'28 Weeks Later' better than usual apocalyptic fare

"28 Weeks Later," like its precursor, "28 Days Later," revels in that end times genre that endlessly fascinates not only screenwriters and filmmakers but audiences in general.

Major religions do more than dwell on the last days of man on earth; instead, many are filled with an eager, anticipatory excitement at the prospect of a fiery, final judgment.

Apocalyptic films and literature are a variation on the end times theme, involving a highly imagined "what if" scenario, premised on a cataclysm that alters the landscape forever. The permutations are endless. Truth be told, there is something very creepy and ominously compelling about seeing urban streets absent people, the buildings and houses standing empty, the windows closed and blinking back in the gray light. What happened? What could possibly have gone wrong? And how do those who are left behind survive when the thin patina of order and law has been peeled away and a Darwinian reality takes hold?

In "28 Weeks Later," seven months have passed since a virus of unknown origin has swept Britain causing what is known as "the rage" which turns people instantly into raging, lethal killers. There is no antidote. The only option is to kill those infected. Think of it as the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 on steroids.

Of course this film is gross. The infected, as they're called, kill and are killed in blatantly terrible, bloody ways. De rigueur for such films. The audience knows that going in; in fact, these horror aficionados would be hugely disappointed if it wasn't gory.

The niche audience that relishes these films will not be disappointed with "28 Weeks Later." It's an intense, surprisingly well-shot film, the look of it grainy and dark, and the action sequences are intense without gratuitously lingering on any one scene of horror. That sounds like a contradiction: lots of gore yet it's not gratuitous. But Juan Carlos Fresnadillo does a remarkable job creating a tension that is unrelenting and there are moments when the cinematography is superb, keeping in mind the subject matter.

At one point, perhaps close to half way into the film, a man got up and left and didn't return. Hard to know what he thought "28 Days Later" was going to be about. Romance on a cruise ship? Films like this, because of the ever more sophisticated use of CGI, have taken the idea of apocalypse to a whole new level and this film is, actually, an excellent example.

Georgia Rule

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the movie theater, Hollywood breaks the surface with "Georgia Rule," a truly terrible movie. Barely coherent. The trailer (in tandem with Jane Fonda's multiple appearances on talk shows) promises a Disneyesque, comedic, lighthearted, multigenerational film wherein a snotty teenager is shaped up by her hard-nosed grandmother, who is wise, loving, yet takes no guff from the California brat. Wrong.

First, Lindsay Lohan, early twenties going on forty, simply can't pull off portraying a 17-year-old. Those days are long gone for this young woman who in "Georgia Rule" is slathered in makeup, and dressed like a hooker in every scene. Her character, Rachel, is foul-mouthed, deceitful, and intolerable. Of course there will be a long, protracted scene of redemption at the end; however, getting there is painful and downright tedious.

The film also takes a dark, and unexpected turn when Rachel declares that she has been sexually abused by her stepfather, a rich and powerful criminal attorney practicing in San Francisco. Rachel is damaged and is going to do as much damage to others as possible without a moment's hesitation or reflection. So much for lighthearted.

Fonda, portraying the grandmother, Georgia, is, like Lohan, so weighted down with makeup and designer blouses that she seems cartoonish &

keep in mind that the film is set in Hull, Idaho, a small, rural town where women don't spend three hours in a makeup artist's chair before going outside to get the morning paper, nor do they shop on Rodeo Drive.

Felicity Huffman, who is a fine actress, plays the alcoholic Mom who, when she learns of Rachel's abuse, rises to the occasion by finding a bottle of booze and gets fall down drunk. When she runs out, Georgia volunteers to bring back more, lots more, helping her daughter to ward off sobriety for as long as possible, raising the bar for all enablers. Try and make sense of any of this and a migraine will follow.

Clearly, the talent of Fonda, Lohan and Huffman can't keep this mess of a movie afloat. The script is so tone-deaf that there aren't enough inflections available to any of the actors that would give coherence to the lines they have to say. What was the director, Garry Marshall, a veteran of Hollywood, thinking?

Share This Story