New Movie: Elysium!

Yet another cool aspect of the recent Comic Con was the trailers for new movies previews that fans were treated to. One such movie was Neil Blomkamp’s (director of District 9) new film, entitled Elysium. According to IO9 magazine, the movie stars Matt Damon in the lead role and is scheduled for release in 2013.

Based on the video reel Blomkamp offered, the movie is still very much in development. Rough place holders had to stand in for many of the visual effects, which are as of yet incomplete. However, the fans were given a precis of the storyline, which is decidedly dystopian and cyberpunk in nature.

Set in 2159, the plot revolves around the eponymously named space station of Elysium, an apparently utopian retreat where the ultra-rich and beautiful live and have access to the most advanced medical technology. The rest of humanity lives planet-side, where overcrowding, disease and radiation have resulted from overpopulation and pollution. Enter into this Max (Matt Damon), a criminal who’s suffering from radiation sickness and must make it to Elysium’s medical facilities at all costs.

In time, Max’s mission becomes complicated as he comes into information which could shut down Elysium and usher in an age of equality for the human race, or at least a less polarized division of wealth. Additional concept art was also released, like an interior shot of the station featured below. Given the layout, Elysium appears to be based on an Island Three design, a circular space station and rotates to provide gravity. Echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey there. Good for Blomkamp, referencing a classic!

Additional cast members will include Jodie Foster, District 9‘s Sharlto Copley, and Alice Braga (of City of God, Predators, Repo Men and I Am Legend fame). Think I might catch this one!

The Post-Apocalypse in Sci-Fi (Part II)

This futuristic tale takes place in Neo-Tokyo, an ultra-modern city that was built on the ruins of the old after an incident touched off World War III. This is a major them in the movie Akira and manga it was adapted from. Throughout the entire story, there is a pervasive sense of shock and horror over the destruction of the old city, and a sense of dread that it might happen again very soon…

Enter into this story the characters of Kaneda and Tetsuo, two orphan boys who belong to a biker gang that is constantly engaged in battles with other gangs for control of the streets. Being children of the system after their parents died in the war, all they really have is each other and the other members of their biker gang. These surrogate families and their ongoing feuds provide a sense of community and an outlet for their pent-up energies, living in a world characterized by boredom and angst and haunted by a past filled with horror.

In addition, you have Colonel Shikishima, a man who witnessed WWIII and has dedicated himself to the rebuilding and ensuring that it never happens again. In addition to being a main character, he is representative of the generational gap in the story. As a stern, disciplined military man who was shaped by apocalyptic events, he is appalled by the sense 0f self-indulgence which he feels has set in with the younger generation.

And the apocalyptic nature of the story is something which is demonstrated over and over through intense scenes and nightmarish visions. In short, it’s an awesome take on the post-apocalyptic scenario, which could only come from firsthand experience.

Alas, Babylon:
This 1959 novel by Pat Frank is one of the first post-apocalyptic stories of the nuclear age and has remained a science fiction ever since. Taking place in small town in Central Florida, Fort Repose, the story opens with a veteran-turned-lawyer named Randy Bragg who gets a cryptic telegram from his brother who works for the Strategic Air Command. He informs his brother that he will be sending his wife and kids to stay with his Randy, and ends it with “Alas Babylon”, a biblical reference which his brother uses as a euphemism ford disaster.

In time, he learns that the bad news concerns a potential Soviet attack, which inevitably takes place after much escalation. After bringing his sister-in-law and her kids to their home, they are all awoken in the night to the sounds of Miami being bombed. They residents awake to witness a mushroom cloud forming over Tampa shortly thereafter, and the events which characterize the following 24 hours they come to name “The Day” – i.e. a one day war.

The story delves into the effects of “The Day”, which are felt differently by people in Fort Repose. Tourists are trapped in their hotels, convicts escape from jails and prisons, the local retirement homes are filled with panicked people, and just about everyone tries to withdraw their money from the local bank and buy up supplies. The only reliable means of news comes through short wave radio.

As chaos begin to set in, Randy begins to organize neighbors to provide housing, food, and water for themselves and organizes the community to defense itself against highwaymen. As an active Army Reserve officer, Randy learns that he has the legal right to exercise martial law, and an order comes in over the short wave from the acting Chief Executive (who is governing from a bunker in Colorado) for any surviving officers to form local militias.

In the end, military helicopters arrive to evacuate people, but are refused as the locals tell them that they want to stay in the new home they have built. They learn the war is over, that the USA prevailed, and that country is now being run from Denver. However, the victory came at a tremendous cost, Millions are dead, entire stretches of the country are irradiated and won’t be habitable for a thousand years, and the US is now a third-rate power that is dependent on third world countries for aid. Faced with this prospect, the people of Fort Repose settle in and decide to face the “thousand year” night that is coming.

This book not only introduced readers to the likely prospect of what would happen in the event of WWIII, it also presented a likely scenario of how that was going to happen. While it the Soviets were apparently planning an attack in the first place, it was an accident that touched everything off. And in the end, how people went about rebuilding and trying to restore some semblance of normalcy was quite classic. In addition to inspiring numerous generations of nuclear holocaust fiction, numerous apocalyptic franchises owe an allegiance to him, not the least of which is the re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica.

The City of Ember:
This post-apocalyptic story, written by Jeanne DuPrau in 2003, takes place in an underground city named Ember. After many years of continuous habitation, the city is slowly running out of power and supplies. Similar to in tone and structure to Suzanne Martel’s 1963 story The City Under Ground, this city was apparently built to ensure that humanity had a place to live and wait out the effects of nuclear war.

The story begins when a two protagonists, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, receive a message which is apparently left by “the Builders” containing clues that could lead them back to the outside world. This message was kept in a box that was passed down from mayor to mayor, with instructions that it be opened after two hundred years. Until recently, the box had been lost, but as soon as Mayfleet and Harrow find it, the race is on to decipher it and find a way to the surface.

In the end, the children follow the note’s instructions through a series of caves that lead them towards the surface. When they see the city from above, they realize that they are underground, something which they never knew before. This scene, which calls to mind Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, provides the story’s big revelation. The story then ends on a cliffhanger note with the girls trying to alert the other inhabitants of what they’ve found.

The Matrix:
The setting and back story of the Matrix revolve around two fundamental facts: One, that a terrible war between humanity and AI’s took place in the future; and two, that what is left of humanity lives underground due to the devastation wrought on the planet’s surface. Enter into this the concept of the Matrix, a simulated reality where humans are kept docile by being fed the lie that they live in the pre-millenial world, at a time when human’s were still in charge.

But of course, not all human beings are able to accept the program and experience a sort of existential crisis as a result. When Mr. Anderson, hacker alias Neo, is presented with the answers he so desperately seeks, he is horrified to learn the terrible truth. Not only was it the year significantly later than he thought, but the world as he knows it was destroyed long ago. All major cities reduced to rubble, the sky itself has been “scorched”, and the surface rendered a cold, uninhabitable shadow of its former self.

This is a crucial element of the Matrix, which is not just a sci-fi story set in a post-apocalyptic world, but a metaphor for truth and “false consciousness”. With reality so displeasing and harsh, there are many who would prefer the warm comfort of a simulated world, which just happens to be a recreation of happier, stabler times. The metaphor is not just thick, but multi-layered!

It is for this reason that the majority of human beings accept the programming of the Matrix, even if they are only aware of this acceptance on an unconscious level. It is also the reason why those who choose to opt out of it, due to an innate feeling that their reality isn’t real, is a choice which must be made many times over. As Cypher himself demonstrated in the first movie, not everyone has the stomach for the real world, and will willingly betray their comrades for a chance to be put back inside. Others however, find hope in the prophecy of “The One”, the person who’s arrival will herald the end of the war and peace for humanity at last… or so it seems!

The Omega Man:
Released in 1971 and starring (once again) Charlton Heston, this movie post-apocalyptic film is a classic amongst film buffs. Based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend, this story has gone through many adaptations over the years and has been spoofed and imitated endlessly. Though the plot was updated for the most recent version (2007, starring Wil Smith), much of the elements – a post-apocalyptic world, a lone human survivor, fighting against mutants – have remained the same.

Essentially, the plot takes place in a world that has been devastated after a terrible plague was unleashed and wreaked havoc on the world. In the film versions, this involved biological warfare between the Soviet Union and China – or a mutated cure for cancer – but was only hinted at in the book. In any case, the story revolves around a man named Robert Neville, a doctor who seems to be the last man on Earth, hence the term “Omega Man”.

Though technically not the last living creature, Neville appears to be the last human being who has not succumbed to the most dreaded aspect of the plague – transformation into a flesh-eating mutant. Whereas most of humanity died after exposure, a small minority was converted, leaving an even smaller minority of infected to be hunted as prey. Living in a fortified apartment with an arsenal, Neville spends his days patrolling the abandoned city and killing members of “The Family” – the albino mutants who are hunting him.

At the same time, Neville is dedicated to finding other survivors who have not turned. Eventually, he is saved by one such group of people, but discovers that they are not immune as he is. He decides to treat others using his own blood as a serum, while at the same time escaping to the wilderness to start a new life while leaving the mutants to die in the city. Ultimately, Neville is forced to sacrifice himself to stop the Family from overtaking the rest of them, but the survivors make it out, carrying with them a vial of his blood.

Though significantly different from the original novel, all versions of the story deal with a world in which all of humanity has been wiped out by a biological agent, not nuclear war or a natural disaster.

The Road:
This 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy, which was adapted into a 2009 movie of the same name, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a father and son wander the landscape together. Though it is not specified what caused the destruction they are forced to witness and endure, what is clear is the effect it had on the survivors. Most people have given up hope in the ashen landscape, while others struggle to stay alive and some even turn to cannibalism to survive.

The plot involves an unnamed father and son who are venturing south towards the coast because they have realized that they will not survive the winter where they lived. Though the father is dying and they have barely any possessions to speak of, and the land in between is filled with horrors, the two keep going, fending off roving bands of cannibals and raiders and maintaining hope that the coast will be their deliverance.

All along, is father assures his son that they are the “good guys” who are “carrying the fire” through a dark terrible land. In the end, they find no refuge when they reach the sea and are forced to venture back inland, but the father finally succumbs to his illness and dies. He tells his son to maintain hope and to speak to him in his mind after he is gone, and the boy holds a vigil for days over his father’s body when he finally passes on.

With no idea what to do or where to go, he is eventually found by another family who claim to have been tracking them. The father of the group assures him he is one of the “good guys” and asks the son to join them. With no other options available to him, he agrees to join them and they set off together to find a new home.

Inspired by McCarthy’s own relationship with his son, and a great deal of speculation about what the apocalypse would look like, this story is a very personal take on the end civilization and the struggle to survive. Whereas a great deal of the survivors have resorted to unspeakable acts in order to stay alive, McCarthy redeems humanity by showing the lengths to which regular people will go to protect their families and ensure that good people live on when all the world goes to hell.

The Scarlet Plague:
Here we have a post-apocalyptic classic that predates the nuclear age. Written by Jack London and published in 1912, this story was the original “last man on Earth” scenario which inspired such works as I Am Legend and many others. In addition to being based on the idea of a plague wiping out nearly all of humanity, the stories resolution involves the main character imparting his knowledge to others to ensure that something survives when he is gone.

The story is set in San Francisco in the year 2073, sixty-years after a terrible epidemic, known as the Red Death,has depopulated the planet. Enter into this the story’s protagonist, a man named James Howard Smith, a survivors from the pre-plague era. As an aging man living in the San Francisco area, he is faced with the unpleasant question of what will happen when he dies. As one of the few people who is old enough to remember the pre-plague days, he possesses rare knowledge which will be lost.

Through Howard’s narrative, we learn how the plague spread throughout the world and of the struggles of the handful of survivors it left in its wake. This is apparently being told to his grandchildren, who he has decided to teach everything he knows to ensure that his knowledge will not be lost.

Much like the novels it helped inspire, the Scarlet Plague’s real value lies in its personal nature, relating how the struggle to survive goes beyond the mere physical. In the end, it is when people are facing death that what is most important in life is realized and affirmed. Or to put it is as Commander Adama did, “It’s not enough to survive. One must be worthy of survival.” Sorry! My mind keeps going back to BSG with all this post-apocalyptic talk. More on that one later…

The Terminator:
Central to the story of the Terminator franchise is “Judgement Day”, the day when humanity was nearly destroyed in a nuclear holocaust that was triggered by the sentient machine known as “Skynet”. This serves as the backdrop to the story, along with the ensuing war between the human resistance and the machines its spawned.

Though the majority of the story takes place in modern-day Los Angeles, a great deal of attention is dedicated to the war in the future and what life is like for those who survived Judgement Day. Kyle Reese described his life in the following way: “There was a nuclear war… There were survivors. Here, there. Nobody even knew who started it. It was the machines… I grew up after. In the ruins… starving… hiding from [Hunter-Killers]. Patrol machines built in automated factories. Most of us were rounded up, put in camps for orderly disposal. ”

Eventually, these camps were liberated by John Conner, the leader of the Resistance. After training and equipping the survivors, effectively turning them into a fighting force, Conner led them in a protracted war against the machines. For the most part, the resistance lived and operated out of underground facilities and went out at night to fight HK’s and Terminator’s, guerrilla-style. Survivors and refugees were gathered in these facilities, and their defenders were forced to constantly be on guard against infiltrators. Eventually, John Conner organized all his fighters into a massive offensive force and led them against the Skynet’s central HQ, destroying it and winning the war for humanity.

It was for this exact reason that the machines built their time machine and began sending Terminators back into the past. Since they could not defeat Resistance in the present, they reasoned that eliminating their commander before he was even born was their only recourse. This provides the set up for the entire franchise, with both the machines and the Resistance sending people back in time; the former to kill him and the latter to protect him and ensure that the war could be prevented.

The Walking Dead:
Fans of this franchise will know instantly why I’ve chosen to include it on this list. Not only is it a gritty, realistic take on the zombie apocalypse, but it also manages to capture the essence of survival and the struggle to stay human when everything around you has fallen. Part of what makes this show so bang on is the fact that the character’s personal struggles go well beyond the need to stay alive.

In addition to finding food, ammo, and a place to set down, there’s also the constant battle to keep hope alive. This takes them at first to the CDC, where the expect to find answers, a cure, and some protection. But of course, all they find is a single scientist who can explain how the zombie illness works, but has no idea how to cure it.

And of course, the familiar and realistic themes of loss, suicide, procreation, betrayal, and brutalization play a central role to the development of the story. Everyone who has survived the zombie apocalypse has lost people near and dear to their heart. As a result, many people have a hard time going on, some of whom commit or actively contemplate suicide. Rick and Sarah, the show’s main protagonists, also face a tough choice when they realize she is pregnant. Essentially, they’re not sure it would a good idea to bring a baby into this post-apocalyptic world. Much like the decision to carry on, it often seems that embracing death would be a far more merciful decision.

Amongst the other main characters, there is also the extremely difficult choice between survival at all costs and maintaining one’s humanity. Whereas Shane seems to favor survival, and becomes a hardened, amoral man who will kill anyone who gets in his way, the elderly Dale is committed to not being pulled down into a world of misery and letting it change him. With everyone else, the decision is the same, with people falling to one side or the other and divisions setting in.

28 Days Later…

Hello all! In honor of Halloween, I thought I’d jump ahead on my review list again and cover a zombie flick! And not just any zombie flick, a good, scary and even poignant thriller known as 28 Days Later! Not only is this movie a cult favorite, its also a films that got in on the ground floor of this new zombie craze.

Yes, for some reason, zombie movies have been pretty popular in the new millennium. Maybe it’s a retro thing, but it seems that within the last ten years, there have been a plethora of writers/directors who have breathed new life into this old movie genre. After 28 Days was released in 2002, it was followed by the Resident Evil movie, House of the Dead in 2003 (another video game adaptation), the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004), Shaun of the Dead, Doom (2005), Slither (2006), The Zombie Diaries, I Am Omega (2007), I Am Legend, Day of the Dead (2008, another remake), followed by Quarantine, Zombieland in 2009, and the list goes on. In fact, I’m not even taking the time to mention all the sequels and lesser known titles that came between these ones!

The point is, whereas in previous decades, people could expect a low-budget zombie movie at least once a year, since 2000, there have been multiple entries every year, sometimes as many as a dozen! And with this explosion in titles, there’s been some variety to how zombies were presented as well. Whereas in the old zombie classics, zombies were slow witted and slow moving – literally the walking dead – in new movies and re-imaginings, zombies were fast moving and sometimes highly intelligent. In fact, there’s even a neat table over at Yahoo movies that places zombie films within the context of these two criteria:

How Dangerous Is A Zombie?

If one were to use that table to discuss this movie, the zombies would be placed on the high end of both speed and intelligence, making them VERY dangerous. And, as I will mention soon enough, their take on the creatures was also quite realistic, at least when compared to other franchises. Okay, get comfortable and be ready to get scared, its horror movie time!

Compared to most horror films, 28 Days had a relatively fair budget of about 5 million pounds or 7 million US$ (based on the 2002 rate of exchange). It’s overall gross, however, was over 82.7 million dollars, and it even spawned a graphic novel and a sequel (haven’t seen or read them yet, but working on it ;)). In addition, the movie was the result of collaboration between writer Alex Garland and esteemed British director Daniel Boyle, whose film credits include Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Sunshine,Slumdog Millionaire and The Beach (which Garland also wrote).

The film was also well received by audiences and critics, earning itself several awards for direction, cinematography and acting in both Europe and the US in the process. It was even placed on two top 100 and one top 20 list as one of the best horror movies of all time. In addition to its direction and acting, critics praised it for its story, allegory and humanistic elements. In short, the movie went in with a modest budget and limited fanfare, but came out a cult hit and a commercial success. Little wonder why its seen as one of the best movies of the genre, people love underdogs as much as they do hidden gems!

28 Days Later essentially begins with an act of activism, where some well-meaning animal rights people storm into an animal testing facility and try to free some chimpanzees who are undergoing weird tests. In the course of the break-in, one of the doctors tries to stop them, saying that the chimps are infected with “rage”. This opening kind of seemed hokey to me at first, but afterward I came to see how effective it was. We get a brief prologue that tells us how things began, but which doesn’t weight us down with long-winded or unlikely explanations.

This is always a challenge in zombie movies, explaining how and why the dead are up and walking. In this case, they chose to go with a virus that was like super-rabies, making the infected extremely violent and spreading through the exchange of bodily fluids. Kind of brilliant if you think about it, explains all the zombie-like behavior while still being somewhat plausible. Of course, they are basically saying that animal rights activists will be responsible for the apocalypse, but who cares? It’s fiction!

We then cut to a hospital where the main character – a bike courier named Jim (Cillian Murphy*) – wakes up from a coma and realizes he’s all alone (for some reason, we get a full-frontal shot of his junk here too!) He then gets up and begins to look for answers and food, finding only abandoned buildings and empty streets. After making his way out into central London, he quickly realizes something terrible must have happened. All the missing signs and news pinups about the “End of Days” seem to attest to that. Naturally, he travels to a church where he finds pews filled with corpses, and one survivor, who for some reason seems to want to bite him…

*People may remember Murphy as The Scare Crow in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

But of course, he is narrowly saved by two healthy people – a woman named Selena (Naomi Harris) and her friend – who explain to him what’s been going on. Here too, the exposition was kept mercifully brief, the two basically telling him that a virus has devastated the country and that its spread through blood, bites, etc. He agrees to team up with them, but only if they can swing by his house, as he needs to know if his parents are still alive. Naturally, they are not, and infected people soon attack them. Selena’s friend is bitten in the process, and she is forced to kill him. Jim is upset by this, but Selena explains that this is how it is now. Needless sentiment lead to hesitation, which in turn leads to death. Now Selena and Jim are alone to wander the streets looking for other survivors.

Their search brings them to an apartment building where a father and daughter are holed up, and using Christmas lights to attract other survivors. A desperate chase follows as they are forced to run up the stairs as the infected chase them. But eventually they get to the landing where the father, Frank (Brendon Gleeson), is waiting for them in full riot gear! After beating down the infected, he lets them in and they meet his daughter, Hanna (Megan Burns), and begin swapping plans. It seems Frank has a radio and from their high elevation, they’ve been able to picking up a military radio transmission coming from Manchester that tells of a cure, food and shelter. The four of them make plans to go there straightaway.

Getting there is an adventure to be sure, the four having to flee from infected as they get out of the city and there being a few pacing scenes along the way. But eventually, they arrive to find the town of Manchester on fire, and that the transmission is coming from a military base nearby. However, the base appears to be deserted, the only inhabitants being infected crows and bodies. What follows is a heart wrenching scene where Frank gets a drop of blood in his eye and begins to change. He has just enough time to tell his daughter that he loves her before they realize he’s been infected and he goes bat-shit crazy! That’s when the army men reveal themselves and open fire on Frank!

They are then taken to the base’s main compound where the CO, Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston), welcomes them. Jim and Selena are cautiously optimistic now that they have some protection and a roof over their head, but Hannah is understandably bitter. Her father is dead, after all, and these men were responsible. In the course of the next few days, the Major shows Jim their set up and explains what they’re doing. Seems they’ve been luring the infected to the compound and then killing them with bullets and landmines. They’ve also been keeping a live one for study so they can see how long they survive without the ability to feed. This one they call Mailer, since he was once one of them…

However, things go awry when a few things become clear. For one, the boys seem to like Selena, and are quite pushy on that fact. When Jim tries to intervene to keep them off her, the Major explains that his mens’ sanity has been hanging by a thread and he’s had to make promises to keep their morale from collapsing and them from offing themselves. In short, he promised them women… Suddenly, the signal, the one that lured them in with promises of safety, food and a cure makes perfect sense. The Major and his men, who think the world has gone to hell, are looking to create their own little society here, and need breeding stock! Jim resists, as does one of the soldiers, and the Major orders that they be shot.

While Selena and Hannah are forced to don dresses and prepare for an evening of rape, Jim manages to give the soldiers the slip and runs off. Before the other soldier is shot, he gives Jim some words of encouragement. The Major and the others insist the world is dying, he says, but he’s seen planes going overhead and thinks that’s a pretty strong indication that the carnage must be reserved to Britain. Jim takes some hope from this too, and begins to hatch a plan. He returns to the abandoned outpost where they first met the Major’s men and sets off the siren. This lures the Major and some of his troops, as they know that the siren will draw unwanted attention. When they show up, Jim manages to kill some of them, with the help of some infected, of course.

Back at the base, Selena sets Hanna free and is cornered by one of the soldiers who is about to rape her. However, Jim has returned to the base at this point and unleashes Mailer on them. While he creates all kinds of carnage, Jim manages to break in and kill the soldier who was going to rape Selena with his bare hands. Selena thinks he’s been infected too and is prepared to kill him, but hesitates just long enough to realize he’s clean. We quickly realize that she’s in love with Jim now, as she showed no hesitation when killing her old companion. The two kiss and reunite with Hannah, and all three commandeer a vehicle outside and prepare to drive off.

However, Major West is waiting for them and shoots Jim in the stomach. But Mailer shows up in time to grab West before he can shoot anyone else, and Hannah drives while Selena tends to Jim’s wound. The three then drive to a hospital where Selena tends to his wounds in a frantic montage of quick cut-scenes. Then, after being in a coma for another 28 days, Jim wakes up and finds that he’s recovering in bed, this time in some remote cottage. The three of them are now in the countryside where Hannah and Selena have prepared a massive cloth banner that spells out HELLO. Jim is now awake just in time to help them deploy it and to see a Finnish fighter jet fly overhead. The movie ends with Selena asking sarcastically, “Do you think he saw us this time?”

Apparently, Boyle and Garland also came up with a number of alternate endings as well, two of which were filmed and a third which never made it past storyboard. In the first, which was meant to be the original ending, Jim dies in the hospital, leaving Selena and Hannah to carry on. However, this ending was rejected after some test screening audiences said it was “too bleak”. Though the scene was meant to convey that the two ladies survived, audiences believed they were marching off to certain death. The second alternate ending included the rescue banner at the very end, but without Jim being present, so as to show that the ladies made it without him.

A third, which never made it past storyboard, was a radical departure. In this one, Jim, Selena, Hannah and Frank converge on a medical facility rather than a military base, the same one where the infected apes escaped from at the beginning. Frank is still infected, but it turns out that there is a cure available here. Unfortunately, the doctor at the base informs them that the cure consists of a full blood transfusion, and only Jim is a blood match. He therefore sacrifices himself to save Frank, and the movie ends. This ending was rejected by Boyle and Garland though, since they realized it was unrealistic. In essence, if an infection can spread through even a drop of blood, no amount of transfusing would work!

While they didn’t go with the ending they wanted, the movie still conveyed the same message all around. In it, we are given a pretty realistic take on zombies, one which ties in with the dangers of epidemics and how modern, industrial societies are vulnerable to infectious diseases. In addition, we get a story that’s chock full of allegory about the human condition. Whereas some people survive by becoming selfish and doing whatever they have to to go on – in Selena’s case, cutting all ties, in the Major’s case, promising his men women – ultimately, people are redeemed through acts of self-sacrifice and empathy.

Frank shows this through his abundant sense of generosity and how he’ll do anything to make sure his daughter survives. Selena demonstrates this by saving Jim and Hannah, allowing herself to care for them even though she’s presumably become hardened and only cares about staying alive. And of course, Jim demonstrates this by putting himself in danger to save Selena and Hannah, even though it nearly costs him his life. And of course, the three make it in the end only by mutual dependency and love. There’s even the bit about the rogue soldier who would rather die than give in to hopelessness and take part in a gang rape.

And that’s the movie. Simple, scary, effective and entertaining! It’s rare that a movie will come along that can cover all these bases, but this one managed to do it quite well. Its also a reminder that within the realm of low-budget cinema, there are some genuine gems waiting to be found. Hell, one could even make the case that low budgets are essential to the success of some movies. It ensures that there aren’t any over-the-top special effects to make it look fake, or a sense of mass appeal to water down the plot. And it just goes to show you what can happen when good acting, writing and direction come together!

28 Days Later
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Plot: 9/10
Direction: 9/10
Total: 9/10