looking like she was dragged through razor wire backwards and with a nice juicy bite mark on her arm. Major Scarlett (Rose Byrne) discovers that Alice has the rage virus in her blood but she is not affected by it. Alice is a carrier and her blood could hold the clue to a cure. This is where the shit hits the proverbial helicopter blades. Don, in an uncomfortable reunion begs Alice for forgiveness and she gives it to him via a bloody sloppy kiss. And so begins the re-infection. This is where Maj Scarlett, Sgt Doyle (Jeremy Renner), and Helicopter pilot Flynn (Harold Perrineau) step up the action. They abandon their posts and get into ass-kicking mode as they attempt to get Andy and Tammy out of London before NATO Forces initiate their code red i.e. Air strike the safe sector with hi-explosive incendiary bombs. What's more, Doyle and Scarlett also have a horde of infected chasing their tails keeping the tension running on hi-octane. Gen Stone (Idris Elba) gives the order to go code red. Nobody gets out alive. Has Andy inherited his Mothers genes? Could he become a carrier if he is bitten? Is Andy the answer to infection, or a cure?

Oh it's been so, so long since I have seen a sequel worthy of the original. I don't know how many times Aliens gets used as an example for the standard a sequel should live up to. For me 28 Weeks Later surpassed the original and expanded the story to another level. Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto) from Spain was hand-picked by Danny Boyle to take the helm of 28 Weeks Later, due to his commitments on Sunshine. Boyle took Cillian Murphy with him for the leading role in Sunshine, so anyone hoping to find out the fate of the original characters will be shit out of luck. Boyle is still on board as Executive Producer which in theory means he does nothing on the production of the film other than collect pesos. Rumour has it that Boyle did direct some of the scenes. It is speculated that Boyle shot the opening sequence of the film and there are set photos on the net showing Boyle directing the cast in the opening sequence and you'll even get a glimpse of Boyle on set in, Code Red: The making of 28 Weeks Later, on this disc. Just check out the awesome opening scene where Don is running like a maniac for his life as the infected in the background are just gaining on him at lightning speed. In interviews, Boyle continues to state that his role was Executive Producer only. It is said that Boyle really wanted Fresnadillo to shine as a director and for the masses to associate 28 Weeks Later with Fresnadillo rather than himself. This was probably the reason Fox Atomic played down any creative associations during production of 28 Weeks Later with Boyle and it is said that this may have hurt the marketing campaign for the film. I mean we are talking Danny Boyle who has the reputation of being one of the hottest directors in England. You'd think you'd want to slap his name somewhere in the campaign. Quite frankly I don't care. Boyle did wonders with 28 Days Later and choosing Fresnadillo to helm 28 Weeks Later was certainly a good move considering the end result.

In regard to Fresnadillo's direction he pulls no punches. The infected seem to move faster than ever before. They certainly are more enthusiastic when biting down on limbs and necks, hence lots of chunky bites and arterial spray. One of my favourite scenes is a helicopter scene where Flynn takes on a horde of infected by tilting the helicopter forward and using the rotor blades like a lawn mower to cut them down into little bloody chunks. It's a gory, hilarious salute to the helicopter scene in Romero's Dawn of the Dead. It also reminds me of the motor mower zombie slaughter scene in Jackson's Brain Dead. 28 Weeks later certainly ups the Gore quota and there's plenty of it but just enough so as not to be ruin the films storyline.

Character development for 28 Weeks Later is tight. All the characters are very likeable and you feel a great deal of sympathy for them, so when the characters start to drop, you really do get a kick in the nuts. The character of Sgt Doyle played by Jeremy Renner shows that he can easily play the macho yet sympathetic hero role as well as portraying someone truly evil like his lead character in Dahmer. Robert Carlyle's depiction of Don Harris is excellent. He plays the character of Don down with professional subtlety and you really feel for him especially when he gets infected and is the cause for reinfection. Don the survivor becomes Don the sympathetic and unsuspecting protagonist. Sydney born actress Rose Byrne who plays Major Scarlett puts on her best American accent and convincing it is, and she certainly looks good in fatigues. Byrne comes across as tough yet vulnerable and she lets that vulnerability show, especially in the very latter parts of the film, certainly as things go from real bad to disastrous. Both Byrne and Renner show how vulnerable a hero type can be and that they have the same human traits as everyone else. It was good to see them come across as real people who know their profession, rather than creating the characters as Gung-ho and larger than life. This certainly was a main strength of the first film and was retained thankfully in the sequel.

The young actors who play the Harris children come from the 'normal' stable of child actors rather than the 'Hollywood' child casting strategy. Thank goodness, as there is a league of 'Hollywood bowl haircut' children in films to last the rest of my viewing days and that's something that Eight is Enough really has to answer for. Imogen Poots plays Tammy Harris and Mackintosh Muggleton plays younger brother Andy Harris and both provide excellent performances and win me over as the most un-annoying child characters I have ever had the pleasure of watching in a movie with the exception of Ivana Baquero from Pans Labyrinth. They acted and looked like the real every day kids that grace the face of our western world. This is what makes 28 Weeks Later such a great movie, not only do the actors act; they successfully become the characters who they portray. The end result is a great cast great acting and a kick-ass story with kick-ass effects. A story that makes me break out in a rash when thinking that this scenario could really happen. It really could.
Video
Expect nothing but the best picture quality from a big budget film like this. The 1.85:1 picture is crystal clear and blemish free. Dominant colour is a dirty grey typical of the London buildings and grey overcast clouds that usually blanket London even during the better parts of the year. There's a sort of a dull clinical white tone for some of the interior shots; kind of like walking through a dimly lit hospital corridor with just a touch of natural light coming from the exteriors. In saying this, some interior shots are brightly lit like the scenes set in the Lab.  There are some intermittent reddish splotches on the screen....er….forget it. It's just the cast spitting blood into the camera lens.
Audio
5.1 Dolby Digital sound rocks on this. Don't expect any audio hiss or hum because there isn't any. The sound is crystal clear and dynamic. One particular scene really stands out and that's when the US fighter Jets drop incendiary bombs on London causing the mother of all firestorms. The sound of the explosion is phenomenal. This huge low bass rumbling with the treble of shattering of glass just reverbs as the explosion consumes building after building and street after street. It goes for about 45 seconds and I swear my sub was just bouncing about on the floor. It's the best audio and visual explosion I have ever experienced in a movie hands down. Turn up volume and keep turning it up until you can't turn it up any louder. This one goes up to eleven.
Extra Features
Audio Commentary by Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne.

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne.

Code red: The making of 28 Weeks Later. Duration 13 minutes. Provides insight of Danny Boyle's decision to get Fresnadillo to direct the sequel with relative creative freedom. Also lots of shots of Boyle behind the camera (Busted!).

The Infected: All things infected from makeup to choreography. Duration 7 minutes – Bit of a laugh really. Behind the scenes of the choreography of how the infected move and act. This has been choreographed by a Ballet Choreographer. Talk about taking things seriously. We get to see all the infected cast in their sweats or leotards, sweating it out. They even go through the movement differences between a Romero zombie and a Boyle infected (get it).

Getting into the action:  Filming the action. Duration 7 minutes – Actors and filmmakers talk about the experience of shooting the action scenes.

28 Weeks Later: The Aftermath Stage 1 'Development' Flash graphic story.

28 Weeks Later: The Aftermath Stage 3 'Decimation' Flash graphic story.

The Flash Graphic stories are pretty cool. They are only about five minutes in length but nonetheless are quite engrossing. 'Decimation' was in particular quite disturbing and would make a great movie or comic.

It's all interesting stuff but my only grievance with the special features is that there isn't enough.  I would have really appreciated a much longer feature on the making of the movie instead of tid-bits. For a film of this calibre the features (with the exception of the flash stories) are just too short. It's like someone handing you an o'dourve when you are starving to death. I felt the same about the special features on 28 Days Later.
The Verdict
An action packed, gory, clever and superbly acted kick-ass movie for Zombie fans, but this is not a zombie movie. It's the zombie equivalent. It may look like a zombie film and also feel like one but remember it's a virus infection. The infected are not dead, they are infected. You might be able to find a cure for the infected but you won't find a cure for zombies. There's no cure for death. You can watch a zombie movie in the comfort of your armchair and know a shuffling corpse is not going to wander into your living room and take a chunk out of your beer arm, but you can't be sure that a 'crazy', infected with pure Rage isn't gonna smash your door down and bleed all over you. Now that's freakin' scary. Bring on 28 Months later.
Movie Score
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