A friend that I work with said that if Hollywood ever ran out of creative and original ideas, and that if a studio managed to make a sequel about pirate zombies that lasted three hours long, it would clean up at the box office. But the fact of the matter is that if we survived a nuclear winter, we would be well prepared about what to do when zombies took over the land, because of the prep we had from guys like George Romero. So even though Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later might have presumably sealed the deal when it came to this particular interpretation, someone decided to dredge it up for whatever reason.
The sequel, appropriately titled 28 Weeks Later was written by several Spaniards, including Enrique Lavigne (Sex and Lucia), who also produced the film, and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intact), who directed. After the viral epidemic and the subsequent pronouncement that “all was well” in England, the U.S. led NATO troops helped to clean and repopulate the London area. That is slightly down the line of the film’s opening, which has Don (Robert Carlyle, The Full Monty) and his wife Alice (Catherine McCormack, Braveheart) separated when some of the infected invade their countryside cottage, and he manages to get away. Flash forward to the period that shares the film’s title, and Don is a key part of the repopulation effort when his children come back to England. But you know how sequels go, through divine effort or circumstance, London becomes infected again and everything goes straight to hell.
The film has got a few familiar faces, even more than those in the first film. You’ve got Carlyle and McCormack, but there’s also Harold Perrineau, who people will recognize from Lost, and Idris Elba was in The Wire and kicked much ass. They play some of the soldiers of the peacekeeping force. They manage to do what is asked of them in the film, but they clearly play to the zombie genre well, with the undead getting killed (again) in various new and creative ways, while things are bloodier and more graphic than they were the first time.
But for all the new and creative ways that these things get offed, sometimes things border on the silly, so to speak. The plotline is quite choreographed and predictable, the acting performances are quite stale, bordering on boring, and it’s clear that the last few scenes do little more than prop up the likelihood that a third film could be on the horizon. Some dead horses are better left unbeaten, but chances are said horse would come back and bring some contagious virus with it.
Dolby Digital 5.1 for the world to enjoy. The surround work is quite ample throughout the film, as is the low end for the many military sequences and thuds from gunshots into corpses. The way the film is recorded appears to be one of those where you listen to softly recorded dialogue, then a zombie breaks a window or something and scares the beejeezus out of you.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Much, if not all of the film was shot with handheld cameras to preserve the gritty look as intended. However, Fox has provided the Upcomingdiscs offices with what’s called a “check disk”, containing unfinished video with a lot of noise in the picture and pixelization on the motion sequences. Scores will be updated pending receipt of a final product.
The big extra of note is a commentary with Fresnadillo and Lavigne. The pair discuss their intentions as far as the film’s style, and what they wanted to accomplish in the story. They also discuss the production and are both informative and anecdotal. They kind of reach when they say the first film was a “masterpiece”, but what can you do? Overall it’s fairly low key but doesn’t detract from the film. Two deleted scenes that run a little over five minutes in total are next, and they include optional commentary. I give them points for being actual missing scenes, even though they don’t really add anything to the film. A making of look at the film is next, lasting about fifteen minutes and includes the usual thoughts and recollections about it from the cast and crew. And as it turns out, Boyle was the executive producer on this sequel, so yeah, there is some endorsement to speak of. “The Infected” is the same cast and crew, sharing their thoughts and impressions on those who play them, with slight interview footage of those themselves. It’s kind of a trip to watch the infected “rehearse”, but otherwise it’s OK. “Getting into Action” shows the story and how we get to where we do in this film, and the cast talks about the action in the film and how to prepare for it, while Fresnadillo talks again of the visual style he wanted to achieve. There is a piece called “28 Days Later: The Aftermath” which is a comic book of sorts. The “Development” and “Decimation” stages are simply animated versions of said comics, released by Fox Atomic. Trailers for this film (and six others) round the disc out.
Fans of the 28 Days film will be encouraged that there is a new film, and surprised to see that portions of it seem to elevate what Boyle did in the first film. Having said that, beware that the story is flimsier than the first edition and gets somewhat annoying in the second and third acts. The extras are decent enough, so exercise “rent, with an option to buy”.