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28 Days Later (2003)
| Directed by:
“rage” virus wipes out most of earth’s population, a small group of
survivors band together to bypass the rage “filled” crazies who want
them for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack and to travel the dead earth in
search of personal and global salvation. And
how was your day?
the box-office failures of two of his big Hollywood features, "Life
Less Than Ordinary" (dug it) and "The Beach" (loved it),
genius Danny Boyle goes back to the nitty gritty school of filmmaking in
this shot-on-digital end of the world/zombie-like rabid loons on the loose
opus. Written by author and screenwriter Alex Garland (who also wrote
"The Beach"), "28 Days Later" might let down the
crowds expecting a straight forward/fast-paced zombie party, but should
please the more open-minded, substance-craving and patient genre fiends.
don't get me wrong,
there is some horror in this zoo...with the rage-filled mongrels plaguing
the world not messing around when it comes to human hunting and providing me with
a couple of well delivered armrest clenching suspenseful scenes in the
process. You see, unlike the lumbering zombies of say, Romero’s films, the threats on two legs here actually
run after you with everything they freaking got, wanting to chew flesh as
much as I need Burger King after a drunken night of debauchery. Their
speedy disposition was a refreshing approach in this now familiar
sub-genre and it whooped my ass a few times in the tension factor (tunnel
scene…nice!). Having said that, at its core, "28 Days Later"
is more interested in drama than it is in pure horror which basically acts
as background material with the baddies being abandoned for large blocks
of time to make way for character exploration and social commentaries.
Nothing wrong with that!
flick started putting out its message-heavy “raison d’etre” early on
with TV news footage of man’s inhumanity to man and went on to take that
theme further via its last block ("Day of the Dead" came to mind
there). Some might argue that the
supporting characters who contributed to the aforementioned subtext were
fairly one-dimensional, but sometimes you have to go “black and white”
to make a point and for me...it worked. The message hit hard and I
“capiched” loud and clear. Although I grooved on the “universal”
themes, the deepest hook to this flick for me was on a more intimate human
level. I quickly grew mucho fond of the key players, their relationships
and what they brought to the emotional table. The excellent actors really
made it happen with the interaction being touching and the tackling of the
importance of “love” and “family” making my heart and noggin work
overtime. My character arc highlight was Jim’s eventual transition to
full on “manhood”. You don’t mess with Jim’s women, that’s for
sure and head bashing does wonders to one’s evolution it seems (a
man’s gotta relax). I respect that!
the downside, most of the conventions here were reminiscent of other
films, but I was able to let that got to some degree due to the strong
execution. I did find that the film missed out on what could have been
some truly engaging fear scenarios though by communicating them in overly
shaky cam fashion or by not taking them far enough. The movie’s low
budget and the format on which it was shot also diminished some of the
intended impact. I can just imagine how much more striking this baby
would’ve been if shot on 35mm with coin to spare. Lastly, one subplot
that fascinated me, which was Jim’s transition from nice guy to
shirtless badass ("The Beach" came to mind here), wasn’t
handled in-depth enough. A bit more time spent on Jim’s
"growth" would’ve made the deliciously violent outcome even
I was well treated by the stylish and somewhat artsy "28 Days
Later" and the eerie opening scenes of one man left on earth, walking
the deserted streets of London really stayed with me and was worth the
price of admission alone. Echoing Romero’s "The Crazies",
"Dawn of the Dead", "Day of the Dead",
the other Boyle/Garland team up "The Beach" and that
trashy little ditty “Night of the Comet” (hey, I was an 80’s
kid...sue me) this movie hit the damn spot on many levels. [Arrow
sings} “It’s the end of the world as we know it; and I feel fine!”
(Jim) had a wooing stillness about him and a sympathetic, photogenic
nature that made his role one worth investing in. Naomie Harris (Selena)
gave a gripping show and I relished witnessing her character’s evolution
from heartless badass to emotional chickadee. Brendan Gleeson (Frank) was
mucho endearing as the “father figure” of the group. Megan Burns
(Hannah) underplayed it and came through as the precocious daughter.
Christopher Eccleston (Major West) gave a focused show (like always) and I
had trouble figuring out his character...which made him that much more
Hour at the blood bar with violent machete fun, blood puking, disgusting
infected humans and corpses, a brutal head bashing and the grand finale
being thumbs in the eye socket fun. A cup of blood for all my friends!
(Selena) gave us some undergarment shots while the ladies got the full
platter with Cillian Murphy (Jim) revealing his noodle and his ham slices.
Danny Boyle is
my kind of director: one who likes to emphasize the audio/visual qualities
in his films. This flick is stylishly directed, with creative angles,
camera moves, quick cuts and slick editing filling the screen with a great
use of silence or/and music backing the images up perfectly to boot. Apart
from a couple of “too blurry” scenes and the digital format sometimes
lessening the power of some shots...I had a blast here.
Murphy’s poignant score and the kicking tunes from the likes of Perry
Alleyne, Brina Eno, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Grandaddy
contributed majorly to the film’s bleak atmosphere. I gotta get
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
IMAGE: Taking into account
that the flick was shot on HD (High Definition Digital Video), then blown up to 35MM,
to then be transferred to disc, the 1.85:1 anamorphic image on the DVD was adequate.
SOUND: The Dolby
Digital 5.1 sound for the film was uneven where the dialogue would be very
low and the score really loud, expect lots of remote control toying. French and
Spanish dub tracks are available in Dolby 2.0 Surround
Audio Commentary (feature length): Danny Boyle
and writer Alex Garland come in to provide a decent commentary with very
little dead time. They relayed a lot of info about the hard shoot and the intentions
behind the film. Solid.
Deleted Scenes (~ 13
minutes): Here we get 7 deleted
scenes with optional writer and director commentary. The scenes
themselves went from being pretty money (the stair case scene), to trivial to variations on scenes
already in the film. The commentary
by director Boyle and writer Alex Garland was informative
in regards to why they left these scenes out of the finished print.
Alternate Ending (~ 3 minutes): We get 3
alternate endings, The Theatrical Alternate Ending (bleak and my
Alternate Ending (similar to the theatrical ending, but without Jim)
and Radical and Alternative Ending which is communicated via
storyboards with Alex Garland and Danny Boyle reading the directions and
the dialogue. This radical ending really takes the movie in a different
direction than what it turned out be. To give you an idea, the soldiers
are not involved in that ending. Slick stuff!
Pure Rage-The Making of 28 Days Later
(~ 24 mins): This feature was misleading. It
wasn't really a "making of", but
more of a look at the real life "virus infection" threat in the
world with random clips from the film and cast/crew comments slipped in.
Disappointing because I didn't get what I wanted, but interesting nonetheless.
Galleries (~ 18 minutes): We get two
galleries. Production Galleries (on-set stills, location stills) and
Polaroid Galleries (costume and makeup). Both have Danny Boyle commentary
to them explaining the purpose or nature of the pictures.
Here we get
storyboards and a music video by
On the whole, if you loved the film,
you'll appreciate this DVD. Sure, it's too bad that the audio quality of the
disc wasn't top notch, but it
came through visually and had enough extras
to quench one's thirst.
genre film that had something to say beyond rappers, tight tops, cell
phones and bon-bon music left me a happy and fulfilled horror fanboy.
"28 Days Later" titillated my taste buds as a powerful
audio/visual experience, a layered character study, an in-depth social
commentary and a horror/action piñata of shocks and red messes. I came
out of the theatre, enjoying the rain and the wind on my face and feeling
that with love and family in tow, life is worth living. Yes, I got that
out of a pseudo-zombie movie. Who knew? Hopefully you’ll get as much out
of it as I did. I’ll end with some friendly advice; if the end of the
world is ever upon you, stock up on lots of Pepsi...it’s the number one
“surviving kit” item according to this flick. Just
sharing the wisdom: "The joy of Pepsi”!
deserted London streets exteriors were shot on early weekday mornings. The
crew only had a couple of minutes a day to get their coverage and had to
ask groggy night clubbers not to walk into the street shots.
flick was shot for US$15,000,000.
this movie on The Arrow's HORROR BOARD
back to the Arrow in the Head Homestead...
© 2003 John
Fallon All Rights Reserved JoBlo.com