Friday, April 09, 2010

Days and Weeks

I've just been watching the DVDs for the two Zombie films 28 Days Later and the sequel 28 Weeks Later. I'd seen the first one years ago, probably when it came out, but the sequel I'd not seen before. 28 Days Later is one of those films which gets a good rep from the mainstream, probably in part because the director, Danny Boyle, is seen as being cool and hip after films like Trainspotting. It's actually not a bad little film, with some awesome cinematography of a deserted London at the start. I do have a problem with the chief scientist guy as he's played by David Schneider, who I know from the comedy The Day Today. So I find those scenes a little hard to take seriously. Our Hero, Jim, awakens in a deserted hospital and then goes walkabout wondering what has happened. You can see parallels here with the old BBC series Survivors, and indeed that the remake stole some of the ideas and imagery from this film in turn. Unfortunately, Jim meets up with some fellow survivors of the virus - called the Rage - and they set off across country, ending up captives of a group of soldiers led by Christopher Eccleston in a great little performance. The problem I tend to have with all these 'post apocalyptic' films - and indeed novels - is that few have anything really interesting to say, and it's all down to the basics: how do the survivors get food, power, water, medical supplies and so on ... fighting against both themselves, and whatever random threat is 'out there'. The film ends on a sort of hopeful note with an airplane being spotted - signalling that perhaps there are others out there who survived the virus. It has been argued that the film doesn't have zombies in ... as these are just humans infected with the Rage virus which makes them get angry, vomit blood, get bad teeth and complexion and run after normal humans to eat them ... sounds like zombies to me. And if it looks like a zombie and acts like a zombie ... The sequel, 28 Weeks Later, follows a similar trajectory, although it focuses initially on the rebuilding of life in the UK once all the infected people have died of hunger. This time the 'hero' is a man called Don, who is reunited with his two kids after a horrific zombie attack at the start of the film. Predictably, the kids disobey the rules and go back to their old house to collect some things, and find that their mother is there in a crazed and animalistic (but not zombified) state. She is taken back to the labs (strangely housed in the same residential block where all the survivors have been placed as part of their return to the UK. A brilliant piece of tactical planning by the US army there). Of course she is still infected with the virus, though immune herself, and when hubby finds her and kisses her .... ten seconds later he has the Rage and escapes to infect the rest of the humans in the complex ... The film then descends into zombies versus soldiers ... and guess who wins? Unfortunately from a very well directed and exciting opening, and a good idea about how the infection takes hold again, the film gets boring quite quickly. It's the same as everything else out there unfortunately, but without a strong underlying plot or characters to drive it forward. One thing about it though - the music. During the opening sequences, as Don is running from the zombies, and again at the end of the film, I found that I recognised the music ... to the extent that I had to check. And yes, indeed it is, the music is all but identical to Murray Gold's music for the Doctor Who episode 'Doomsday' where Rose is on the beach at the end ... that haunting score which everyone loved so much. The scores are so similar, that I even played them together ... the Who one is a tad faster, but otherwise ... 28 Weeks Later was released in 2007, and the 'Doomsday' episode of Doctor Who was broadcast in 2006 ... so maybe the composer for 28 Weeks Later (John Murphy) is a Doctor Who fan? We shall never know.

1 comment:

The Grumpy Cleric said...

I agree, yet again.

"... Weeks ..." is pretty good until it turns into a pretty transparent metaphor for the allied occupation of Iraq & it becomes nihilistic tosh by the end.