Having been warned by faye_darkelf that it was less than great, I wasn't holding out for an excellent movie, but I'd seen and really enjoyed 28 Days Later and figured I'd probably like at least some of this one.
So in goes the disc and I take my place on my bed with Desmond, the plush polar bear.......
First off, this film takes all of its directing cues from the first movie and has the same look and feel and could honestly be (at least on first viewing) part of the 28 Days..... This I like. I can't stand sequels that ignore the vibe and atmosphere of the predecessor (yes, Terminator 2 I'm looking at you).
That said, from the beginning, the quick cut shakeyness of the camera-work was maybe a little overdone, it was just about right in the 28 days later, but maybe a wee bit too much in 28 Weeks... That small gripe aside, the first bit of the movie was an enjoyable ride. The whole "isolated farmhouse" setup is particularly well done and shows exactly what sort of a person Robert Carlyles character is.
Then we cut to some refugees coming back to the UK after the U.S army has cleared the country up. There's a small safe zone that's being repopulated on the isle of dogs and all the repatriots head there. There was a lot of similarity IMO to the island fortress place in Land Of The Dead - A comparisson that kept popping in to my mind.....
The usual round of character introductions comes in here and there are some that are cookie cutter and some that develop really well over the course of the movie.
It starts to get interesting when a pair of kids (the main focus characters of the movie) sneak out and head to their old home in London, where they discover...their mom. Quite a surprise as we thought her to have been left for dead during the farmhouse scene.
Back to the base they all go. How did mom survive though?
She has been bitten, but is sort of immune; A trait that the medical officer thinks could be present the son who also shares the one blue eye/ one brown eye genetic quirk.
Essentially, the rest of the film is about the efforts of the medic and a sniper to keep the kids alive. As always happens, all hell breaks loose and major violence and blood letting occur. The army goes to "code red" and starts to wipe out every living thing in the area. This starts with machine guns and escalates up to an airstrike with firebombs and god awful CGI.
I find that one of the best ways to snap me out of the mood of a film is to use blatantly cheap CGI. Some is okay, but the firebomb flames and jet engines just looked very poor. In fact, I'm sure I saw that very same flame filter at the beginning of a South Park episode. A real pity, as up 'till then it was pretty atmospheric.
This was where the bad bits started coming thick and fast. Who the hell thought of the "mow lots of the infected down with the blades of a flying helicopter" scene? I mean really.
IMHO, if you are going to have that sort of thing in a movie, please use some common sense with regards to things like physics. Some stuff we can suspend disbelief for -like rage viruses- but not something that's just a big budet, badly rendered Brain-dead style lawnmower scene.
Overall, it felt almost like the acion bits were trying very, very hard to be hollywood. The later scene of the car outrunning the cannon-fire from an apache helicopter being another point in question. It might have worked in a movie staring Bruce Willis and his vest, but this wasn't that sort of film.
The action continues a bit and then everything gets considerably better; But because the spell was broken and atmosphere has lapsed, the whole thing feels a little drawn out. Again, a shame as I think the descent into the underground was just brilliant. In fact, from that point on, it all got much better. I especially enjoyed the ending.
Apart from the slightly over enthusiastic camera work and some dodgy CGI/ directing decisions, I really enjoyed the film. For once a sequel that keeps close to the character of the original film.
p.s. one last thing I have to say is that the music was superb. Essentially the same as the first movie, it still fitted perfectly and lent a real sense of suspense.