Monday, February 18, 2008

The Late Review: 28 Days Later

Since I'm a boring person and I don't go to movies, rent movies often, or watch TV, I'm invariably a year or two (or six) behind on the latest Hollywood releases. I finally gotten around to renting 28 Days Later. I had to clean my handgun today, and nothings better than zombie movies for keeping one occupied while picking off carbon deposits IMHO.

Since I'm so far behind, I doubt I'll be ruining the plot for anyone when I described the plot as your typical virus-induced post-apocalyptic zombie survival horror flick.

Wonder what it says about my generation that the above can be described as "typical?"

In the film's favor is a decent cast who are all believable as real people, as real people also do not know how to act. Real people tend to have a significantly lower incidence of washboard abs, but I'll forgive that one too. Overall, I bought the characters pretty well, with the exception of Cillian Murphy's habit of standing around with his mouth hanging open like a pallid trout. I found the zombies pretty cool in a Parkinsonian kind of way. I liked the way they vomited blood intermittently, which is how some real hemorrhagic fevers like to transmit themselves. Nothing like bloody vomit and seizures to really fling some love around.

The zombifying virus is accidentally released from poorly guarded animal labs by activists who are apparently too idiotic noble to understand the definition of the words "infected," "contagious," and "blood-borne." Having some limited understanding of the general mindset of the ALF folks, I found this sequence totally believable.

Perhaps I am too much of what my mother calls "those compound people," but I had some serious problems starting with scene one, when our protagonist Jim wanders out of the hospital in his green scrubs. Am I the only one here that when faced with something severely wrong with the world would attempt to locate a jacket, some jeans maybe?

Ok, ok, I'll give it the scrubs because the visual with the green scrubs in the desolate city is pretty good, but....

Here's where the British influence really shows. If faced with a horde of quick but moronic zombies who need to be killed occasionally and transmit a horrible virus through direct fluid contact, whatever would I use to kill them? Gee, I think I'll use a machete or baseball bat that would effectively guarantee copious blood splatter in my facial direction!

Or I could get a Big. Farking. Gun.

Maybe I'm just an evil American, but the first thing I would do if under immediate threat of zombies is locate the nearest gun store, military base, or survivalist enclave and load myself up some serious firepower. Then, because the zombies are stupid and apparently have forgotten how to open doors, I'd find a location that has reinforced buildings and canned food (like a military base or a jail) and camp out there until the zombies starve.

Maybe it's just common knowledge these days that there aren't any guns in London. Perhaps guns are too politically incorrect to sully the hands of our intrepid survivors with, since we find out the only people who have guns are....

...wait for it....

.... the military bad guys. Shocking. No really, I never expect the military to be the antagonists. It just NEVER happens in movies these days.

This is where 28DL really lost me. I completely failed to understand the conflict that they introduced at this point. Our brave band of adventurers (1 male, 2 females, one of which is underage) are picked up by a remnant of the British Army (all male) who have their act pretty well together, but are a bit frayed around the edges. They act uncomfortable from the get-go, are possibly scandalized by the fact that the head honcho is keeping a zombie captive to see how soon it dies, and go all totally batshit insane when they find out that the military guys are trying to track down women.

First, the military guys had the right idea. They made themselves a defensible point and were trying to figure out how to rebuild some semblance of society. Second, the whole needing to have women around to rebuild society with is spot on. Depending on the available female population it seems completely reasonable to hang on to the few you find, even if you can't be 100% polite about it. Having reverted back to an uncivil state of existence, I really don't find it surprising or particularly outrageous that women might be expected to trade sex and childbearing for male protection and sustenance. I kept having this idea that if everyone stopped freaking out about everything quite so much a nicer solution than getting raped anyways could have been found.

Also, I would have kept a captured zombie too. Good source of killed virus for vaccines, if anyone happened to turn up a GlaxoSmithKline employee.

Anyhow, though I started off all geared up to like this movie, and just didn't. The zombies really weren't that bad and didn't have any really imposing value, as they just jumped out and got easily beat down every so often. The military antagonists didn't do it for me because I agreed with their motives.

Bottom line, I'll rent Resident Evil next time instead. That one has better zombies, evil computers, crushing atmosphere, and lasers. And Marilyn Manson. And creepy little girls. And fandom appeal. Can't lose.

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