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28 Days Later
2002 - R - 113 Mins.
Director: Danny Boyle
Producer: Andrew MacDonald
Written By: Alex Garland
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns
Review by: Jennie Kermode
   
Unsurprisingly, this latest slice of British survivalist science fiction doesn't live up to the hype, its power to astound being based in the fact that it's offering mainstream audiences something they haven't seen before (but which every science fiction fan has). It's well made, however, and solidly acted, and overall well worth going to see. It is the second of 2002's blockbuster stealth zombie movies (after 'Signs'), but its zombies are fast and agile, making them scarier than the traditional type. They stand in for the plants in what is otherwise a fairly straightforward adaptation of 'Day of the Triffids', at least in terms of its central characters, its plot, and its political context. Danny Boyle has stamped his personal mark all over it, with some beautiful cinematography, a loud soundtrack which is in turns stirring and incongruous, and a realistic, unglamorous approach to appearances and dialogue. This makes his blatant thieving from 'Night of the Comet' more forgiveable, as it adds a refreshing edge to proceedings.

Focusing on the experiences of survivors after a hideous plague which drove people, well, rabid (there are several nods to Cronenburg here), '28 Days Later' is essentially a parable centred on the notion that people have always been killing one another and probably always will, diseased or not. This format always presents problems with pacing and with lapses into cliche, most of which Boyle handles well, being unafraid to run with them when he has no other choice. At times his dramatic use of lighting goes too far, so that action sequences become inappropriately confused. Several interesting tangents (for instance, the heroine's chance to contemplate for herself what she'd be prepared to put up with in exchange for safety) are cut off rather abruptly. Triffids' right wing characters are blurred together so that their subtlety is lost. What remains is a perfectly good story, but one which keeps on hinting that it could have been more interesting. The very end of the film is odd, and seems tacked-on, though clearly there was something there before it; given that the film doesn't seem nearly so bleak as test audiences reported, one wonders if it has been altered, in which case there might be a more satisfying director's cut coming our way in a couple of years' time.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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