Thursday, April 26, 2012

ZomBlog Review: "28 Weeks Later"

“28 Weeks Later”
Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle
Writers: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Enrique Lopez Lavigne, Jesus Olmo
Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
100 minutes

EDITOR'S NOTE: This week, I turn the reviewing duties over to my fellow zombie lover, Meghan Russell, and let her younger eyes tackle the sequel to the stone-cold modern zombie classic "28 Days Later." Enjoy.
Like its prequel “28 Days Later,” this continuation of the British zombie apocalypse is a crowd pleaser for fans who appreciate a high gore factor and psychological themes that tell us something about the human race and leave us thinking deeply hours after the film has ended.
I’m probably opening myself up to criticism in saying “28 Weeks Later” beats its predecessor in both blood and guts and its ability to trigger emotion, right from the first scene. If you do not respond emotionally to that heart-racing flashback opener, in which Don (Carlyle) makes the choice to leave behind his wife and save himself, then you, my friend, are a zombie.
The movie begins, as its title implies, six months after the initial “rage virus” spread through the U.K. These zombies, given life in the first film by Danny Boyle, are perhaps better and more commonly described as “the infected,” as they do not rise from the dead in search of brains, but rather their own minds succumb to the hell-bent desire to bite, scratch, maim and hurl on any humans they can get their hands on, to spread the infection. (For more background, read the review of “28 Days Later,” in which Rob painfully admitted these zombies are hands-down pretty effing awesome.)
The U.S. military leads the re-colonization efforts in London, and survivors are allowed to re-enter the city under specialized military watch. [*SPOILER ALERT*] Things seem to be going well until, in a unique twist I have not seen done in other films, an unknown “carrier” of the virus who exhibits no outward symptoms, through an ironic kiss with the hubby who once left her for dead, spreads a new wave of infection through the colony. Chaos and a series of internal battles between following orders and serving the greater good ensue.
A major theme that runs as rampant as the infected during the course of the film is the complexity of choice in deciding who survives and what the nobler cause is. While “28 Days” centers more strictly around man’s ability to survive, “28 Weeks” complicates it with emotional choices. Most obviously, Don chooses self-survival over what he believes would be the death of both him and his wife, while she is left behind after trying to protect a young boy from the horde. The guilt of that decision, however, stays with him like an infection of its own. Even when he gets the virus, his rage seems to take on its own purpose — a rare move in a zombie flick, as he becomes more than a mindless member of the horde and stalks his children, acting out against them, haunted by his guilty memories.
On a less personal, more humanitarian level, Scarlet (Byrne), a doctor with the U.S. Army, leaves her post to protect Don’s children knowing they might share the same DNA their carrier mother had that could be the key to an eventual cure. At one point she tells Sgt. Doyle (Renner), this hope for a cure is a greater good than saving her own life, or his. Doyle, in a dramatic scene where his orders as a sniper are to take out not only the infected in the streets down below, but the scores of survivors as well, also abandons his post for the greater good and helps the kids, and a small group of others, escape the city.
The only character who can separate emotions from duty is General Stone (Idris Elba), who chooses a different greater good to ensure the survival of the race, even if it includes sacrificing this first failed batch of colonists.
With frenetic camera movements that effectively mirror some of the more chaotic, claustrophobic scenes and keep your heart racing, and that constant fine line between hope for a future, for a cure, and impending doom, “28 Weeks” is a must-watch.

Romero Rules Followed: Their sole purpose is to find all humans and infect them, so I would say yes.
Gore factor: Blood, guts and zombie vomit abound, including a scarring scene where Don tears into his wife’s neck and then proceeds to drive his thumbs into her eye sockets. I may never be the same, but I’d say this sequel’s gore surpasses that of its parent film.
Zombies or Wannabees?: Despite their nontraditional way of going about it, they are zombies, through and through.
Classic, fine, or waste of time: A new kind of classic, as created by Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later.”

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