"28 Days Later" was a moderate hit that starred Cillian Murphy as a man who went into the hospital, only to wake up and find out that the streets were empty and that a terrible virus had been unleashed upon the population of the UK - there's no government left, no television, no electricity, no anything. The first film (directed by "Trainspotting"'s Danny Boyle) followed a small band of survivors as they attempted to flee for safety from those infected by the virus, who were sent into a bloodthirsty, zombie-like rage.
The film opens with Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack), a couple whose children - Tammy (Imogen Poots, who looks like a cross between Scarlett Johansson and Kiera Knightley) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) - were gone on school vacation during the outbreak. They've barricaded themselves in a cottage house, but things are not safe for long - a small boy accidentially leads a group of the infected to their door, and when Alice and the boy are trapped, Don chooses to escape, leaving them behind and just barely making it to a nearby boat.
Cut to weeks later, where we're told that a US-led NATO force has arrived in the country to try and lead a rebuilding effort. The infected have all thought to have died of starvation. The military include a nurse (Rose Byrne), a pilot (Harold Perrineau) and a soldier (Jeremy Renner). The survivors and military live in a "clean zone", thinking that they are safe. The kids, as kids in movies will do, run off and manage to find a secret they never thought they would find.
Soon enough, the virus once again reappears, this time from an unexpected source. The city is locked down and survivors quickly search for safety that does not appear to exist. The two children manage to meet the soldier and the nurse and run for the hills, with the rage-infected zombies close behind them.
The second film is essentially a more expensive remake of the first picture, with some larger action sequences and grander effects. The action sequences are entertaining when one can actually make out what's going on. For some unknown reason, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has taken "shaky cam" to a new level, as the camera whips around so dramatically during the action sequences that they make the cinematography of director Paul Greengrass's "Bourne Identity" sequels seem relatively static by comparison.
There are some positives to the film, though: the two child actors give moving, believable and really rather impressive efforts. These are two of the better child performances I've seen in recent years. Byrne and Renner are also terrific in supporting efforts. Robert Carlyle is also very good as the father with a secret he's holding back from his kids. Rose Byrne and Jeremy Renner also make the best out of fairly underdeveloped characters.
Overall, "28 Weeks Later" remains a watchable and occasionally engaging zombie sequel, but it acts largely as a continuation with different characters instead of taking things in new and unexpected directions.
VIDEO: "28 Weeks Later" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered just adequate image quality, with some noticable artifacting and some shimmering. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy will likely offer differing (and hopefully better) image quality.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack really gets rolling just under an hour in when the action begins in force. The surrounds kick in with an array of creepy effects and ambience, as well as mild reinforcement for the score. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, well-recorded effects and dialogue.
EXTRAS: director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and producer Enrique Lopez-Lavigne offer an audio commentary that is fairly drab. While the two do offer some good tidbits about shooting in London, they do spend a fair amount of time praising those they worked work and simply narrating the story.
A "making of" documentary that runs several minutes is interesting, as we hear about some of the many different ideas that were thrown out. Oddly though, the filmmakers discuss how they didn't want to repeat the first film, which they essentially have. Still, this is an interesting look at the development of the idea and production.
"The Infected" looks into the look of the infected characters, as well as their movement (there is actually a movement coach.) "Getting Into the Action" is a short look into building the action sequences. We also get two "shorts" that essentially act as graphic novel-like looks at the story. Finally, we get deleted scenes with commentary, the trailer and trailers for other Fox horror titles.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "28 Weeks Later" remains a watchable and occasionally engaging zombie sequel, but it acts largely as a continuation with different characters instead of taking things in new and unexpected directions. Rent it.
The Film B-