Release date: June 27, 2003 (US) (sometime 2002, UK)
Genre: Science Fiction, Suspense
Overall: The movie is not about "zombies" (as created by the infection of a disease), but about the darker side of human nature. While the background setting is very similar to the black-and-white Vincent Price movie The Last Man on Earth where most of the world becomes infected with a virus that turns people to "vampires" while Vincent searches for a cure... this one has a virus that infects people and makes them into savage creatures. "Rage" is a fitting name for the virus, the only time the infected did not seem consumed with a killing rage is when they slept or when there was nothing (uninfected) for them to infect. This isn't a spoiler: no medicinal cure is found. Like I said, the movie isn't so much about the disease, but about the human condition.
Overall, the movie does a very good job. The two main characters, Jim and Selena, show a good level of progression from who they are at the start to who they become, at the end, because of what they go through. At the start, Jim awakes from a bit of a coma (had been in an accident involving a car and his bicycle), and the world seems... empty. There are no people anywhere... until he finds his first, some infected, in a church. He realizes something is wrong and runs, feeling bad at having struck a priest who was coming at him with murderous intent. He meets Selena who has been surviving for three weeks, with another fellow. However, you can easily see her mind is fully in survival mode. Her humanity is a shell left in place from habit. This shows through when, while staying at Jim's house for a night, some infected break in and attack. The infection passes through blood and saliva, and the infected have a habit of projectile vomiting blood... during the battle, Jim and Mark (the other fellow), are both attacked and covered in blood. Selena, machete in hand, checks the scene... sees Jim is normal, though covered in blood, and saying he had gotten no blood in his mouth (though in the eyes would also work). Mark looks very frightened, the look of someone who knows they are doomed, though he says "wait...". Selena is quick to hack him down and kill him... the virus takes only about 10-20 seconds to take over the body of an infected.
As Selena travels with Jim, meeting Frank and Hanna, she begins to reclaim her humanity. She sees that even though the world is violent and dying around them, Frank and Hanna, a father and daughter, still hold some home, and can even laugh and smile at times. They are still a family though the rest of the world has fallen apart.
Jim, on the other hand, begins to realize that he must shed his good nature or die. The world is simply too violent at the moment for him to do otherwise. He is forced to kill an adolescent boy who had become infected... and does so with only some regret. And his journey into the brutal, survival side of human nature continues moreso when they find the small group of military fortified in a manshion.
The military is a small group, entirely men, that had begun to give up hope for the world. They have an infected, originally one of their own, captive, where they are learning how they behave... and how long it takes the infected to starve to death. However, we soon learn that the leader of the group had promised him men women: even if the infected were to die off, what use would a group of just men be... they would simply be "waiting to die". Women provide a hope for a future. When Jim tries to protect Selena and Hanna from the military that plan to rape them, they take him and the one moralistic soldier left in their group to a ditch in the woods to be executed. Jim escapes and becomes revenge incarnate (excellently done).
But in the end, we as people can't survive solely for survival.
Visual: The camerawork was annoying during the actions scenes. While the method is great for instilling a sense of chaos and things being hectic... it's hard to keep track of what's going on and the camera shots jump around a bit too much. There are a lot of good shots that you can see part of a corpse... or is it an infected?! lying somewhere or that they have to pass near, in parts. Costumes were fitting. The empty cities, empty highways, empty marts... all done very well.
Audio: The soundtrack is good in that it isn't there most of the time. The movie uses minimalistic sounds... typically wind, to increase the sense of emptiness. When there is music, it doesn't override dialogue like in some movies, and it was fitting enough for the movie, the music wasn't just pop (or pop metal or pop rock or pop punk) music crammed in to make money on a soundtrack cd.
Plot: There were a few contrived parts that diminished the strength of the plot. While it was necessary, later, for Frank to have died, in order for the latter portion of the movie to go smoothly... Frank could have died better. He acted rather out of character, trying to shoo a crow from a corpse above him... and the military that they had showed up to find only themselves showed up just as he started to attack as an infected? Coincidence can only stretch so far. Other than that, the story does a good job and is very realistic.
Character Development: As mentioned in the overview, the two main characters go through a lot of changes and growth. No characters in the movie are stale, all are believeable in their roles. Other than the Frank's death, nothing stood out as out-of-place. The acting was great.
Theme: I was thrown off by the commercial previews for the movie. I was expecting a thriller type movie with lots of zombies and a minimal plot... but I was thoroughly pleased that this was not the case. There were some scenes that fit with horror being built... whenever they knew the infected were coming and needed to find some kind of shelter or escape... (I won't ruin scenes by telling all of them).
Fun: I enjoyed the movie, and it made me think (not a tremendous amount, but plenty more than your average movie). While the movie setting is pretty brutal and not a happy one, it does make you glad you're not there ;) And of course, I am drawn to the strength of human spirit overcoming the baser needs of survival, to show that even in this setting, civilization doesn't die away completely.
|28 Days Later|