Did you enjoy 28 Days Later? Well, good news for you. Thanks to the almost seamless transition in visual style, pacing, and tone from 28 Days Later to its just-released-to-DVD sequel, 28 Weeks Later, there’s an 87% chance that you’ll find the sequel to be 92% satisfying.
Seriously… you’ll recognize a lot of elements from the first film in 28 Weeks Later. (And that’s a good thing. If it ain’t broke… ) There are those fantastic wide shots of an uninhabited, post-zombie-infestation London. Creepy. Although this time around, you’ll also get a lot of sweeping overhead shots of empty streets and deserted buildings… and you will wonder how the producers pulled it off.
There are those great, prolonged close-ups of actors’ faces during non-verbal moments of reaction or reflection. The gray and muted visual tones of the movie that make a subconscious suggestion that the city is diseased or not-quite-right… which you almost don’t even notice until intentionally-shocking moments of sunlight. (Or maybe that’s just London on a good day, I don’t know.) And, of course, the bouncy hand-held cam shots of frenetic zombie violence. And running. Lots of running.
You’ve got to wonder how the two movies ended up so wonderfully similar in so many respects, considering that the production teams (including writing and directing roles) were comprised of different players. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo took over directing duties from Danny Boyle, who stayed on as an executive producer for the sequel.
I almost wonder if Boyle’s “producer” duties played out something like this:
Juan Carlos: …and, cut!
Danny: Hey, Juan Carlos, sorry to bother you, again…
Juan Carlos: Sigh. Sure, Danny, what’s up?
Danny: Well, I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t shoot that last scene like I would have shot it. Here, let me show you how to do it…
The sequel does come up somewhat short in one respect, however, and that’s in the overwhelming-sense-of-despair department. In the first movie, you only learned as much about the newly-zombie-infested world as the experience of the main character, Jim, would allow. And since he was fresh out of a coma in the middle of a mysteriously-deserted hospital after the initial zombie outbreak had already happened… you and Jim were pretty much in the dark. First, you wondered, where the hell is everyone else? Then, are there any other survivors? And, are there any remnants of government or military? Had the rage virus spread outside Britain? Is there any hope for the ragtag group of survivors that forms over the course of the movie, or would they be fending for themselves against relentless zombie attacks for forevermore?
By gradually revealing the apocalyptic world to both audiences and the characters, the filmmakers behind 28 Days Later allowed viewers to share the sense of dread, desperation, and hopelessness that plagued the protagonists. Not so much in 28 Weeks Later.
The sequel finds the U.S. military securing London for re-habitation. In fact, the military’s control of the city is so demonstrably complete, it’s hard to get nervous when the inevitable outbreak of the rage virus happens. Sure, it sucks for the few hundred civilians at ground level, but there’s not really a point at which you worry that the problem can’t be sniped, gassed, burned, or bombed to smithereens. Or, all of the above, as the case happens to be.
Don’t let me detract from how this scenario lends to a more challenging (and interesting) gauntlet of obstacles for the film’s protagonist’s however. The good guys have to worry about lots more than zombies, and that’s a good thing for the movie.
The long and short of it: If you liked the first one, the sequel’s a pretty safe bet. Safer than having to rely on Britney Spears for maternal care, anyway.
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