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28 Weeks Later: A Critical Review 
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Post 28 Weeks Later: A Critical Review
I dug up a review of 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to the awesome zombie movie 28 Days Later, that I wrote for a now defunct local e-zine and thought I'd share it with BookTalk, because I thought it was pretty funny. I've edited out all of the swear words (on any site other than this one I swear like a sailor) and am not including the pictures that originally went with it, but I think it will still read pretty well anyway. Feel free to share your thoughts on the review or the movie or anything else you might want to say. :)

Spoiler Alert
Do not read any further if you haven't watched the movie and intend to and don't want to know anything that happens.
I warned you.

28 Weeks Later
The Good, The Bad, and the Plotholes

(I calls 'em as I sees 'em)

Once again (like in 28 Days Later), you, the viewer, are taken right into the action, with no explanation of how or why you're seeing what you're seeing. In a dark cottage kitchen, a husband and wife who seem to be very close (Don and Alice), are cooking the last of their canned tomatoes -- the next meal will start on 5 years' worth of chick peas. But that's pointless and not even worth mentioning. Alice looks sadly at a picture of an older couple and two young children. The couple discuss how they're so glad their kids didn't have to witness the carnage of the Rage virus because they'd gone on a school holiday and wasn't that lucky they're safe and sound and then Alice and Don kiss. Surprisingly, an old woman walks in and announces that she's found chocolate in the basement.

Until this moment, you've been led to believe it is just the couple who are surviving in this house, but they descend into the basement and there is a table set for Alice and Don, an older couple (not the couple from the photograph), a young man, a young woman, and an empty space for the young woman's boyfriend who ran off a few days ago. She thinks he's coming back, but he's not. As the young man tries again to convince her that he's not coming back, there is a frantic knock at the door.

No one wants to answer it, but Alice hears the screams and insists that Don answer the door because it's a kid who clearly isn't one of the Infected. Don opens the door to blinding daylight and pulls the child into the house. He's safe. Yay.

For some reason unbeknownst to me or any other viewer ever, the young woman gets up from the table and pulls some of the cloth patches keeping the cottage light tight. Naturally, less than 3 seconds later, like 5 Infected are scratching and biting at her, and they bust through the wall.

The jig is up -- the Infected bust down the other walls. Alice is trying to keep the kid safe, and Don is fighting off Infected to keep them from Alice. The old people and the other guy run into the barn and are trying to bar the door while waiting for Don and Alice, but they fail, and the other guy escapes without them.

Alice and the kid are separated, and Alice refuses to escape without the kid (don't ask me why, it's not hers and for all she knows he's got a bite hidden somewhere). Don tries to keep them safe but once Alice is in a bedroom with the kid and he sees a way for himself to escape, Don faces destiny: does he probably die saving the woman he loves and some random little boy, or does he leave them to die and save his own ass?

He goes for Door #2 and runs like a whining little wuss. His wife is screaming for him, and all he does is run. He turns around to look at the house, and you can see Alice banging against the window silently screaming his name, and he just keeps on running. She disappears from the window, and he assumes she's dead and keeps running and running until he gets to a boat by a little river where the other dude is starting the engine. Don gets into the boat and the other guy is attacked and becomes immediately infected. Don bats him and the other Infected away and speeds off in the boat, blood streaming behind him. (Cool effect.) The gore so far is already topnotch, as we could only have expected.

But let's stop a moment and count how many people Don has killed so far.
In the first 10 minutes of the movie, Don, a simple human survivor, has killed 3 people already, and if you want to get wishy washy and say he didn't kill them deliberately, his actions directly lead to the deaths of 3 others.
Count 'em with me now, 3:
1. his freaking wife (yeah, that guy doesn't have committment issues or anything)
2. a poor, innocent young child
3. some random dude who got to the boat first and technically should have been the one to survive.

This does not bode well.

Ok, so now we're told the following (in very tiny lettering, like so:)

15 weeks later: Britain is quarantined.
24 weeks later: The Infected die of starvation.
28 weeks later: Reconstruction begins.*

*At this I asked, "What the hell is reconstruction?"

Apparently, reconstruction is the United States sending in troops (when wouldn't we?) and repatriating all of the lucky people who escaped from London before the worst of the outbreak. They've only got one small section of London - the Isle of Dogs - within their sphere of safety. They haven't even finished clearing the bodies of the infected from the rest of London, so possibly recontamination is just a hop and a skip over a bridge away. Yay, I feel safer already.

A few of my thoughts here:
I realize it's great to have your country back and all that, but if you had escaped that, would you REALLY want to go back? Everyone you knew there is dead, they haven't 100% cleared the entire country so a possible return of the infection is insanely possible, and not to mention you'll be living in one apartment complex with U.S. sniper guys watching you 24/7. Maybe you don't know that part before you go back, but still. I think surviving the Rage virus would be sufficient enough tragedy for me to want to stay escaped.

But, whatever. These people, including Don and Alice's kids (Tammy and Andy), come back to London. They are processed with U.S. military med people to make sure they're not carrying other diseases and are healthy, blah blah. The medical chief, Scarlet, makes a note of an unusual variation in the iris of Andy's eyes (one is blue and the other brown). She remarks that it is very rare and usually hereditary, and he says his mother had it. They meet their father at the platform to their new home (to which I again said, "What the hell?"). They go into their apartment and ask about their mother.

Don tells them she's dead, and that there was nothing he could do to save her. He doesn't tell them he saw her screaming for him through the window and that he has no idea what happened to her after he ran away. They don't really like this explanation, but in keeping with the first movie, there's very little emotion actually shown. Sure, they squeeze a few tears and there's a touching scene where Andy has a nightmare of his mother's face ripping off to reveal his own and he wakes up and makes his sister promise him that he won't forget his mother's face, but for the most part, they're pretty stony.

The next day, they sneak off to visit their former home which is located -- oh wait -- on the other side of the bridge that leads to infected carcasses and the ruins that nobody bothered to clean up before bringing people back into the mix. Think it through, guys, come on.

So these kids sneak past the impenetrable U.S. security force (way to go, guys) without any notice and hop and skip across the bridge. They steal a motorbike and drive all about until they get to their house. I wish I could tool around London in as little time as they can.

They get to their house and start packing belongings and the viewer feels bad because they show all this stuff that was their life and Tammy takes a picture of their mother from the fridge and hands it to Andy. As they're getting ready to leave, Andy hears something and goes up into the attic. You hear fluttering movements and see a quick moving figure so you know someone's in the room and it's not Tammy, and Andy is surprised to find his mother hiding behind some furniture. Surprised because, you know, his dad said he'd seen her die and that there was nothing he could have done to save her. Alice hugs Andy so tightly that she hurts him, and although he doesn't realize, it is obvious to us that she's infected. But she's not acting like an Infected, she's not trying to eat him and she can speak, she just seems really, really frazzled, and can you really blame her? Her husband left her for dead and then she somehow ran the whole way from that little cottage in god only knows where to her home in London with only one bitevmark. Man, she's good.

The kids exit the house to find military guys everywhere. They go back to the safe part of London, where Scarlet tests Alice and marvels at how she is immune to the virus but still carries it. Her commanding officer refuses Scarlet's insistence that she needs to be kept alive in order to study and possibly create a cure. Meanwhile, the kids confront their father, pretty upset that he lied to them about not being able to save her. He doesn't have much to say to them, only that "this is a good thing." Alice can't answer any questions about how she survived or whether or not she came in contact with the infected, but she does rasp, "I want to see my children."

But they don't get to see her, because their father is the biggest jerk on the planet. Remember how many people he's killed? Good. I hope you have a lot of fingers and toes cause there are a lot of numbers coming up. This dude is so messed up in the head that he uses his security clearance to get into the room where she's being quarantined (why he has an all-access security pass, we'll never know). He, sobbingly, tells her he's so sorry, and all she says is "I love you." Then, not knowing that she's infected (because at this point, even if he did he'd be too out of it to realize it), he kisses her -- remember, the virus is spread by bodily fluids, including good ol' everyday spit, and he kisses her so sloppily we get to witness the spit-swap. Yum.

Of course, he's now infected. Pretty much immediately. And now, after all this poor woman has already been through, after she's just caught a glimpse of her kids and is hoping to actually hug them and tell them she loves them, her husband (who left her for dead already, remember?) beats the tar out of her and gouges out her eyes with his fingers.

Dating tip, ladies: Choose your mate wisely. You need to make sure he won't leave you for dead and then kill you in a horrible fashion when it's discovered you're not really dead. You can tell from a few questions, like, "Honey, are you a wuss?" If the answer is anything that seems to you like "yes," ditch him. You need someone who'll save your ass and his before choosing to let you die. It's all in the choices you make.

So now the Rage virus is back and in rare form, and this time around we actually get to see how fast it spreads. And ladies and gentlemen, it's freaking fast. No waiting around for last words or taking the "long walk*" before becoming a killing machine. Don breaks into a basement where hundreds of people are realizing they're being locked in and not saved. In seconds, half the crowd is infected and the other half are running for their lives, breaking down the doors the army just locked. The head guy ordered a Code Red, whose first stage is to contain (meaning, let everyone die and get the hell out of there). The snipers are first told to target the infected, but as it becomes increasingly difficult for the snipers to be sure who's a target, the head guy tells them that selective targeting is off and to shoot everyone. EVERYONE. You can see the snipers fighting with this as we see through their scopes uninfected and infected alike being shot, and when one sniper gets Andy in his sights, he decides to pack it in and follows the kid to Scarlet and Tammy, who are hiding in the medical building. He offers to help the few people hiding there escape, and they start off. The head guy announces that they've lost control which leads to stage 3 of Code Red, exterminate everything. Now it's getting really fun.

They lose a few people to a sniper straight off, leaving just Scarlet, Doyle (the ex-sniper), and some random guy (I guess his name is Sam). Doyle tries to convince Sam to run in zigzags to get the sniper to give away his position so that Doyle can shoot him. Sam refuses, but Andy runs out before anyone can stop him and Doyle shoots the sniper. He talks to his friend Flynn (a helicoptor pilot) on his radio, and he tells him they're firebombing the entire area and he'll meet him at Regent Park, not knowing that he has other people with him. The small crew make it to the park, where the kids vow never to be separated again, and Scarlet explains to Doyle how important the children are. Flynn says he'll land in 15 seconds but there's also a horde of the Infected headed straight for them.

Once Flynn lowers the helicoptor, he realizes that Doyle has people with him. He refuses to take them, and, in desperation, Sam (the random guy), grabs onto the helicoptor. Flynn is frustrated and off-balance, but the weight causes him to do this awesome maneuver where he uses Sam hanging on and lowering the blades on one side to cut through half of the Infected. Sam is hacked to bits, and Flynn still refuses to take Doyle's guests, but he tells Doyle where he'll be next and Doyle swears that they will all be there. The head honcho authorizes the use of chemical weapons. Now the gang of four not only have to worry about the Infected and firebombs, they have a huge haze of gas chasing them. They do some magical thing with a car where Doyle pushes and Scarlet releases the clutch at the right time and the car drives off just as Doyle is engulfed in flame by the army men burning the bodies of the Infected and everything else that is in their way.

Scarlet and the kids now have to get to what is supposed to Wembley Stadium, but is in reality a lesser field edited to look like Wembley (Wembley was still under construction at this time), but first they go through the subway (which I always consider a bad idea, even when not in the midst of the apocalypse). The kids can't see, so Scarlet guides them down the escalators (which have stopped working and conveniently become stairs**) with the sights of the rifle Doyle left her, and all we see is the kids through her scope, with the knowledge that the kids can't see anything at all. Scarlet tries to keep Tammy from tripping on corpses, but both kids slip and Scarlet only finds Tammy after a moment. But someone else finds's Don, the wifekiller with a GPS tracking system in his blood (you give me a better reason how he followed them the whole movie)! He's survived firebombs and gas and even though the kids were far away from him and in a car at one point, he's still somehow in the tunnel the same time they are. Check out SuperZombie!

Time out, bodycount check!
Let's see if we can keep our tab going. So far we've got...
1. his wife (who wasn't really dead but he thought she was)
2. the innocent little boy
3. the other guy from the beginning who would have escaped if Don hadn't run away like a sissy
4. his wife (for real this time, and yeah it counts as twice)
5. pretty much EVERYONE ELSE IN THE MOVIE. Yeah, that's right. He's pretty much responsible for the carnage of the entire movie. Someone needs to take a time out to think about what he's done and apologize to a whole boatload of dead people.

He bludgeons Scarlet to death (add a point to the list just above this sentence), leaving Tammy to find her brother and escape her infected father all by herself. Which she does, remarkably. Apparently she really was very upset that he left her mother to die, because she shoots him several times, and he's down for the count. Badass little chickie saves the day...for now. Well, at least SuperJerk's dead, anyway. Now would be a good time for her to eat a sandwich...she had to have lost 2 of her 5 lbs expending all that effort.

Tammy and Andy make it to the stadium, where Flynn and his helicoptor are waiting. At first he orders them to stop and asks for Doyle. Tammy has somehow lost the ability to speak (I told you she needs a sandwich) and only manages, "It's just us." This is apparently good enough for Flynn, and they get in the helicoptor and fly away and yay they live happily ever after...

haha, not.

28 days later, the helicoptor is empty and an S.O.S. comes over Flynn's unmanned radio. Cut to a shot of the Infected running toward the Eiffel Tower. Cut to credits.

I have several problems with this movie. Some of them are the plotholes, some of them involve questioning the actions and motives of fictional characters.

See, I'm a thinker. I ask questions. I've been asking questions since I was old enough to pronounce the word "why" and inflect my voice to make it a question. I may have been born doing this, or it's in my blood, but it's there, and it usually only gets me into trouble.

So here are my issues, first the practical ones that you yourself may have asked:
1. How'd Don make it to London? That's one mighty speedboat.
2. How did he manage to get security clearance? There's no way he'd have that kind of access with Americans controlling everything. They wouldn't trust one of the survivors to do their work.
3. How in the hell did Alice get back to London???? She was in a room surrounded by the Infected, and she somehow managed to escape with only a bite and some scratches and then she ran all the way to her house in London and didn't die of starvation because...???
4. What's up with Stalker Zombie? How (and why) did Don stalk his kids? Seriously, how? Why wasn't he like any other Infected who just ran around killing people? He seemed to try purposefully to find his kids, and I don't know how he found them not to mention how he didn't get killed 800 times on the way.
5. What happened at the end?? Was the kid immune, or what? Did he infect Tammy and Flynn and that's how they crashed, or what? Is the crashed helicoptor near the Eiffel Tower...are they how the infection spread to France? If not, how did it, since we established with Don's original wussy escape that the Infected can't swim.

And now my more plaguing questions that make me take issue with the movie, even while recognizing its merits:
1. Why on earth is reconstruction happening only 6-7 months after the infection??? Who in the hell sends people back into a quarantine zone before they've even finished cleaning it up? Seriously, who gave orders for that kind of retarded operation, the U.S. President?
Oh. Iraq. Right. Nevermind.
2. What kind of jerk leaves his wife to die in order to save his own ass? Think about this. If you love someone, you don't want to be without them, so, even if you did end up living, what's the point of surviving alone? Sure, you could say he had his kids but that's so unfair to have to tell your kids "I pretty much killed your mother so I could be here today." They'd probably have chosen her over him if given a choice, anyway. Seriously. This dude was a wuss and a coward and a JERK. Would you leave someone you cared about in a room full of zombies and watch them scream for you and pound against the window and turn around and keep running? If you would, I definitely do not want to be your friend, so let me know before we start a relationship.
3. Going back to point one, why even bother to repatriate if you knew there was a chance of reinfection?? Why would you ever go into a plan knowing there was a Code Red, which involved killing EVERYONE? What the hell is wrong with humanity??
4. Who even writes a story in which a guy who leaves his wife for dead later kills her with his bare hands? Seriously...who even THINKS that? That's really sick.

So basically, my conclusion is that I understand it is a decent movie and it raised a lot of questions which is a good quality for a movie to have, but I think that my issues with the movie are going to have to outweigh the gore and a very clear apocalypse. It's definitely not as good as its predecessor, which is a better comment on human nature and a more well thought out plot with much more character development. I'd give 28 Weeks Later 3 stars if it was a stand-alone movie, but since it's the sequel to a far superior film, I'm going to have to give it only 2.

It is, however, fantastic if you're a fan of the gore part of the horror genre. In that aspect it actually exceeds the first one. But that's not what gets me, so, still 2 stars.

And since reading this probably took as long as watching the film (and certainly took as long to write), I'll leave it at that. If you have any logical answers for my questions, by all means, let me know. I'd love to discuss it and either like or dislike it more than I already do.

*The "long walk" is the scenario in a zombie survival situation where a member of a group of survivors is bitten and has a choice to make: Either be shot right then by a comrade, or take the long walk to a safe distance from your friends where you either shoot yourself or die naturally and become a zombie.

**R.I.P. Mitch Hedburg

So...anyone have any thoughts? ;)

Sun Apr 18, 2010 3:56 am
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