28 Days Later one of the best of its genre
I think a lot of people would agree with the claim that some of the most rewarding viewing experiences come about when you know or expect little out of the movie youíre about to see. If thereís no hype to live up to, itís easier to be pleasantly surprised.
Perhaps the most pronounced case of that, for me, came from my initial encounter with 28 Days Later. There are a couple of great zombie movies, but that angleís been pretty thoroughly explored and I didnít feel like I needed to see another one, especially one set in a not-too-distant, post-apocalyptic future. Frankly it sounded like kind of a drag.
And while 28 Days Later is a far cry from an uplifting and heartwarming tale, itís much, much better than I would have thought possible. Cillian Murphy is fantastic, the digital cinematography is stellar and the soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time. The whole world of the film is constructed in an engaging, entertaining way that confirmed any previous suspicions Iíd harbored about Danny Boyle being an extremely talented filmmaker.
But itís also a startlingly intelligent flick. After getting the important plot set-up out of the way Ė why Jim is seemingly alone in London and what events could lead to the spread of an a super virus that appears to have wiped out everyone in its path Ė the film gets to the running around scared stages before becoming downright fascinating in an intense and emotionally charged second half that takes place at a military compound.
Itís really hard to explain the subtext of a smart movie in a short column like this without coming across like a pretentious wanker. I could say that the film is just as much a critique about a hyper-aggressive military mindset Ė think Dr. Strangelove Ė as it is a survival thriller, but thatís an unsatisfactory explanation unless you can convey why, a pretty daunting task in a hundred words or so. Suffice it to say that the movie takes an unexpected turn about halfway through, when a handful of uninfected survivors find their way to the military grounds and the zombie-like, rage-induced madmen look almost benign in comparison to some of the army personnel.
I would explain more, but itís my opinion that at least 80% of film criticism is awful, largely due to the fact that, for some reason, critics feel the need to rehash the plot, which strikes me as an exceedingly stupid gesture. Isnít the point of movie reviews to offer an outside take on a given movie, not to substitute as the actual viewing experience? Nobodyís actually going to simply read a film review in place of seeing the movie itself, right? Iíve never understood that. Either you havenít seen the movie, in which case you want to grasp whether itís worth seeing but donít want the potential experience spoiled by knowing what will happen at every turn, or youíve already seen it and clearly donít need the plot rehashed back to you like an idiot. Is there a middle ground Iím missing here, or is this just further proof that Roger Ebert is kind of a turd?
Obviously I digress, but you can still pretty much get the gist of these two movies by skimming the articles on this page. The short of it is that, coming from a guy who doesnít really dig horror flicks all that much, 28 Days Later is not only my favorite in the genre but one that still gets thrown in the DVD player on a pretty regular basis. An impressive and engaging spectacle on a number of levels.
The Bottom Shelf is a SiDEKiCK feature where we review an old, classic or cult film Ė or pretty much anything else we feel like renting. The movie in question will usually have something to do with our theme, but weíre not making any guarantees.