Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cross Country Corpses: 28 Weeks Later

Spoilers to follow

I'm gonna be perfectly honest with all of you. I didn't much care for "28 Days Later."

I've never been a fan of sprinting zombies. "Dawn of the Dead", at least the remake, scared both legs of my pants off.

In the case of "28 Days Later," I was left with a few unanswered questions:

- Why would a group of scientists have a super-dangerous virus with NO SECURITY WHATSOEVER?
(This is actually a common problem, wherein the most deadly toxins/weapons seem to have little to no guards or cameras)

- Why infect monkeys with "rage"? How can you write that line of dialogue and not laugh yourself stupid?

- Why market your film as a zombie movie when the "infected" DON'T QUALIFY AS ZOMBIES??!??

Now, before you start chucking your computers at me, let me explain myself, and the directors as well.

I'm not that fast. It's a problem that the Army is trying to knock out of me. So when I see blood-vomiting, 400 meter-dashing, eye-gouging people chasing someone through the bedraggled streets of London, I get a little panicky.

And I prefer my zombies to be DEAD, not just "infected."

And slow...but I guess you could figure that from the above statement.

Now the directors of this film had other things in mind, namely money.

And their lack of it.

You see, movies cost a crap-load of money (an amount equal or greater than the tonnage of food horded by a constipated elephant) Directors without the clout of Spielberg or Cameron have to earn their keep making low-to-no-budget indies or horror movies.

This was an admirable attempt, and I liked a lot about it. The army men, for instance, provided a much needed twist. Granted, it all seemed to have colors of "Day of the Dead," but so did "The Last Kiss."

Now we have a sequel, one of the most dangerous moves in all of moviedom. Many mistakes were made before the credits finished rolling.

As this is a film I can still imagine recommending, I'm going to try and avoid too many spoilers, but be warned.

At the end of the first film, Jimmy, Selena and Hannah are in position to be rescued. The infected are starving off and all appears to end with an air of hope.

Now forget them. Those people are gone. In fact, all the emotion you invested in the first film is basically useless, as the beginning of the second is a sterile introduction to the facts of the timeline.

After, of course, the introduction of violence and gore. But that's the way good horror works.

I liked the introduction. Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty") lives in a small cottage, riding out the infection with a group of friends. It all quickly comes crashing down, as the "infected" possess superhuman strength along with their commendable running talents.

The tension was well-played, and the acting was fine. I just...missed the old characters.

A standard trick with sequels is starting without your main characters. Think the beginning of "Terminator 2" or "Rush Hour 2". You get invested in the action, but you still wonder when the stars are gonna show up.

Without the stars, all you have is a sequel set in the same universe. It's like making "Lord of the Rings" but changing the Fellowship in each movie.

When "28 Weeks Later" begins, you already don't care about anyone in the film. If they die, fine. You've already lost three great friends, why waste time getting emotional again?

Next we have the setting of the film. America (being the big brother to England) arrives to save the day and rebuild the British country. They do this by hiring an inept one-star general and giving him an incompetent staff of officers. They throw in Delta Force (as portrayed by people who would never make it into Delta Force) to pull security.

When preparing to write this movie, the screenwriter wanted to learn about the American Army so he could create a realistic set of characters and events.

Unfortunately, after learning we had changed our uniforms, he forgot to ask any other questions and thus blew the chance at creating realistic characters, at least as far as this soldier is concerned.

The Delta operators are the most fun characters in the film, as they joke around and really act as though this were the worst possible situation to be in (both before and after the infection arrives). The lead operator (Jeremy Renner from "SWAT") leads with charisma that is restrained by common sense, almost like a real Special Forces soldier.

What doesn't make sense is the security set up by the inept one-star. This guy knows that the infection takes twenty seconds to spread to someone else, yet doesn't put security on any possible patient-zeroes.

When a woman appears who may or may not be infected, there isn't a SINGLE soldier waiting outside her door. It's just like they were asking to be infected.

I don't like the view that Hollywood has on the American military. In fact, most people who know someone in the Army, the Corps or any of the other branches don't like the way soldiers are oft portrayed in film.

This movie really annoyed me because of the gross mistakes the writer made with Army logic. I understand that most people haven't read the FM 121-88 (the Army Field Manual on a Zombie Invasion [sprinter variety]) but COME ON! Give us a little common sense here.

These "infected" can sprint like the Flash, jump like Superman and vomit like Ozzy Ozbourne.

Oh yeah, quick question to the writers. Why do they vomit? And why, if they vomit, does this not affect them?

I'm not dissing the idea. In fact, the bloody vomit was one of my favorite parts of the films. I mean, it's gross and awful and it makes you hate the fact that they exist, exactly the sentiment you need when zombies come to town.

This is not an awful film. It's not going to win any awards, but it can certainly entertain. But I met a woman who taught me a valuable lesson about fiction.

If you do something so unbeleivable that you lose the audience--even momentarily--you've lost them for good.

When you make Army officers as dumb as the ones in this film, I just lose interest. The characters were bland and not from the original film.

That said (and it was quite a bit) if you enjoyed the first film, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one.

This blog is my opinion on movies, and you may disagree.

You'll be wrong, but it's a free country, so go ahead and be happy.

I'll give this movie six gouged-out eyes out of ten.

Watch carefully.

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