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Overall Rating
3.57

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look43.18%
Average: 11.36%
Pretty Bad: 4.55%
Total Crap: 15.91%

7 reviews, 46 user ratings


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28 Weeks Later
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Another Dance Down At The Zombie Zoo"
4 stars

I suspect that most discerning fans of horror films–such creatures do exist–are looking at “28 Weeks Later,” the sequel to the hit 2003 sorta-zombie extravaganza, with more than a little bit of suspicion. After all, the creators of the original–director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland–are involved only as executive producers, none of the surviving cast members (including then-unknowns Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris) appear at all and the storyline doesn’t so much expand on the original as it does amplify things that we have already seen before. In other words, the film is essentially a plate of leftovers but unlike a lot of recent horror sequels, this second helping is actually a fairly tasty meal in its own right and what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in terms of sheer visceral excitement.

As you may recall, the first film dealt with a man-made plague that swept through England (and perhaps the rest of the world) that turned the infected into terrifyingly fast and violent zombie-like creatures who were in hot pursuit of the ever-dwindling numbers of the uninfected in the abandoned streets of London. As “28 Weeks Later” opens, the plague is still going on and in a prologue, we see married couple Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack) holed up with a few other survivors in an remote farmhouse. Alas, it is not remote enough and they are visited first by a young boy on the run from his infected hometown of Sandford (apparently the plague was too much for the heroic “Hot Fuzz” cops to handle) and later by a horde of monsters who quickly overwhelm the house. In the struggle, Don decides to save his own skin and slips out of the house while leaving his wife to a no-doubt-icky demise at the hands of the attackers.

The story picks up 28 weeks later and in that time, the last known carriers of the virus have died out and a section of London is gradually being reopened and repopulated under the watch of ever-present U.S. forces. As for Don, he made it to London and has been reunited with his two children, Tammy (the wonderfully-named Imogen Poots) and Andy (the almost-as-wonderfully-named Mackintosh Muggleton), who were out of the country when the virus initially hit. Everything seems to be under control but if that were true, of course, there would be no movie, would there? Without going into details, I will say that the Rage virus kicks up once again and the military decides to contain the problem once and for all by calling in an air strike that will incinerate everyone, regardless of their infection status. Since it turns out that Tammy and Andy may hold the key to a potential Rage cure, an American soldier (Jeremy Renner) and a resourceful scientist (Rose Byrne) try to get them to safety before they can be killed by either the air strikes or the rapidly increasing numbers of the infected.

Although I am certain that it would have been a success no matter when it was released, a good portion of the impact that “28 Days Later” had on audiences came from the circumstances surrounding its release. For starters, the horror films of that particular time frame were either post-ironic slashers films still trying to cash in on the success of “Scream” or knock-offs of Asian imports like “The Ring” and the novelty of a zombie-related film–especially one that simultaneously paid homage to George Romero’s landmark excursions into the genre and threw in a few unique twists of its own–struck a chord with fright fans looking for something a little different. In addition, in a real life/reel life parallel of a kind not seen since the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant that occurred three weeks after the release of “The China Syndrome,” the film hit theaters at a time when people were already nervous over the possibility of chemical warfare and the reality of SARS and this fortuitous bit of timing lent an extra edge to the proceedings. In the ensuing four years, however, the zombie genre has been reborn with such hits as the “Resident Evil” films, “Land of the Dead,” the “Dawn of the Dead” remake and “Planet Terror” and effectively skewered by the hilarious “Shaun of the Dead” and the news brings us new and improved horrors with such unrelenting regularity that people are now more likely to avoid anything that even vaguely reminds them of what is going on in the real world.

Although he makes a few stabs at replicating these elements this time around–the works of George Romero remain a key influence, especially his disease thriller “The Crazies,” and there are a few sequences of military personnel turning on those they are supposed to be protecting that are clearly meant to be evocative of the current quagmire in Iraq–director and co-writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (whose previous film was the nifty Spanish thriller “Intacto” has elected to take the same approach that James Cameron used when making “Aliens” and has largely transformed the material from a straightforward horror exercise into more of a relentlessly kinetic, white-knuckle action thriller that doesn’t stop for a second once the premise has been established. While this particular approach may have been determined largely because the sight of fast-moving zombie attackers can’t possibly have the same impact that it had the first time around, it works because Fresnadillo shows us that he really has what it takes to make a gripping action thriller. Take that farmhouse siege from the prologue that I mentioned earlier. Now you and I both know that at some point during that sequence, all hell is going to break loose and the Rage monsters are going to wreak havoc. And yet, Fresnadillo allows the sequence to develop in intriguing ways and throws in enough genuinely unnerving elements (such as a sudden burst of sunshine flooding the otherwise darkened house) so that we are already on edge even before the attack begins.

As the film progresses, he keeps tightening the screws and ramping up the pace to such a degree that the last 45 minutes that you are almost as exhausted as the on-screen characters by the time the end credits roll. This relentless pace also serves to distract people from having the time to pick apart the occasional defects in the plot, such as the highly unlikely reappearances of one particular character as our heroes make their way through London to the now-abandoned Wembley Stadium. Another thing that I appreciated is the way that he realizes that no matter how elaborately gory the on-screen effects are, they are nothing compared to what can be created in the mind’s eye and so he approached the more horrific material with a rapid-fire visual style in which what we think we might be seeing has just as much of an impact as the things that we do see. This is not to say that the film skimps on the red stuff–“28 Weeks Later” has plenty of effectively gruesome bits of business though I suspect that the moment that was presumably designed as the gotta-see moment–a bit in which dozens of zombies are chopped up in the blades of a tilted helicopter–might have had more of an impact if we hadn’t already seen virtually the same thing last month in “Planet Terror.”

Another impressive aspect of “28 Weeks Later,” though one that may well go unnoticed by most commentators, is the relatively high level of performance from the entire cast. Obviously, this is not the type of film that actors sign on for with visions of awards and accolades but instead of simply going through the motions, the performers here all turn in strong and sure work that adds a level of believability to the proceedings. Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots (and have I mentioned lately just how much I love that name?) come across like real kids trapped in an unreal situation but when they are given a scene with genuine substance (such as the bit where they confront their father about his story regarding Mom’s death), they more than hold their own with everyone else. As their protectors, Jeremy Renner and Rose Byrne come across not as one-dimensional heroes but as ordinary people trying to roll with the punches as all the support systems they have been trained to rely on collapse before their eyes. Then there is what can only be described as the singular work of Robert Carlyle, perhaps best known as wild card Begbie from “Trainspotting.” (Okay, he is actually probably better known either for being the star of “The Full Monty” or the chief villain in one of the crappiest James Bond movies ever made, “The World is Not Enough,” but I like to think he is best known as Begbie.) In the early scenes, he pulls off the difficult trick of making viewers empathize with his character despite the truly despicable thing that he does in order to save his own skin. As for his later moments, I will simply note that he tears into the material (among other things) with the kind of fearless zeal that is an undeniable blast to watch.

As I said earlier, there is no real reason, other than the obvious financial one, for “28 Weeks Later” to exist and it never threatens to outshine “28 Days Later” in any way, shape or form. That said, as pointless horror-themed cash grabs go, I would gladly take it over such recent clunkers as “Saw 3" or “The Hills Have Eyes 2" in a heartbeat. This is a slick, smart and spooky film that is far more entertaining than it has any right to be–so much so, in fact, that when the finale seems to set up yet another potential follow-up film, I thought to myself that such a thing might not be a bad idea after all.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16126&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/11/07 14:20:18
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User Comments

10/06/11 David Hollingsworth One of the better than average sequels 5 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Outrageously violent,disturbing shock-fest.Like Dawn of the Dead for the new millenium! 5 stars
1/15/09 Peter North 5 boner salute......all that blood got my member cranking!!! 5 stars
11/26/08 Leo T utter crap 1 stars
10/21/08 David Hollands Light years ahead of the boring, pretentious, and stupid original. 5 stars
9/24/08 PAUL SHORTT EVEN FOR A ZOMBIE GHOUL FILM, ITS IDIOCY IS BEYOND THE PALE 1 stars
8/31/08 AnnieG Average for a sequel, but not much of a horror flick. 3 stars
8/26/08 Stevo Just one thing; WHY does the director seem to think we British can't look after ourselves? 1 stars
6/06/08 Jessay Too many plotholes, not nearly as good as the original. 2 stars
4/17/08 David There are NO zombies in this movie! Zombies are corpses. 5 stars
2/09/08 Vercious This is crap compared to the first one. Some of it was tolerable though. 2 stars
1/26/08 matthew Some decent thrills and good acting by Carlyle. script is lousy and the rest of cast wooden 3 stars
1/13/08 T -dawg 1st was way better 2 stars
1/10/08 Ethan Reeser That movie sucked 28 weeks from sunday. 1 stars
11/12/07 Alec Predictable, but still pretty good. 4 stars
10/30/07 Beau this was awesome!! it was a great action packed thriller, highly entertaining!! 4 stars
10/14/07 David Pollastrini better than the original! 5 stars
10/13/07 Carlos This mpvie was ok 1st was way better 3 stars
10/11/07 Vagile Part 3 please. 5 stars
9/10/07 966 Not as good as the 1st but GOOD!!! Love the musical score, who did it? 4 stars
8/13/07 lyna ok i dont understand the ending yo but it was good 5 stars
7/03/07 William Goss A worthy sequel that's thrilling in its own right. 4 stars
7/02/07 Tanya g Excellent movie I enjoyed this just as much as the first one 5 stars
6/26/07 Johnnathan love tha movie, 28 weeks rocks! nuff said 5 stars
6/15/07 Anthony G 100% better than the first piece of garbage. 4 stars
5/29/07 Mike My favorite movie,The musical score,brilliant. 5 stars
5/29/07 damalc almost as good as the original 4 stars
5/23/07 Cammo Hell of a Film !!! 4 stars
5/21/07 finc Wasn't that great, tension on par but that was it 3 stars
5/19/07 Joseph Don't waste your time and money watching this one. 1 stars
5/17/07 prince This movie is in my top 3 best horror movies 5 stars
5/17/07 Austin Wertman sucked 1 stars
5/17/07 Marlena Not quite as good as the first. But worth seeing once. 4 stars
5/17/07 Childe Roland Starts out very well, ends up being irritatingly awful. Good gore, but that's about it. 2 stars
5/16/07 Dave Days was better 1 stars
5/15/07 Blizz Yeah, movieman is stupid. 4 stars
5/14/07 Matt Awesome By far one of the best horror movies in a while!!!! 5 stars
5/14/07 Sista Ironside brianorndorf is a moron, this is a FILM not a "movie", fantastic! 4 stars
5/13/07 Wesley Eddings Easily one of my favorite horror movies ever. 5 stars
5/13/07 Jefenator More sensational than "Days" but it maintains most of the cool bleakness. 4 stars
5/13/07 danny I love it 5 stars
5/13/07 Charone "The Stand," a literary masterpiece?!?!?! That voids your entire review, brian.. 4 stars
5/12/07 Ole Man Bourbon Entertaining but often nonsensical 4 stars
5/12/07 MP Bartley A relentless, tense, desolate nightmare. This is how the world will end: screaming..... 4 stars
5/12/07 Adrian I love me some zombies. 5 stars
5/11/07 Dan boring... 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-May-2007 (R)
  DVD: 09-Oct-2007

UK
  11-May-2007

Australia
  10-May-2007




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