Category Archives: 28 Days Later series

28 Weeks Later (2007, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)

If 28 Weeks Later weren’t executive produced by Danny Boyle and Alex Garland and produced by Andrew Macdonald, it would not be any better (in some ways it would be worse) but it certainly would be less offensive. Before seeing the film, I remarked to friends about what made 28 Days Later, in the end, work. It wasn’t cheap. Weeks isn’t just cheap, it’s also gimmicky. It’s the worst written, well-made, frequently well-acted film I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s not just a bad script, it’s a cheap, incompetent one. The setup for the film is fine, but then instead of playing the Drew Barrymore role in Scream (in what I understood to be a thirty minute or so episode, I had understood the film to be episodic… but it doesn’t really make up for going to see it), Robert Carlyle becomes the subject, sort of, of the whole film. At first he’s a tragically human coward, but at the thirty minute or forty minute mark, he becomes the zombie version of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I suppose it’s lousy to spoil that one for interested viewers, but really, if you’re going to like a piece of crap like this film, you’re not going to care.

But the gimmicks don’t end with Carlyle becoming a super-zombie (he’s apparently got some consciousness and a real hatred for his family). No, see, Carlyle’s wife (played by Catherine McCormack, which I had no idea about until I looked at IMDb), who he left for dead, see… she’s a carrier, but immune. So, the whole plot rests around Carlyle’s family. How convienient his lame and fearless kids have just come to London, so they can restart the zombie holocaust.

As a director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo shoots and edits some great montages. It’s all very frenetic, but it actually works with the content here. Lots and lots of beautiful visual montages. There’s even a really nice montage scene where the U.S. Army snipers, bored with lack of zombies to shoot, watch the repatrioted Brits. Even after the really cheap gimmicks, the film maintains a level of intensity until it just becomes cheap overall, with characters doing unbelievable things–smart ones becoming stupid. So stupid I almost spelled it stoopid, Weeks‘s stupidity has killed so many of my brain cells.

It’s frustrating because there are some nice scenes and some good performances. When he’s not super-zombie, Carlyle is fantastic. Even better is Jeremy Renner as a sniper. Renner’s got very little to do besides be a decent human being, but he does it with a lot of force and it’s good stuff. Rose Byrne is the, obviously, best, because she rules this movie in her terrible role. She’s an army doctor and she doesn’t want kids, but then she hangs out with them, but is it just because they might carry the cure? Who knows, because Weeks doesn’t even give subtext to its contrived coincidences. The kids, Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton, both stink. Muggleton’s worse, but it might not be his fault, the script sets him up as the kid from The Shining but ominous and possibly evil (so I guess more Omen-esque, but not having ever seen one of those, I’m not sure). Harold Perrineau’s in it a bit and I’m glad he got a job in something intended to be high-profile, but he’s way too good for this kind of work. He, Byrne and Renner ought to reunite for something written by someone not trying to remake Halloween 4. Hell, Fresnadillo could even direct it. The only times he fails in Weeks are with the lengthy action scenes. The chase scenes, when from the chasee’s perspective, get tiring, but the action scenes are boring. You can’t tell what is going on so why even bother trying (or carrying).

I find it horrifying Alex Garland could make the time to write a Halo movie, but it couldn’t give this crappy script a rewrite. It’d take maybe a week to fix it. Some of the dialogue especially. My friend said it sounded like a bad Spanish-to-English babelfish translation.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo; written by Rowan Joffe, Fresnadillo, Enrique López Lavigne and Jesús Olmo; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; edited by Chris Gill; music by John Murphy; production designer, Mark Tildesley; produced by López Lavigne, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich; released by Fox Atomic.

Starring Robert Carlyle (Don), Rose Byrne (Scarlet), Jeremy Renner (Doyle), Harold Perrineau (Flynn), Catherine McCormack (Alice), Mackintosh Muggleton (Andy), Imogen Poots (Tammy), Idris Elba (General Stone) and Emily Beecham (Karen).

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28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)

Why is Hollywood making Cillian Murphy the bad guy? He’s got to be the best everyman Hollywood’s seen since–who, Roy Scheider or something, except a better actor? No offense to Roy, I love Roy, but Roy’s a little bit of a movie star. Cillian Murphy’s not a movie star….

It’s impossible to really talk about 28 Days Later without talking about the ending. I could give a shit about the three alternate endings, by the way. I figure, a DVD release, Boyle could have thrown one in and labeled it director’s preferred and been done with it. So we’re talking about the one that’s on the DVD. It’s the only ending the film could have had for me to give it the four too. That last shot, that last breath. It’s a beautiful moment in an unexpected place.

A friend compared 28 Days to Winterbottom’s Wonderland while talking about digital video. 28 Days doesn’t even look like video. It looks like film with really neat rain effects (which are probably only possible with video). Incidentally, Wonderland doesn’t look like video, it looks like a hi-res 16 millimeter.

I can’t explain how happy I am following this film, how elated. It’s under two hours, takes place over a handful of days, and it manages to have six distinct parts to it. Six distinct “stories.” Well, no, five distinct stories. The last two are rather linked… though wouldn’t necessarily need to be.

Unfortunately, the same thing that happened after the last time I watched Trainspotting is happening again. I’m falling in love with Danny Boyle’s filmmaking. It won’t last, of course, all I need for a cure is Shallow Grave or, ugh, A Life Less Ordinary, but I still haven’t seen The Beach, though I have been warned… Maybe Millions. Boyle’s not a young Turk, either. I think he was at least in his forties when he made Trainspotting, so he’s probably in his fifties now. (Miramax always seemed to present Trainspotting as a young Turk film). Trainspotting is better, I suppose, though Boyle’s a better filmmaker now than he was then. He’s less reliant on dialogue to move things, much more comfortable with the effect of his visuals.

Making a shot empty of people matter is difficult. It puts a lot of weight on the fellow going through the whole experience. Vanilla Sky doesn’t really count as an example and The Pianist failed miserably (I was terrified when I started 28 Days Later, fearful it would be a zombie movie like The Pianist, the lead going around, running, exploring ruins, all without any real emotional impact, hiding behind a calamity). So, now’s when I could rain praise on Murphy, who’ll maybe someday find a good role in Hollywood, but until then I need to track down that friggin’ one of his Nicheflix carries. I don’t know the female lead’s name, but she’s really good. So’s the girl. So’s Christopher Eccleston, which surprised me, especially since he was so bad in Shallow Grave.

28 Days Later, while definitely delivering a good “horror” film, a good “zombie” film, one ups even Romero’s best. While his Dawn of the Dead was about people and their struggles in a situation created by zombies, Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland (do I have to see Halo now?) tell a story about some guy. (Romero tends to let his commentary overwhelm the story, no matter how effective the story–or commentary–might be, Martin for example). So now The Stop Button is all about 28 Days Later and Danny Boyle and Cillian Murphy and shit….

At least until I see The Beach.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Danny Boyle; written by Alex Garland; director of photography, Anthony Dod Mantle; edited by Chris Gill; music by John Murphy; production designer, Mark Tildesley; produced by Andrew MacDonald; released by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Starring Cillian Murphy (Jim), Naomie Harris (Selena), Christopher Eccleston (Maj. Henry West), Megan Burns (Hannah) and Brendan Gleeson (Frank).