Saturday, May 12, 2007

28 Weeks Later

It was back in 2003 that I first reviewed the film 28 Days Later. I gave the film the rating of a 7, appreciating it for the good story and some scary moments. 28 Weeks Later is a follow up to the story, albeit with differing characters and a differing thrust of thought. One of the things much different is the direction of the film. In 28 Days Later Danny Boyle did an incredible job at addressing spiritual themes as well as incorporating a new type of “Zombie” I say new type because one thing I have become aware of over the last few years is the debate among Zombie enthusiasts as to what actually is a Zombie. There are many purists who don’t consider the virus infected creatures of 28 Weeks Later as a Zombie. For the desire to not get too far off on a tangent here, for the sake of argument we will refer to the creatures as Zombies.

Boyle used the church and faith as a significant part of the back drop in 28 Days Later but new director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo attacks something different in the underlying theme of the movie. While some will say he stays away from any spiritual parallels I will disagree. I will say they are different but he certainly gets on track with the original intent of many of the writers of the Zombie Genera. He understands the political environment and makes a movie that addresses that environment in a way that hopefully too many don’t loose sight of.

In the movie, the Rage Virus has had an impact primarily on England. The fact that England is an island has kept the virus isolated as far as we know. The first film concludes with the virus still intact and playing havoc on the island. The movie 28 Weeks Later starts up, well 28 weeks later. In this film, soon after a reminder of the Rage Virus and the horror it produces, we see the character Don, apparently passionately in love with his wife. We also see him at a place where he has fears that are greater than love. It shows the power and potential of what can happen when fear is allowed to rule. After an escape from an attack from the Zombies he makes it to London. We then see, some weeks later, the Rage Virus has apparently died out. It seems as if the Zombies have died from starvation.

Here is where the political commentary enters the story. Some would say the commentary is not spiritual, but I challenge if thinking about the messages the film, then we will certainly come to not only a question of morality, but a question of spirituality. It is this question that current director, Fresnadillo and the writers of the film do a brilliant job.

It seems as if a country torn apart by evil and destruction is occupied by The United States Armed Services who are attempting to police and bring about order to England. We see soldiers placed in positions of power where they don’t question orders and see only their objective and mission ahead of them. The country has been torn a part, and in obvious need of leadership from the outside, thus comes in the good ol’ USA. It isn’t that all of the troops like their mission, some in fact find out they can’t carry out the mission that may entail them in not only killing hostiles, but innocents. In this process we see high ranking individuals who care more about protocol than they do about finding appropriate answers and solutions to the problems, even when those solutions are presented to them.

This is especially evident and frustrating when we see the higher ranking officials of the USA not having an ability to understand appropriate solutions to the Rage Virus once it returns and sticks up its ugly head. They are more concerned about doing what they know best, killing and destruction, than solving the problem. It becomes clear, quickly, this movie is in many ways a commentary on war, and in particular, to some extent, the Iraq war. Many will not see that, many will not understand that, but that is what the movie addresses at least for me.

Now don’t get me or the movie wrong, the movie does a good job at casting some military men in positive roles, but they are the ones who work for a solution to the problem. They find ways to protect those who would bring about solutions. These individuals struggle for this right, and some will pay a high price for their willingness to stand for what is right.

Now with the political commentary, don’t get me wrong, there is enough blood and guts to keep the Zombie and Horror fan quite happy. There is one innovative massacre scene involving a rescue mission and a helicopter that is like none I have seen before. There are certainly plenty of scares, head turners, and thought provoking commentary to keep one entertained, if you can call this entertainment, and some certainly will.

There are also plenty of questions the film addresses. Is society solution focused or do we force our views and actions on others? How often do we overlook solutions to our problems? Is the fear in our lives more powerful than the love in our lives? How far are we willing to go to show others love? Are we willing to lay down our lives for others? How do we come about the greater good, as opposed to the popular tendencies? There are more questions offered, but these are a start. I especially appreciated the film’s willingness to let the viewer come to their own conclusions without offering too many answers, outside of their obvious view of the United States when it comes to military action. Even there though, those serving in the military will likely appreciate the direction the film takes as it recognizes the moral integrity of many of those serving.

28 Weeks Later hasn’t forgotten what many consider one of the greatest attributes of horror, and especially the Zombie Genera. It is a shame that many can’t see beyond the gore of something like this to see the film for the things it has to say. It is a shame because there aren’t movies that often make the commentary and provides the questions movies like this do.

Now on a technical perspective; I was certainly impressed with the dark tendencies of the film regarding the cinematography. The direction and editing were also quite nice. I was a little disappointed in the script and would have liked to have seen the story tie in together a little more than it did. There were too many unanswered questions and the ending is certainly confusing at best. That said it is far from a perfect movie, it is a good movie, one worth seeing, but not great.

On a scale of 1 – 10, while not better than the first film in the series, certainly as good as an original. For that I will give a 7 for the good time and the price of an admission ticket, $7.

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