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28 WEEKS LATER

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: October 9, 2007

“Execute Code Red!”

Film ***1/2

And to think that after the events depicted in 28 Days Later that things couldn’t get any worse. After the first film’s final scene, it seemed that everything had been resolved and everyone in London would be ok. But as indicated in the opening of 28 Weeks Later, nothing could be farther from the truth.

I was a bit skeptic of this follow up to one of my favorite horror films of recent memory. The main reason is that director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland were only going to serve as executive producers. They were already hard at work making the sci fi epic Sunshine, so trust had to be put in a new writing and directing team.

Thankfully, Boyle and Garland had a most fitting pair of successors in the form of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and screenwriter Rowan Joffe. They crafted a follow up, which manages to equal the horrifying effect of the first movie. In fact, this one takes the fear factor one step further.

The story picks up seven months later after the events in the first movie. Even though the U.S. military has helped quarantined a great bit of the city, there still remain a good number of infected rampaging through the streets. Both military scientists and rooftop snipers look to put a cease on the infected population in their own ways.

London is now being labeled a “safe zone” in the wake of the quarantine. Citizens are now allowed back in the city. The story mainly focuses on two children, brother and sister Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots), as they are reunited with their father, Donald (Robert Carlyle).

As the father tries to explain to his children about what happened to their mother (Catherine McCormack), as was seen in the mind-blowing opening scene, they don’t attempt to believe it for a second. He explains that infected broke into their home/hideout and the mother’s life was claimed in the attack. Andy and Tammy try head out past the safe zone boundaries to see if their mom is still alive at their home.

Much to everyone’s surprise, most especially the father’s, they find the mother alive but in a most eccentric state. Eccentric because of the fact that she is been infected, and yet something in her DNA is making her completely immune to the virus. However, although not displaying any signs of the infection, she is still very much a carrier of the disease.

And it’s this unique plot device that serves as the cause of an even more disastrous outbreak of infection. In fact, it grows so out of control that the military decides that they have lost all control, and have no choice but to execute a code red, meaning a complete extermination of the entire population. But Andy and Tammy, along with military scientist Scarlet (Rose Byrne) and military sniper Doyle (Jeremy Renner), plan to survive to the end.

The gore factor is certainly a lot higher in 28 Weeks Later than it was in the previous film. In fact, both this film and Robert Rodriguez’ Planet Terror have pretty much pushed the envelope as far as it can be pushed, I think, in terms of on screen blood and gore. I can certainly say that this movie had more scenes of such unbelievable brutality, that I came close to turning away from the screen on more than one occasion.

And if you were fortunate enough to see Grindhouse in the theater, you will recall a scene in Planet Terror where a propelling helicopter blade was used as a weapon. Well even if you wowed by that scene, it won’t even prepare you for how a similar scene in this movie is executed. It’s the kind of sequence that you want to rewind and see again out of sheer astonishment.

Well, enough said, as to reveal anymore of the movie will take away a great deal of intensity from the experience. In a year where many of the high profile sequels really disappointed (Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third), 28 Weeks Later was a welcome surprised. Not only was it a decent sequel, but it was one of few that even managed to be equal in almost every way to its predecessor, which is a rarity nowadays.

Video **

Hopefully, the presentation I experienced on the screener copy I was sent will be different from the one seen on the actual DVD release. I’ve had similar problems with screener discs in the past where the video quality is unusually lacking in the most unexpected areas. That and with the dreaded Fox video logo popping up every now and then. The visual style in the movie is much like the first movie in terms of the purposefully murky qualities. However, I noticed that several scenes appeared way too over-pixilated, and when something like that is all too noticeable for me see, then it registers as a problem. Again, I’m hoping the actual DVD release will be free of these flaws.

Audio ****

Man, was this an experience or what? The 5.1 mix is a ferocious one indeed, and the sound is so forceful that you will be ducking for cover during the film’s many attack sequences. Explosions, gunfire, zombie roars and other surround sound elements come into play at a super high quality. Dialogue and music delivery are also delivered in top form! One of the best sounding discs you’ll experience all year!

Features ***1/2

Some truly biting features to go along with the movie on this Fox release. Included is a commentary by Director/Co-Writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Producer/Co-Writer Enrique Lopez Levigne, as well as
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary. There are also three intriguing featurettes; “Code Red: The Making of 28 Weeks Later”, “The Infected” and “Getting Into The Action”. Lastly, there are two animated segments taken directly from the graphic novel “28 Days Later - The Aftermath”, which link the two movies together, and there’s a Theatrical Trailer and several bonus trailers for additional Fox titles.

Summary:

28 Weeks Later is a most worthy follow up to Danny Boyle’s apocalyptic classic, and it takes the story in an entirely new and equally horrifying direction. Prepare to endure an intense and gut wrenching survival of London’s infected once more!

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