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28 Weeks Later(2007)
28 Weeks Later picks up six months after the rage virus has annihilated the Mainland Britain. The U.S. Army declares that the war against infection has been won, and that the reconstruction of the country can begin. As the first wave of refugees return, a family is reunited - but one of them unwittingly carries a terrible secret that threatens to reignite the deadly explosion of bloodlust, carnage and chaos.
For more about 28 Weeks Later and the 28 Weeks Later Blu-ray release, see 28 Weeks Later Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 18, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack, Idris Elba, Imogen Poots
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
» See full cast & crew
28 Weeks Later Blu-ray Review
A sequel worthy of its predecessor is yet another home run from Fox
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 18, 2007
Step one: kill the infected. Step two: containment. If containment fails, step three: extermination. They won't stop until everyone is dead.
28 Weeks Later is a more straightforward, mainstream film than its predecessor, 28 Days Later, but it is still just as incredibly effective. Shot with a bigger budget and more sophisticated equipment (all the while maintaining the general feeling of the first film), Weeks delivers on several levels-- it's scary and gruesome, but it also humanizes the rage victims in the film, all the while giving the viewer hope for the future of this world and at the same time letting us know that this disaster is far from over. While not quite as good as the original, this film stays true to the story and moves it forward in a logical manner. The story is set 28 weeks after the outbreak of Rage across England, a viral infection that almost instantaneously transforms its victims into blood-spitting, crazed "monsters" that are driven by the need to devour human flesh. In the 28 weeks since the outbreak, we learn that the virus has been all but eradicated. The infected have died of starvation (presumably with no more victims to devour) and a U.S. led NATO force has been put in place to begin the repatriation process.
Our protagonists are siblings, Andy and Tammy (Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots), who are returning to London to meet their father, played by the ever dependable Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting). I hesitate to say more about the plot because each of these characters' motivations and the consequences of their actions are very integral to the unfolding of the story. One aspect of the film I truly enjoyed was watching the dynamics of this family being thrust into the middle of such a horrific situation. I felt that there was really no plot contrivances at all in this film. These characters behave like I imagine I or most normal people would respond to such circumstances. Every action leading up to the eventual re-introduction of the virus into society seems so innocent that, even though you know it is coming, you never jump out of your seat and shout for this character or that to not do what they are about to do. They are driven by real emotions and fears, not by some dumbed down script to get the action from point A to point B. One problem I did have with the plot dealt with the U.S. Military's use of what they termed "Code Red." I'm not going to divulge any details, but needless to say I have reservations that the military would resort to implementing this plan as early on as it did. I understand the rationale behind it to be sure and I certainly could not imagine having to be in charge with such an order looming in a situation such as that depicted in the film. I would just like to think that there would be another solution available before resorting to your last option so quickly.
Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has proven himself here not merely to be a competent filmmaker but a remarkable one. With only a handful of films under his belt (including the critically acclaimed Intacto) Juan Carlos should start popping up on many Hollywood short lists alongside other A-list directors. I was very, very impressed with his work here. His ability to stay true to the first film and make a sequel that in almost every way lives up to what has become a classic horror film is incredibly impressive. Much of this film's visual style is reminiscent of a Michael Bay film, but in this case that's not a bad thing. Fresnadillo handles the quick edits and fast paced action with grace and leaves the viewer feeling like part of the action and not feeling a headache from the way Bay handles quick cuts and rapid camera movements. I believe we will see many good things from Juan Carlos Fresnadillo in the future.
28 Weeks Later Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like 28 Days Later, portions of Weeks were filmed at times with lesser quality sources so as to stay true to the original movie. As a result, the material shot on DV and 16mm will be covered in an inherent fine layer of grain. These scenes were most evident when "the infected" appear on screen, and this was confirmed by Fresnadillo in the commentary track. He wanted the camera to be "infected" when infection is on-screen. This was a key stylistic choice in making the film. As such, I cannot mark the video presentation down for stylistic choices of the director. For years, movie fans have demanded their films be presented as the director intended--in their original aspect ratio, including original audio tracks (even Monaural tracks in a multi-channel audio age), and even original poster artwork for disc covers (though in the "floating heads" Photoshop era this one is not likely to be resolved anytime soon). Now in the high-definition era, "flaws" in movies will become more and more apparent, but when those flaws are there for a reason I find it incomprehensible to complain about an image quality that is being presented just as it was meant to be seen and as it was seen in theaters.
Still, despite the artistic choices made, this 1080p presentation of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio film does indeed look wonderful. The disc is advertised to run at an average of 37Mbps and I saw it peak at 50Mbps on my PS3. Much of the film is dark and blacks levels don't disappoint. The portions of the movie shot in 35mm really stand out as true reference material. You'll be hard pressed to find a better authored video presentation on Blu-ray, except maybe from other Fox titles. Fox has truly become an industry leader in accurately reproducing the theatrical experience as closely as possible for the home theater audience.
28 Weeks Later Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sonically, this is a demo-worthy disc that will test the limits of the best home theater systems out there. As per their norm, a DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track is the featured audio source on this disc. Unfortunately, few players currently on the market can decode this track (including the Playstation 3) but it is still playable as a 1.5Mbps core DTS track that is, in a word, remarkable. Still, I cannot wait to have the ability to decode the Master track, if for no other reason than to hear how it can possibly sound any better than what we get in the core track. Directionality is superb. Fighter jets fly from one end of your room to the other; the crackle of gunfire makes you want to take cover behind your sofa; the screams of the infected and of their intended victims make you want to hide in the closet. This track sounds remarkably natural and clear while maintaining its aggressive nature. Bass is ever present but not completely overpowering. It will shake the windows and get your heart pounding, but only when the situation demands it. Likewise, dialogue and quieter moments come through crystal clear. You will be enveloped by the track and it definitely puts you in the middle of the action. The movie's main theme, carried over from the previous film, is one of my favorites. Starting as a melancholic bass guitar at the outset of the track and becoming a series of edgy electric guitar riffs, John Murphy's theme is powerful, energetic, and fits the mood of this film perfectly.
28 Weeks Later Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fox has provided an average set of supplements on this Blu-ray disc. First up is a feature commentary with director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and writer/producer Enrique López-Lavigne. It's your standard fare commentary track that is informative for fans and those interested in the technical aspects of the making of the film. It certainly does a much better job of conveying the challenges of making the film than the short documentaries presented on the disc.
Next are deleted scenes with optional commentary. Both scenes are presented in 480p (as are all the other supplements on the disc save for the trailers). I don't feel that these scenes would have added anything to the film, but Juan Carlos tells us why he thought they were important and why it was difficult to get rid of them. I found it interesting that they admit that sometimes ideas that sound great on paper just don't work on film. I liked the refreshing candor from this director.
The disc also includes two featurettes: Code Red and The Infected. These are primarily filler pieces with a few interesting tidbits but are nowhere near as interesting the feature commentary.
Rounding off the disc are 28 Days Later: Stage 1 Development and 28 Days Later: Stage 3 Decimation. These are short animated comic books that show what happened leading up to the events of the first film and about two rival survivors during the aftermath, respectively. The special features are wrapped up with trailers for this film and its predecessor, 28 Days Later, both presented in 1080p.
28 Weeks Later Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The second (and hopefully not the last) installment of the 28 Days series is a solid follow-up effort to the first film. It's fast paced, scary, at times unpredictable, gory, and a darn good presentation on Blu-ray. The visual and audio aspects of the disc are top notch as we have come to expect from Fox's releases. Unfortunately, the extras on the disc are not quite what I was hoping for and I have to mark down the overall score as a result.
Fox continues to impress with the high quality of their releases. Despite a higher price tag, I believe that Fox will soon become Blu-ray's leading studio based on their efforts so far and the vast number of quality films available in their archive to release on this format. This disc is easily recommended.
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