Saturday, August 18, 2007

Apocalypse now!

28 Weeks Later
Directed by: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Amanda Walker, Catherine McCormack

It feels weird. I mean we are talking about another sequel here. Another one? Yes sir. And that too a zombie movie, a genre done to death by Hollywood. Yet, here is a film that makes you sit up and think. Pretty absurd actually, but it's true. Who could have ever thought that a film inspired by titles like Dawn of the Dead and Resident Evil would outclass all the previous attempts and make you sick and claustrophobic, literally.
Apocalypse, Armageddon, end of the world, whatever you may call it, this has been a pet science fiction theme, where the world, as we know it, collapses and humanity stands at the brink of extinction. In this context, this film, like its predecessor 28 Days Later is a post-apocalyptic science fiction horror movie.
Don't ask why Britain, especially London has become the prime site of humanity's last fight for survival (Remember Children of Men?). Anyway, the scene is London. As the title suggests, the film begins 28 weeks after the events of depicted in Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, where a contagious and deadly virus wipes out the entire population of British Isle, barring a few survivors. No, the virus does not kill, but make you a zombie, mindless and violent.
28 weekly later, a platoon of US army arrives at the scene to rescue the survivors. But the epidemic is far from over. You may miss the cast of the earlier film, especially Naomi Harris as Selena, but this time the focus is the Don Harris (Robert Carlyle) and his two children Tammy and Andy. Their mother is attacked by the zombies but she is not dead. Soon Alice Harris is found and doctors discover that her blood contains a natural antidote to the virus. But she is still a carrier and soon the virus begins to spread again, and mayhem resumes. How the two children survive all the violence is the crux of rest of the film.
Unlike other zombie movies, the aim of the film is not to scare you, but to leave you claustrophobic, make you feel the utter sense of lose and to force you to think, what if this was all real! And Juan Carlos Fresnadillo succeeds in bringing home the message bloody loud.
Danny Boyle's film was especially lauded for its images of a deserted London, with all the grand buildings and no human, and like all faithful sequels, this one amplifies those scenes (just watch the city being blown away by napalm), giving us a picture of utter hopelessness. And this is this sense of hopelessness that makes the movie worth your time. Whatever you may do, you are dead, sooner and later.
In a film like this you don't expect class acting, but as usual Carlyle is marvelous and so are the other actors.

Rating *** (Good)

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