I watched 28 Weeks Later in the theater with friends last night. This was the sequel to 28 Days Later, a well-made “zombies are FAST!” movie from a few years ago that begins with a man waking from a coma 28 days after the fit hits the shan (as ’twere) in London. As one might guess from the title, 28 Weeks Later takes place about 28 weeks later, when the situation appears to be under control and people are starting to repopulate Britain.
The special effects were good. Scene direction, overall, was good. Acting was good. The plot was good. The script was passable, in general, though not as good as that of 28 Days Later.
The story execution was not so good.
The cinematography was downright awful. Sure, the shaky hand-held camera thing can be good for effect, useful to instill mood, and so on — once or twice in a movie — but when something like 80% of the movie is that way, there’s a real problem. Flickering lights can be useful now and then, but a regularized strobing that just seems to go on forever is a monumentally bad idea
There were little plot problems. I’m thinking of things like that scene in the huge underground room, something like a basement or parking garage, where probably hundreds of people were herded in “for their own safety” and locked in. Think about it — they put them in there, lock them in, then turn out the damned lights. Then, of course, nobody guards the doors. Next thing you know, they’re infected by the zombie that broke in through the back door. Yeah, good plan. I mean, sure, you could make a case for them having been herded in there just to keep them out of the way while you go warm up the napalm, but that doesn’t fit considering the napalm solution didn’t come along until much later.
Other small plot problems included the idea of having the snipers take out individual people after it was determined that target selection was pointless. Why bother? Just evacuate them and nuke the place if you’re going to kill everyone anyway. The only reason to have the snipers shoot anyone not infected in a real-world situation like that would be to keep them away from places you don’t want them going — otherwise there’s no damned reason to waste the time, the bullets, and the soldiers.
There were a number of other minor problems like that.
Then, there were the major problems. Aside from the cinematography, the single most unwatchable thing about the whole movie was that ridiculous damned scene with the helicopter killing zombies with the rotor blades. What the hell? Are they taking cues from Grindhouse now? Who thought this was a good idea, and why isn’t he dead?
The best thing about the movie, I think, was the way they made reinfection happen. That was interesting and (mostly) believable (there’s always the problem of why Mum wasn’t under guard, but I’ll ignore that in the interests of suspension of disbelief). The second best thing was probably the napalm (oooh, pretty).
Don’t go to this movie expecting cogent and incisive political statements — anyone who tells you otherwise is reading his or her own political leanings into the movie. Don’t go expecting to be swept away by a compelling character-driven story that wrenches at the heartstrings — it was all pretty emotionally tepid, all told, with the exception of the constant annoyance with the stupidity every single non-military character in the movie (and some of the military characters, but in more abstract ways that don’t generate as much annoyance). Don’t go to this movie at all if you’re prone to motion-sickness — the filmmakers seem to have thought they’d win an Academy Award for emulating the cinematography of the most confusing parts of The Blair Witch Project throughout the entire damned flick.
In fact, just skip the movie. See it in the dollar theater when it leaves the main theaters if you must, or download it for free (note: I cannot recommend illegal downloads, blah blah blah). It’s really not worth the money to pay full price for major theater, ownership, or even rental.
I saw a trailer for Resident Evil: Extinction, which is apparently coming to theaters this fall. Hopefully, that won’t be as disappointing as 28 Weeks Later or Resident Evil: Apocalypse.