10 Years: “28 Weeks Later”

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Sequels are hard to get right or as close to right as possible. There’s so many expectations that it’s a wonder any manage to come through at all. Typically they just fall short, and it really doesn’t matter how many ways they do so. Sometimes though, you get a sequel that’s just good enough, that all other issues can easily be looked past. There’s plenty that makes it just the right amount of fun, no matter how much time has passed.

The 20th Century Fox film “28 Weeks Later” is as much fun as I remember, but gives few reasons to care about anyone you see on screen. As far as negatives go, that’s not that bad. This film could’ve been so much worse and made me wonder what I’d originally been thinking. I’ve always loved this film series, and after watching both films now, I can see why. This one is turning 10 years old this week and that alone was worth getting excited about seeing this film again. It’s probably been about as long since I last saw it, for which I have no good reason. But, on top of this film’s anniversary, there’s another occasion which got me excited about this film. Today is the fun (sad?) day in which I turn 28. I figured it was quite appropriate to do this film, and the previous one as I couldn’t see just doing one and not the other. That and last year I found myself starting this birthday series with a little comedy called “27 Dresses”. All in all, it wasn’t a bad decision in any capacity. I get to celebrate my getting a year older, and share why I enjoyed this film even if it’s missing that one crucial element that made the original stand out so much more.

Where Is The Love?

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The biggest problem, if you can even call this a problem, is how much you don’t care about these people. You’re not allowed to, not even truly for a second. Sure they’re cool and bad ass, as is the case of Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner’s characters, plus they get so many opportunities to demonstrate this, even if it is all in a bid to survive, but it’s better than the nothing we would’ve otherwise gotten. Yes, it’s a little disappointing, especially after how much character work was done in the previous film, but perhaps there was a reason. When you look at this film and its story, there really wasn’t a way to delve deep. Quite possibly because of this reason alone, I can look past this slight oversight. I’ve also got to give a slight bit of credit to what was achieved. It was a noble effort.

Firstly there’s the kids, played by Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton, and their dad who was played by Robert Carlyle. They bring pretty much every emotional bit and character backstory, but somehow, it’s still not enough. Again, it’s not deep. Not even close. There are moments where the writers tried, like when Poots and Muggleton are told that their mother is dead, even though Carlyle has to lie through his teeth a bit, but somehow it just doesn’t carry the necessary impact. Perhaps if we hadn’t seen what had happened at the start of the film and then had to see it again as flashbacks, which I seriously can’t figure out why anyone thought that a good idea, then maybe I could’ve been surprised and had an emotional reaction.

Another noteworthy bit I like, which hopefully would’ve been there regardless, involves the members of the military unit. The rapport was good. You got a good idea of how they worked together and that made a difference for me. Sure none of them revealed anything beyond what their respective job was in the unit, but somehow, I found this okay. The sadness that accompanied this was quickly overcome. The zombie like creatures had returned and this film, not that it compares at all, took a play out of the “Alien” to “Aliens” playbook.

Thrill Of The Zombie-esque Fun Run

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While this film doesn’t deal too much with the character development, just to mention it again, it did manage to focus on the overall narrative. Not only does it ease audiences in, but it offers up something that truly feels organic and practical. If a viral outbreak occurred like this, what would be the next stages in order to get the affected area back on its feet and put the world at ease? This film clearly offers up an idea, and it’s believable through and through.

With a practical focus, we can witness lighter moments of human interaction, and even build some mystery. I wasn’t expecting that. I was curious overall as I couldn’t remember how the outbreak came back, but was pleasantly surprised that this was a component of the film’s narrative. It’s only a shame the film didn’t resolve the plot on whether or not Poots and Muggleton’s blood could somehow be helpful towards creating a cure or some sort of vaccine. I guess we’ll just have to assume that Byrne’s notes and beliefs on the subject stayed with someone and that they followed through.

But before we get to this open-ended subplot, there’s the reason you arrived at it at all. The reason why this film can get away with not succeeding in developing characters and providing much of an examination of humanity as it currently stands. The action that drags you from scene to scene is quite thrilling and provides multiple avenues of danger. Danger from the infected and, once more, but with a different reason, people. In so many ways, which is all due to the narrative and why I love this film’s approach to the story, the cleansing policy that’s implemented makes sense. I wouldn’t want the virus to spread and this is the quickest way to achieve that end. So, with our heroes on the ground, it’s yet again a battle for survival.

While I love what was constructed, from the big scope to the creativity, it still doesn’t really compare to what was done in the previous film. That film’s action was almost exclusively about slow and suspenseful build up, with the sequences released at just the right moment. This one is more go, go, go! Sure some suspense existed and you never really knew what would or could happen, but mainly it was just your typical idea of action. Run for your life and do some cool maneuver that would end up saving lives. While that sounds kind of depressing, it was okay. I got caught up in all the action and even found some surprises along the way. For an action thriller like this, things could’ve easily turned out much worse than what was ultimately given.

Originally Released: May 11, 2007

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

Writer: Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, E. L. Lavigne and Jesus Olmo

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Harold Perrineau, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots and Idris Elba

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