May 12, 2007 -- “28 Weeks Later,” the sequel to “28 Days Later,” is a major disappointment. I liked the first film. The sequel is depressing, repetitive and pointless, and not scary at all. I should have known better. I should have trusted my instincts and stayed away from this film. That's two hours of my life I'll never get back. The only reason I went to see it was that the reviews on it were generally positive, averaging about 2.8 out of 4 stars. That is very misleading. It is a well-crafted film with good acting by a capable cast. The problem is that there is no real point to the film, other than the obvious references in it to the American occupation of Iraq, and that's not instructive, either. The first film was scary and entertaining. I couldn't wait to get out of the second one.
Instead of being scary, “28 Weeks Later” is just loud. Where I saw the film, they had the sound turned up to about 90 decibels. I wore hearing protection, then put my hands over my ears and my earplugs, and it was still too loud. The rest of the audience must have been deaf, iPod ear damage, I guess. The shaky hand-held camera effects were also pretty exaggerated, making the action scenes almost unwatchable, or vomit-inducing. The music was loud and annoying.
The story concerns a time 28 weeks after the initial outbreak of the rage virus epidemic, which quickly turns normal people into high-speed killer zombies. An attempt is being made to re-populate England with refugees brought into a sealed-off “green zone” (is that a subtle hint or what?) in London, where people are supposed to be safe from the ravages of the virus. The Americans are in charge of the Green Zone. Who put the Americans in charge of England? It must have been Tony Blair. The virus is thought to have died out after all the zombies starved. A medical officer warns that the virus could still be around. An overconfident military officer says if it is, “we'll kill it.” Hmmm. Overconfident American occupation forces underestimating a threat with disastrous consequences, what does that remind me of?
Of course it turns out the virus has not been wiped out. It returns inside a host body and successfully attacks the Green Zone, largely due to the incompetence of the military occupiers' efforts to contain the virus. The response to their own incompetence is to kill everyone, not just the zombies, to keep the virus from spreading to the empty country of England, where it would quickly starve itself to death. The green zone is firebombed and London is gassed. Innocent men, women and children are gunned down, burned and gassed. It is a kind of “final solution” for stopping the virus, but it doesn't work all that well. What is really depressing is that the movie makes a good argument that love and compassion lead to the spread of the virus and that murdering innocent civilians is an appropriate way to stop the spread of the virus. Next to the American military, the zombies don't look like much of a threat. The allegory is as heavy-handed as a WWF wrestling match storyline. Offsetting all these idiotic, incompetent, murderous villains are a few self-sacrificing heroes. Despite being greatly outnumbered by murderous zombies and soldiers, the heroes make a pretty good effort to escape the Green Zone massacre and survive, but don't look for a happy ending here. The movie is relentlessly downbeat from beginning to end. Its themes and action scenes are repetitive. It is a well-crafted, well-acted, but thoroughly unpleasant, depressing, pointless, irritating and non-entertaining movie. It rates a D.
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