28 Weeks Later Blu-ray Review
Picture28 Weeks later is quite a mixed bag on its Blu-ray debut. Sure, we get a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, but since the movie was shot with using various film stocks and techniques, the end result can vary from shiny, pristine and top notch to gritty, grainy and documentary-like. Close-ups offer some truly excellent detail, as do some of the longer distance aerial shots of London, but cut to the action scenes and it's all hand-held, frenetic camera-work (even with the helicopter shots taken of the early attack) and raw horror. And that's why this video rendition is just about perfect - when the picture needs to look glossy and clean, it does, a prime example of the best Blu-ray has to offer, and when things get messy, you know that it is exactly what the filmmakers intended in order to capture the brutality of the situation. I'm sure there were a few moments when the grain felt unnecessary, a few situations where the filming technique did not quite seem as intentional and the movie looked more like a good quality British TV show like Spooks, but for the most part it is spot on. The colour scheme does the best it can with the British setting, obviously limited by the weather, and whilst it all looks realistic - again it looks British TV show realistic, i.e. often clouded-over skies. Blacks are solid for the most part, but as has been detailed above, can get a bit grainy depending on how the scene was shot, although for the final act I found the shadowing and night-sequences to be outstanding. The presentation varies from offering the kind of quality that only the best of Blu-ray releases can boast about, to having such a dirty, grainy, soft look that you'll wonder whether you've dropped back a generation or two in quality, but few will argue that this was not the designed cinematography for the release.
SoundTo accompany this recently made release, 28 Weeks later comes complete with DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio track, i.e. the best of the best with honours. Unfortunately few - if any - will have the kind of equipment that can fully utilise this track. Still, it's the best presentation for this release, and that should count for something - at least they gave us that. Dialogue is keenly presented across the frontal array, predominantly coming for the fronts and centre channels, but for the screams of the victims and the shrieks of the infected hordes, which get you from all angles. The effects range from oppressive Code Red sirens to the jumpy scary moments where silence is crashed by a sudden noise. Gunshots, planes, helicopter and boats, we have plenty of bigger noises in this bigger budget sequel, and overall they give the surrounds plenty to do. I was probably most impressed by the score, which is perfect at emotionally capturing the sentiment of the movie - in the same way that the both its predecessor did, and recent excellent British movies like Sunshine did. And it gets fantastic presentation here, really intensifying the dramatic action and pursuit sequences. Obviously this movie isn't the same kind of bombastic affair as, say, Transformers (although the ending here is pretty explosive), it's a pretty damn good aural rendition of the material that is on offer.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length Audio Commentary by the Director/Co-Writer Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and the Co-Producer/Co-Writer Enrique Lopez-Lavigne, who offer insight into the story, the military critiques, the development of the rage virus from the first instalment, the budgetary constraints - despite the bigger budget than the first affair, and the cast performances. It is a little patchy, with a few too many pregnant pauses where it feels like they are just watching the movie, and a few more anecdotes would not have done any harm, but for the most part you get interesting dialogue, with some nice titbits dotted throughout that fans will lap up.
There are 2 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and Enrique Lopez-Lavigne: The Canteen and Andy's Dream, the first of which adds minutely to the depth and interaction of the characters and the second extending the ending a little bit. Both are quite nice, and would have been better off left in the movie than cut out of it (especially since the extra 5 minutes would not have affected the runtime that significantly) but there are no real hidden gems here.
Code Red: Making 28 Weeks Later takes a thirteen minute look at the production, taking far too much time explaining - in detail - the plot, which you surely would have already gotten from watching the movie itself! On the plus side there are some nice offerings from star Robert Carlyle and creator Danny Boyle, a few interesting behind the scenes segments and some frank discussions on the budgetary constrictions on filming a British action-horror like this in London.
The Infected is a seven-minute long Featurette discussing the pseudo-zombie horde depicted in the movie, and the body/dance actors that bring them to life. This is actually quite an interesting offering, with commentary on how they wanted the infected creatures to be like rabid dogs, how scary they looked on set and the sheer volume of blood used. Again many of the key cast and crew members are on hand to offer their comments and this is not a bad Featurette, far more rewarding than the largely wasted Making-of.
The Featurette Getting Into the Action is seven minutes long and looks more at the way they got straight into the action with this instalment, after the first movie set things up. With plenty of discussion on the stunts, the scale, the bullets and the infected attacks, the most revealing aspects of this offering are the talks about how Danny Boyle directed some of the best sequences from the movie as 2nd Unit Director (e.g. the opening chase). It's very telling that his work on the movie often highlights the best bits, and it makes you wonder what it would have been like had he been hands-on throughout the production.
28 Days Later: The Aftermath: Stage 1 “Development” and 28 Days Later: The Aftermath: Stage 3 “Decimation” are both taken directly from the 28 Days Later: The Aftermath graphic novel that was published to add more to the set-up for the first movie (Stage 1 acting as a prequel to the first movie), and explain things better for the second movie (Stage 3 is a slightly unrelated sequel, effectively 29 Days Later). Here the pictures are given as still images, with the speech bubbles narrated and often typed out onto the screen, but this is probably the best video depiction I have ever seen for a direct graphic novel port. Aside from some silly voices chosen, the instalments here are definitely worth checking out and will add to your enjoyment of the main feature (and the previous film). I'd probably still recommend the book over this but for those who want an easier ride, it is not a bad option. These extras probably mark the biggest highlight of the discs. Finally we get Theatrical Trailers for both this sequel and the original 28 Days Later.
Verdict28 Days Later this may not be, but with enough touches of glory instilled by the participation of the original's director Danny Boyle, and some interesting concepts (albeit not fully realised) this sequel is a broader, bleaker affair which makes for a thoroughly enjoyable watch. That is, if you like being terrified. On Blu-ray the release excels, with superior video and audio and a nice selection of extras that are sure to please fans. If you loved the original, you'll certainly like this instalment, and it comes recommended. Newcomers should probably see 'Days before 'Weeks, but a rental of this one first would not do too much damage.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.