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May 22nd, 2007

Spoilt! (Movie Tuesday)

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.