Monday, 30 July 2007

28 Weeks Later

Including this as a Moviegrenade! is something of a shock, not least to me. I walked out of the cinema stunned by parts of the movie – but let down by its core. And there may be some spoilers in this, but if there are, they're not fundamental or surprising. Trust me on this.

Let me explain. If you don't know the plot, this movie kicks off, yes, 28 weeks after the end of the first movie. In the first movie, England was ravaged by a virus called Rage, which made infected folks really, really angry. And murderous. And mental. It was a fast, furious and in parts, fucking fantastic movie. Violence exploded and died down like in real life, it came out of nowhere; and it posed interesting questions; which is worst, a world full of infected mentals or a world full of non-infected mentals with guns?

The sequel attains some of the same highs and still made me gasp with its brutality at times. It takes a lot to do that, I love my horror movies. I even watch the news on TV occasionally. The opening sequence, in which Robert Carlyle and his missus are boarded up in a farmhouse during the initial infection period. It echoes the first movie, with an ejaculation of barbarity, people doing anything to survive against ridiculous odds and mindless murder. Carlyle escapes. Next time we see him, he's meeting his kids off the train as London is repopulated, 28 weeks on.

Turns out, his wife survived the farmhouse attack he ran from (and to be honest, I think anyone would have run from it). And within her, the virus has mutated – and is passed on to Carlyle.

By the way, Robert Carlyle is a pretty bloody good actor and I don't hold him responsible for any of the following shitness.

Anyway, the virus gets out. Carlyle spreads it, and it moves like wildfire through the new population. The army of course has a huge presence, and in a very powerful scene, snipers are on rooftops trying to pick off the infected in a fleeing crowd of hundreds. Eventually, seeing how fast the virus moves, they're given the order to kill everyone on sight. It's surprisingly moving, despite viewing most of the action from the rooftops.

We move on. Some survive, and are trying to escape the area before it is napalmed to destroy the virus.

Robert Carlyle, infected and mental, also manages to escape; in one of the movie's most shit scenes, he steps into a side street to avoid the wall of fire which kills everyone else. So he's infected, but he can reason? Why can no-one else? Not only that, but he follows his kids to try and chomp them as well. This just doesn't work in any way as a device. It's fucking annoying, in fact, that we're supposed to buy this. Why is he different? No reason. At all. Except maybe to inject some kind of pathos while throwing logic, burning, out into the street.

Even so, there's some real tension, and like the first movie you're never quite sure what's going to happen. I left the cinema shocked and stunned by parts of it and insulted by others.

Yes, it's a grenade, but it's one worth seeing. The good far outweighs the bad, and while it's more sensationalist than the first movie, it works as entertainment with no 'message'. If you ignore the Carlyle thread running through it like Rage, of course.

Hollow Man 2

Straight-to-video is a fertile ground for finding undiscovered gems or real pieces of shit – both of which come under the not-so-strict Moviegrenade! remit.

Hollow Man II falls into both categories. Well, all three, I suppose – straight to video/DVD, an it's an… undiscovered piece of shit.

The story is simple; government funded scheme to make people invisible goes haywire when invisible person goes mental. Lots of killing happen because he needs 'the buffer' to stop the invisibility serum destroying him; only one woman can make the buffer, which was denied him by the government/big business who wanted his existence kept secret so he could murder political opponents.

Into this stumbles cop and James Blunt lookalike Peter Facinelli, who really should know better. He tries to protect scientist bird, who is supposed to be hot totty but isn't. And no, she doesn't get her norks out, in case you were wondering.

So, what do you need to know? Budgetary constraints are obvious; Christian Slater is the Hollow Man in this outing, and he appears as himself for maybe six minutes of screen time; the rest, it's his voice and some dodgy-sounding heavy breathing. It's amazing he wasn't caught straight away with that asthma. His transformation uses footage from the original and more expensive movie, and scenes where the invisible is visible are kept to a bare minimum.

I kept wondering why the movie was based in Seattle; usually, when a city outside of New York or LA is used it's for a reason. This reason doesn't become apparent until the end, when Blunt-A-Like and Slater go head to head in a rainstorm. Just as well really, or two invisible men fighting would have made the shittest film climax ever.

Worst moment of the movie is right in the nonsensical middle. Scientist Bird suggests that in two hours they could be in Oregon, and no-one would know where to find them, so they would be safe. She also points out that Slater can only survive another month at most. Fuckwit copper says no, how can she say that when Slater killed his partner. No, he says, I'm going after him.

Riiiiight. So there's army and SWAT after this guy, and he's going to die in a month anyway. And you have to go after him. You twat.

Definitely one of those movie moments where you pull for the bad guy. And while it's fun in (short) parts, it's still one to avoid. Consider this a moviegrenade I jumped on for you, and thank me in your prayers.