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IN SHORT: More of the same. Cool... [Rated R for strong violence and gore, language and some sexuality/nudity. 120 minutes]
It's been four years, or about a thousand films in this critic's lifetime, since viewing 28 Days Later blissfully killed it's share of our brain cells. That first film was good enough that we really looked forward to this sequel. Fueled by a sugar rush from publicist supplied cupcakes; this on top of the usual roar from the pain killers that keep us upright, we planted and enjoyed the ride. As with many sequels, this one doesn't bother to recap the why of the Rage Virus that ripped through London in the first film. It does begin with said Virus ripping into a family hiding in the basement of a country house. Thus, we meet Don (Robert Carlyle) and Alice (Catherine McCormack), among other, congratulating themselves for the good luck that their kidlets are away on a school field trip while all the zombies at home munch on the femur of the day.
Again, we know these undead aren't real zombies. The new film doesn't bother to make the difference known, doesn't bother to explain any of the why of the horror -- which means nothing to those of you that have memorized the video of #1, and everything to anyone who isn't aware of that back story -- but the story that spins out post 28 Days Later is a pretty good one. Cranky's problem is how to lay out the basics without wrecking any good surprises, of which there are a couple.
First, we'll repeat what is buried in the opening scenes of 28 Weeks Later. The "rage virus" is transmitted by fluid exchange. If a zombie blows up all over your face, don't lick the blood off of your lips. Fluid Exchange. If a zombie hocks a loogie in your general direction, don't catch it with your mouth wide open. Fluid exchange. IF you get infected, you lose you mind and must tear the flesh off of any uninfected thing you meet. Basic zombie. All you need to know. Let's move on.
28 Weeks Later centers on the aforementioned Don, who survives the initial ordeal, and Alice, who apparently didn't (according to the flashback which begins the film). From here on out, 28 Weeks Later is constructed very well. It explains how the "zombies" were taken out in the first movie. It sets up an American occupying force led by General Stone (Idris Elba), who is in charge of repopulating a small piece of London called "District One," what was formerly called the Isle of Dogs. London proper is still full of dead bodies and infected material, so District One's highest points are manned by snipers like Special Forces Sgt. Doyle (Jeremy Renner) and patrolled from the air by pilots like Doyle's pal Flynn (Harold Perrineau). Their job? To make sure nothing gets in or out, even though all are pretty sure that nothing is left alive in outside London, and that no sane person would want to take the chance of leaving the new District.
It reunites survivor Don with his beloved kidlets, kidlets Andy (Makintosh Muggleton) and Tammy (Imogen Poots). Before resettlement, all returnees are checked by a medical officer called Scarlet (Rose Byrne) who discovers that one of the kidlets has an anomaly in his/her blood (we're not telling) that apparently grants some kind of immunity to the virus. That "defect" makes said kidlet's blood the most valuable material in the world. Worth more than gold. So, a big happy tear filled reunion brings our pair of lovable kidlets together with their daddy. Daddy explains what happened to Mommy. Daddy also instructs the kidlets that they are never to return to their former residence in the Forbidden Zone to get their stuff.
All together now . . . Yeah. Right.
Kids being kids, they do get out. They do get home and, in a house totally different from the one seen in Scene One, they find their beloved mommy alive and well! Cranky isn't sure how Alice got from idyllic barricaded country house to urban London flat -- heck, this glitch didn't even occur to us until after the sugar rush wore off (heh heh) but it's a minor comment that doesn't get in the way of what's to come. All we care about is the confirmed fact that mom has the same kind of defect in her blood that makes her worth more than gold, too.
All that's left to occur is that big "ooo" moment when the Virus rears its ugly head and the kill fest starts again. It's a really good one that had our audience giggling with as much anticipation as revulsion. 'nuff said. From there on out, 28 Weeks Later returns to kill or be killed mode and the ride is a darn good one. Even the Ultimate ultimate ending had our crowd of lucky advance screeners going "ooo".
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 28 Weeks Later, he would have paid . . .
Buy lots of popcorn.
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