?

Log in

No account? Create an account

The Past | The Previous

28 Weeks Later





Last night, I went and saw 28 Weeks Later, primarily because friends had told me good things, and also because I wanted Vietnamese from this specific place near one of the cinemas I can go to. I can never remember it's name, since between me and L (who introduced it to me) it is referred to as The Vietnamese Place Near the Cinema, just as other places are called That Singaporean Place in the Alley and That Spanish Place Near the Tattoo Parlor and so on and so forth. At any rate, this specific place is, in the traditional of Asian Restaurants everywhere (well, at least in Sydney) a cheap looking place that resembles more of a rundown cafeteria than anything else, but these days, I'm reluctant to eat in any kind of Asian food area that doesn't look like that. Nice looking Asian restaurants are never as nice, which may just be a rule to travel through the world by.

I don't know why I'm telling you that, except to say that I got the food I wanted, felt that satisfied food itch that you get at times, and went and watched 28 Weeks Later, enjoyed it, and had what will be called a good night, which is an unusual enough event when I go and see a movie, lately. J, who I saw it with, also liked it. I guess two people liking the same movie--much less a sequel movie--is such an odd enough occurrence for me these days that I feel it's worth mentioning in detail.

So, yes, I saw 28 Weeks Later, and enjoyed it.

It takes place, well, 28 Weeks after 28 Days Later, the mean little film that was released in 2003 by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, the director and writer who, most recently, gave us the flawed but enjoyable Sunshine. Now, I liked that first film well enough, though I felt the first half of it, when the main character wakes up in the deserted, empty streets of London with the Godspeed You Black Emperor music, was the better half of the film, and that when they got out and into the military camps and road blocks, it lost a bit of its energy. The sequel, however, directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, is a much more technically superior film which doesn't make this mistake, and which builds up its tension in tight character moments as it jumps from moment to moment, in which is probably is a slightly less stylistic version of the zombie film than Doyle's first installment.

The film opens with a Don (Robert Carlyle, who is a fine, and underrated actor, and who I love watching) and Alice (Catherine McCormick) and four others in a boarded up little house in the middle of rage virus outbreak of the first film. The opening serves to introduce the audience to the premise of the film both in terms of the virus and the conflict of the characters as Don, after the zombies break into the house and corner his wife, makes the decision to leave her while he escapes, thus leaving him to do some explaining when, 28 weeks later, his children return as part of the repopulation of Britain program lead by the America. It is, in this area, that we are introduced to American soldier and sniper, Doyle (Jeremy Renner) and chief medical officer who may or may not be a General because I can't remember, Scarlet (Rose Byrne). I'm sure it takes no stretch of imagination on anyones part to figure out that, soon enough, the virus is back in play, and everything goes to shit, which results in much chasing and dying.

The flaw of Fresnadillo's film is that, narrative wise, there isn't much to it. As much as I thought leaving the city in the first film was a mistake, in its defense, it did have a bit more going on in it, script wise, than 28 Weeks Later, which suffers very much from being the bridge in the middle of a three films.

Ultimately, this means that discussing it is, really, quite difficult without spoilers, so I won't, except to say that it's all good stuff. However, I am going to talk a bit about the introduction of the Americans into the film, and their place, here, as the protectors who turn, within a short series of bad decisions, to be as much a threat to the citizens of London as the rage filled zombies are. As the little picture up the top suggests, zombie films often have a nice thematic content in which the monsters are often vehicles for the creators to talk about various issues within society. In 28 Weeks Later , Fresnadillo appears to be arguing that the American military, with its excessive use of force, and unwillingness to recognise the human element of the people they often protect (or invade) often serve to make a situation worse, and inflame the already existing problems that a country may already have. It's a nice use of the film by the director and it is, actually, a somewhat more complex portrayal of the American Military Presence in the World--I love my capitals today--than I have described here, but much of that is linked to the events in the film, and you should, really, do yourself a favour and check it out, and deal with the thinking yourself after. Even should you disagree with this reading, the film is, really, heads and shoulders above the first when it comes to being a thriller, which Fresnadillo does with such ease that I will be tracking down his previous films, and especially Intacto, which I've heard good things about.

Comments

( 37 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )
ataxi
May. 22nd, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
"Fresnadillo appears to be arguing that the American military, with its excessive use of force, and unwillingness to recognise the human element of the people they often protect (or invade) often serve to make a situation worse, and inflame the already existing problems that a country may already have"
The film definitely invites this reading from its audience, but then it slaps them in the face for their emotional indulgences with its last sequence -- look where all that "acknowledging the human element" gets you in the end.

Intacto is a lot of fun.
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
yeah, like i said, it does offer a bit more complex a reading. i'm looking forward to INTACTO.
mattdoyle
May. 22nd, 2007 01:18 am (UTC)
They are not zombies
Okay, I'm going to see this too, because I liked the first one. But, why is this called a zombie film? They are not zombies! They're just angry, angry people. ;)
buymeaclue
May. 22nd, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
Re: They are not zombies
I do see the smiley on the end there, but I'm suddenly hoping very hard that they'll make a metaphor out of that, if they ever do 28 Months Later.
Re: They are not zombies - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: They are not zombies - elenuial - May. 22nd, 2007 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: They are not zombies - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 06:58 am (UTC) - Expand
buymeaclue
May. 22nd, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
How weird. I was convinced up until 3 seconds ago that the medical officer was named Sierra.

How weird 2. My strongest opinion about 28 Weeks Later was that I really, really missed the ellipsis from 28 Days...

There's a nice conversation over at Torque Control about the film: http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2007/05/11/a-conversation-about-28-weeks-later/

And I will follow your spoiler-avoiding lead, except to say that I really enjoyed the movie, but had, a couple of times, to tell myself sternly not to think too hard about it.
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
yeah, there are moments when i had to do that, too. the reoccuring zombie (which i've seen mentioned round) is the prime example of this.
(no subject) - buymeaclue - May. 22nd, 2007 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 02:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elenuial - May. 22nd, 2007 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buymeaclue - May. 22nd, 2007 01:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elenuial - May. 22nd, 2007 04:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
we'll you know how it is sometimes, man: it just skips you right past and you're the only one in the room without the drink.
(Deleted comment)
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
see how i help us all be social? :)
elenuial
May. 22nd, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
Actually, I thought that the military presence was commenting on the zombies as a reflection of modern culture.

The sniper vs. sniper scene is the telling one, to me. What does the "good" sniper say? "Three shots. He's panicked." And then in the ensuing bits, the boy runs out, gets shot at a lot and missed, and the good sniper shoots the bad one with one precise shot.

Fundamentally, the "bad" sniper was no different from the infected; he allowed his emotions to get the better of him and he lashed out with uncritical and devastating but not particularly effective/efficient violence. And the point of the first movie (the culture of violence the zombies represent always only leads to more violence in an ever escalating and unwinnable scenario -- that's one reading, but I also like the idea of the zombies representing how quickly and surprisingly contemporary life consumes us by playing on our emotions in ways we can't even understand; but back to the point!) is made more nuanced here: violence is necessary to counteract the violence, but it is the ability to check our emotions, to be rational and precise that makes us human, and perhaps our only hope for ultimately escaping the cycle of violence.

But then it turns it on its head with the military's actions. It is precisely that reason, that clarity, that necessity for control, that led them to decimate an uninfected population, firebomb a city, then use chemical weapons on any survivors. While the infected can do horrible things to a crowd of people by turning them into more of the infected at alarming speeds (as we saw in the film), it is only the clarity of man that can so efficiently and ruthlessly murder 50,000 people.

But it's again turned on its head. The military did that for the same reason the good sniper shot the bad: without that action, without getting the situation under control, everyone was going to die. And in a nice bit of nonverbal acting by the commanding general, we can see how heavily his actions weighed upon him.

So I didn't see the military commented upon, so much as used as a tool to comment upon human nature within modern culture, and effectively so. I adored the military portrayals in the film, because they weren't clearly good or clearly evil -- it really was a nuanced portrayal. Unlike "Saving Private Ryan," right? :)
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
see, i can see your point about the military being used that way. it's a fair enough reading--though i think i prefer mine :)

i did like the portrayal of the military. i didn't think it was 'the army is bad, or the army is good,' kind of deal, though two of the characters are fairly self sacrificing, you know? i would have liked if they had shown a bit more of the mob mentality about looking out for their own skin.

but, it didn't happen.

(also, i just went back to read your review, since i skipped it yesterday. i knew i was going to see the flick, so...)
(no subject) - elenuial - May. 22nd, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
porphyre
May. 22nd, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
Every time I end up doing an interview on zombies, which happens far more than it should, bot in print and on television, that's the sort of thing I go off about - how zombies are a reflection of the political zeitgeist, etcetera. I even use the word zeitgeist. it's terrible. I always tell them, too, not to talk to me. They never listen, and then they end up with a useless interview.
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
you'll be able to sell yourself as a zombie expert soon. do speaking engagements, tours, the whole lot.

actually, that's not too bad an idea.
(no subject) - porphyre - May. 22nd, 2007 07:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 09:59 am (UTC) - Expand
ninebelow
May. 22nd, 2007 08:55 am (UTC)
28 Weeks after 28 Days Later,

24 weeks, surely?

Intacto is well worth seeing.
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 10:00 am (UTC)
same dif.
(no subject) - ninebelow - May. 22nd, 2007 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 10:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
May. 22nd, 2007 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm somewhat of a fan of the first, but I thought Dog Soldiers was better, and am constantly amazed by how many people disagree!

I hear there's a good scene with a helicopter...
ex_chrisbil
May. 22nd, 2007 10:45 am (UTC)
I'm somewhat of a fan of the first, but I thought Dog Soldiers was better, and am constantly amazed by how many people disagree!

I hear there's a good scene with a helicopter...
benpeek
May. 22nd, 2007 10:50 am (UTC)
actually, the helicopter scene is one of those moments that isn't, how shall we say, 'properly thought through'.
(no subject) - ex_chrisbil - May. 22nd, 2007 11:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 11:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ninebelow - May. 22nd, 2007 11:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - May. 22nd, 2007 11:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ninebelow - May. 22nd, 2007 11:40 am (UTC) - Expand
bodhichitta0
May. 30th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
Ben, I just have to say this talk of zombies has made me nostalgic. Your first post that I ever commented on was about zombies. *sniff* and that was, holy crap over three full years ago, I think???
benpeek
May. 31st, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
it's been a long time, huh? sometimes i wonder how i've kept the blogging up.
( 37 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )