Monday, October 25, 2010

28 Weeks Later

A comment by Mark Johnson led me to the discovery I've never reprinted my review of 28 Weeks Later (Or at least that I mis-tagged it and can't find it, same thing), so here 'tis.

A terrible disappointment. I enjoyed the original 28 Days Later, which featured a handful of people struggling to survive in an England overcome with the murderous Rage virus. It was exciting, gory, and featured characters for whom you had some empathy. The sequel retains the gore, loses everything else.

WARNING. You should beware of the remainder of this post for two reasons. First of all, it will contain SPOILERS which will reveal almost everything about the movie, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read further. Secondly, I am going to depart from my usual care against profanity, and this will contain words to make your mother faint. If you read it, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here goes.

None of the characters from the first movie return, and the opening occurs concurrently with the events of the first movie. A group of survivors, including Robert Carlyle (who annoys me for reasons I can’t explain) and his wife, are holed up in a farmhouse against the near-mindless monsters their former neighbors have become. RC and wife go on and on about how lucky they are their children are safely in Spain (could this be a PLOT POINT?) although they are supposed to believe things are the same in Europe as England. A McGuffin arrives in the form of a small boy, who pounds at the door for admittance. Against the wishes of a majority of the occupants, RC and wife let him in. He is followed in close order by a horde of Infected, who proceed to break in and gnaw on the luckless inhabitants. They have a prearranged escape route, but wife ignores RC and chases the McGuffin up the stairs, apparently not to strangle him for getting them all killed, but to take him with them. RC follows but is cut off from wife and McGuffin and has to escape alone, ignoring wife’s pleas to stay and die with them. He is the sole survivor, and will feel considerable guilt over this.

Fast forward to 28 Weeks Later, and the event seems almost over. The Infected have all apparently starved to death, and the U.S. Army has invaded and set up a Safe Zone on the Isle of Dogs. All seems to be going well, but the chief medical officer keeps warning everyone that the virus could still be out there (Could this be a PLOT POINT?). Despite being a major in the army and the highest ranking medical type in a plague zone, absolutely no one pays any attention to her whatsoever. There are about 15,000 Britons interned on the I of D, learning how it felt to be a colonial, and an armed U.S. soldier standing guard every three feet, including a sniper and his helicopter pilot buddy, who pass the time by trying to scare each other (Real World tip: When around someone who is armed, don’t startle them. They will shoot you.)

At which time RC’s children are returning from Spain. They are a bitchy 17 year old girl and a 12 year old boy who stole Farrah Fawcett’s hair. Bitchy and Farrah have a joyful reunion with RC, and 30 seconds later, are grilling him on what happened to Mom. “She was eaten, what could I do?” he says, and fake-cries. Who is around to contradict him? Oh, and on the way to their new luxury apartment he demonstrates to the kiddies that, since he is an electrician, he has a card which provides him with access to anywhere on the maximum security base (This could be a PLOT POINT). “I can go places where even the President can’t,” he doesn’t say. The kiddies are warned that they must not leave the compound since England is now filled with rotting corpses and possibly a LETHAL VIRUS. The first night, of course, they decide to sneak out and go back to their old house to get a picture of their mom. They sneak out fairly easily, as the hundreds of soldiers are all looking in the wrong direction, and make it to their home. This is easy, since in the movie England, everything is only a couple of blocks from everything else.

While grabbing the photo and some shoes, Bitchy and Farrah discover their Mom is alive, not quite well and hiding at home, the only survivor in the country. She seems okay, but a little weird and her left eyeball is full of blood. Kiddies and Mom are grabbed by army guys who have had a lapse of reason and decided to go get them.

Back at the base, the kiddies begin to rag RC about Mom. They have leapt to the conclusion that RC abandoned her to die, although there is no way to know this, since she can’t talk. “I would have sworn the old slag was dead,” RC protests, but his whiney kids now hate him, which he seems to regret, although it would be a blessing, if you ask me. Meanwhile, CMO is warning the top General (the great Idris Elba, who deserves better) that Mom is sort of a Typhoid Mary of Rage. Despite a partial genetic immunity, she is plumb full of the virus. “It’s even in her saliva!” CMO marvels (PLOT POINT). General is less than awed and says kill her. CMO argues that her blood could contain the antidote. Kill her, and we don’t need an antidote, the practical General points out. CMO doesn’t seem to realize she could take her blood and kill her, the best of both possible worlds. The genetic immunity, BTW, is traced to Mom having one blue eye and one brown eye, a trait she shares with both kids. This should also mean David Bowie is safe. It also leads to a disconcerting phenomenon, as the three actors whose characters are supposed to share the trait sometimes wear their contacts and sometimes don’t, so their eye color seems to blink on and off.

RC, rejected by his kids, goes to see his wife. He gets in easily, since HE HAS A MAGIC CARD, and because THIS IS THE ONE PLACE LEFT UNGUARDED. That’s right, the only known infected person is the only one in the compound not under guard. He begs her to forgive him, she does, and they engage in some extremely deep open mouthed kissing. At first, the danger all seems to be hers, as RC possesses a very unfortunate dental situation (you just know she’s going to lose an eye), then RC begins to convulse. The virus was in her saliva! RC turns, finishes off wife without any pleas for forgiveness at all, then apparently teleports himself out of the medical area. (Now mindless and unable to use the Magic Card, he still gets past all locked doors) After he chews on a few dozen victims, the compound is being overrun with Infected. Everyone, including CMO, Bitchy, and Farrah, are evacuated into safe, secure areas set up for just this purpose. Inside the containment area, the residents are frightened but safe, until Farrah sees RC at a door, growling, with gore dripping from his mouth. Farrah lets him in, of course, and pandemonium ensues. Everyone escapes and the situation is out of control. CMO keeps telling everyone they must save the two kids, even if it means everyone else’s life, because, apparently, the kids are now the two most annoying people left in the world.

The General, wanting to get this shit over with, orders the army to kill everyone, and the soldier guys open up, including Sniper. He is merrily gunning down the fleeing Britons (after all, they are responsible for American Idol) until he gets Farrah in his sights, and is unable to pull the trigger. He quickly joins CMO in trying to protect the kids. CMO asks why he did this, and he explains that once he saw Farrah, and targeted him/her, he couldn’t go on. I am dumbfounded. I’ve been wanting to kill the little fucker ever since he appeared on screen. (Remember, Farrah is the cause of all this).

There ensues a long chase sequence, in which Sniper calmly guns down his former comrades, while trying to rendezvous with Helo Pilot to escape. CMO keeps telling everyone the kids lives are more important than anyone’s, and I’m beginning to want to kill her, too. Along the way, everyone but the two kids dies, including Sniper and CMO. They are almost done in by poison gas, but fortunately the army uses a type which isn’t harmful if you breathe through cloth. They keep running into RC, who doesn’t need a mind to follow them (England is only two blocks, after all), until Bitchy finally kills him, though not before he infects Farrah. They get to the helicopter, and Helo Pilot flies them to Europe, where, in a postscript, we learn that Farrah has infected the entire fucking continent. The End.

To have a successful movie that consists of people fleeing peril, you need at least one or two you don’t want to see die. By the mid-point of the movie, I was rooting for the zombies. My recommendation is to avoid 28 Weeks Later like the plague.


Jim Mcleod said...

brilliant review. Does RC just annoy you in the film or like me in everything he does?

KentAllard said...

Everything. I thought I was the only one who didn't like him.