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February 18, 2008
28 Weeks Later Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
10/5/20075/2/2008FoxJuan Carlos Fresnadillo
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Robert Carlyle

THE MOVIE
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Something's not quite right there!
A couple of years ago a low budget horror movie called 28 Days Later was released, and it was a instant hit worldwide with a box office take of over $US80 million. It may not sound like a lot compared to some blockbusters, however with a budget of only $US8 million it was a monster hit for the financiers. There was little surprise then to discover that a sequel was in the works and with a bigger budget there were high expectations. Commercially it may not have delivered the same returns, but critically this movie was praised. So what did we think of 28 Weeks Later? Read on...

Eradication. Re-population. Re-infection. 28 Weeks Later is the sequel to Danny Boyle’s 2002 movie 28 Days Later that followed a handful of survivors after a devastating virus has infected most of the British population, sending its victims into a murderous rage. Now, six months after the rage virus has annihilated the British Isles, the US Army declares that the war against infection has been won, and that the reconstruction of the country can begin. Under the strict supervision of the US Military, the first wave of refugees is allowed back into the city. Among them are Don (Robert Carlyle), his new girlfriend, Scarlett (Rose Byrne), and Don’s two children. Don lost his wife during the original infection, while Scarlett lost her entire family.

All seems under control until a new carrier of the virus makes his way within the quarantined area. As the only known live specimen, he becomes a vital tool to the scientists who hope to learn from their discovery. Call it carelessness or call it bad luck, but the virus eventually spreads once again and now may be even more difficult to contain than the first time around...

While it will help if you have seen 28 Days Later, it's not a requirement for this sequel. The characters are entirely new and it's not hard to imagine what preceded the events here. This movie includes a great 10 minute "prologue" of sorts which shows what it was like at the height of the original outbreak. As a sequel this is quite an impressive film which stands up to the quality of the first movie with quite a few frights and thrills. Indeed some scenes really do stand out from the superb opening scene which fills in the events that took place 28 weeks earlier, a helicopter scene flying over hundreds of zombies in the fields below, and the orders issued to soldiers when the outbreak first gets out. Indeed this movie makes the viewer think about what really would happen in such circumstances. It's a scary thought.

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Dancing outside the High School.
Acting is pretty impressive across the board, but in particular it's Robert Carlyle (Eragon) as the lead character Don that holds this movie together as he travels through the highs and lows of the events. Support characters including Rose Byrne (Sunshine), Catherine McCormack (Spy Game), and Jeremy Renner (SWAT). Two people that deserve considerable praise are Mackintosh Muggleton as Andy, the young boy trapped in this nightmare world, as well as Imogen Poots who plays his sister Tammy. Both are superb actors with big futures and 28 Weeks Later should open quite a few doors for future acting careers.

If you liked 28 Days Later then this sequel will certainly impress you. It links in with the original story, but you don't have to have seen that movie due to the nice little intro before the credits in this sequel. The action is relentless, the acting pretty solid, and the storyline intense.

VIDEO
Encoded in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 using the AVC codec the bitrate really is quite exceptional with the movie averaging 30-40Mbps for the most part, but at times it even topped out at 50Mbps. There is little doubt that this transfer is about as uncompressed as we could possibly expect on the Blu-Ray format. Colours are good as is the fine detail.

Having said that though the overall video quality of this Blu-Ray release isn't quite the pristine presentation we were hoping for. We can't however blame the Blu-Ray format or the encoding, with the majority of the issues stemming from the original theatrical print. The film was shot on a mixture of Super 16, Super 35 and even HD Video, which gives the picture an inconsistent look throughout. There is a tonne of film grain in some of the scenes, particularly darker ones, while any special effects shots shot in Super 35 show a marked sharpness and reduction in grain which almost takes you out of the experience. Still, can you fault a solid transfer due to a poor original source material? We say no.

AUDIO
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Time to hunt down some zombies.
While we have one or two very minor issues with the video quality the same can't be said of the audio which, bar the odd line here or there, is nigh on perfect. Indeed the audio has been encoded in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and it offers a decent reproduction of the theatrical experience. I was surprise though to discover that such a modern movie was still quite restrained in the use of surround sound channels and bass. Perhaps that was a sign of the budget overall. There were also a couple of lines here and there which I struggled ot understand, but it's never terrible.

As well as the main audio track the disc includes English Descriptive Audio at 384kbps, and German and Spanish DTS tracks at 768kbps. After sampling each track for a few moments I am sure you won't be disappointed. Subtitles are provided in 9 different languages including English for the Hearing Impaired. If there is one complaint to be made, and this really is a complaint I could level at many discs, it's that there isn't just an English subtitle which covers the words, without descriptions of other sounds. I have friends who want the subtitles for speech (as they can read English better then listen to it), but don't need the descriptions of other noises and effects.

EXTRAS
To be honest I didn't really expect too much from this disc in terms of extras. With a worldwide box office of only $US64 million (which is well below the originals $US82 million) it would have been easy for Fox to relegate 28 Weeks Later to the clearance bin quickly and spend little time with the additional content. Indeed the extras list is a little thin however there are a couple of features here worth checking out including some great animated comics, and a decent commentary.

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London has been deserted, and destroyed.
Commentary with Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Producer Enrique López Lavigne: To be honest this commentary was quite a hard slog. While there is some interesting information provided there are also some moments of silence, and they do have accents which makes listening to them for 100-odd minutes quite tough. Still if you want to know about some of the thoughts behind the themes in the movie, and the creative process it is worth a listen.

Code Red: Making of 28 Weeks Later (13:06/HD): While it comes across as an EPK, this actually has a couple of interesting interviews, and details about the production of the movie.

The Infected (6:57/HD): A short featurette about the Infected people in the movie, and what it was like having them walking around on set and the amount of training that went into their roles for the movie.

Getting Into The Action (7:13/HD): Another short featurette which looks at the action sequences in the movie. More EPK then actual documentary but there are a couple of nice behind the scenes sequences, and interviews.

28 Days Later: The Aftermath: Stage 1 'Development' and 28 Days Later: The Aftermath: Stage 3 'Decimation' (12:20): These two features are interesting additions in that they are essentially animated, and voiced, graphic novels which tell the story. Interesting, a little psychotic, but perfectly suited to this release. Both are encoded in MPEG-2 in Standard Definition with 192kbps Stereo Sound.

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Time to start running from that glow!
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (5:14): Two deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary presented in Standard Definition. One scene is conversation over lunch in a canteen prior to all hell breaking loose while the second is essentially an alternate ending which is certainly inferior to the actual ending in the movie.

28 Weeks Later Theatrical Trailer (2:14/HD): The theatrical trailer for 28 Weeks Later which is presented in HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 448kbps.

Theatrical Trailers (HD): Trailers for 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Pathfinder and Die Hard 4.0 all presented ion HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

OVERALL
28 Weeks Later is a great sequel to one of the best horror/zombie movies in recent years. The main disappointment is that the film is extremely grainy due to the filming process on Super 16. Still it does give the film an immediate and intimate quality. The transfer on Blu-Ray is as impressive as one would expect and the extras solid. If you like the original and haven't checked this movie out yet we suggest you do so. If you liked this at the cinemas you should definitely pick this disc up. It's in stores now.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
7/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.