Friday Film News

By Londonist Last edited 134 months ago
Friday Film News

This week – rage causes a lot of trouble in 28 Weeks Later and the memoirs of Nelson Mandela’s prison guard are opened in Goodbye Bafana.

In 28 Days Later the Rage virus spread throughout Britain leaving it full of dead people and those that had killed them. Now, in 28 Weeks Later, the US Army has come to restore order, repopulate the city of London and, during the same process, also reunite families. Among the others, one survivor is reunited with his children - but if he survived, what happened to his wife? Little do they know what’s about to rise when the carrier of Rage virus enters the city.

Well, dead boring thinks Peter Bradshaw and he starts his Guardian review with, what we think can only be praise for 28 Days Later:

“Four years ago, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland had a huge, bloodthirsty, flesh-ripping, eyeball-gouging hit on their hands with 28 Days Later: a post-apocalyptic vision of Britain reduced to anarchy with the leak of a dangerous virus called "Rage", reducing one and all to ferocious zombies. It was entertaining genre stuff. Here is the disappointing sequel, on which Boyle and Garland serve as executive producers. They have entrusted it to the talented Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.”

Bradshaw gives the movie 2/5 and continues:

“I can only say that after a terrific beginning, the movie's credibility snaps like a frozen twig with one stupid plot-glitch around 30 minutes in and then, despite some spectacular moments, fails to disguise the fact that there isn't much mileage left in all those red-eyed folk running around growling and gibbering and chomping.”

But it’s not all bad:

”In the hands of production designer Mark Tildesley and cinematographer Enrique Chediak, the movie looks wonderful, and London especially is captivating. Its deserted streets are rich and eerie and strange, like something from another planet. Even a straightforward shot of a commercial airliner coming in to land at London City airport, gleaming and flashing in the early morning sun, looks sensational.”

Bradshaw concludes his review with the endless possibilities:

”The way is left open for more movies in a lucrative franchise: 52 Weeks Later, 104 Weeks Later, or maybe Nine 1/2 Weeks Later, the porn version with Kim Basinger, or Alan Weeks Later, in which the eyes of a well-loved sports commentator turn red and he gets the human-flesh-munchies. The idea could lumber on for some time to come.”

James Christopher who considers 28 Days Later "a sensation and 28 Weeks Later "almost as impressive as the original" gives this movie 3/5:

”28 Weeks Later is a blockbuster horror that chimes noisily with local fears: immigration, needy strangers, feral disease and Draconian laws.”

but continues:

”Given the Iraq War, Fresnadillo’s follow-up should have been as pungent as a Stilton. It’s a criminal disappointment that it isn’t. The satire, written by Rowan Joffe and Fresnadillo, might have looked sharp on the page a couple of years ago. But it looks desperately crude now.”

Anthony Quinn also gives the movie 3/5,

“The whole package has an energy and pace that become very hard to resist. Does this mean that 28 Weeks Later... is enjoyable? Not exactly, for even if you admire the formidable technique on display, there's a shortfall in humanity that leaves you oddly detached. It is one thing to be frightened by the plight of survivors in a post-apocalyptic hell; it's quite another thing to feel a connection to them as individuals. This film is a super-efficient machine, a thrill-ride to leave an audience definitely shaken, but not stirred.”

Watch the trailer here.

Next up, Goodbye Bafana.

By Katja Nykänen and Hazel Tsoi

Goodbye Bafana is the film version of memoirs written by James Gregory, Nelson Mandela's prison guard - apparently heavily disputed memoirs so the film ain't looking too sharp already. It gets a grudging 2/5 from Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian, who rather wearily documents the worthiness and the TV-movie quality of the whole thing. It has no surprises and follows the formula of "bad man learning new ways to be more tolerant and loveable" - then he goes on outline how it could have packed a mighty twist in its tale:

"...there could theoretically be a film in which a white guard comes to loathe Mandela more and more, has zero respect for him and Mandela is petulant, spiteful, totally lacking in gentle wisdom and amuses himself by igniting ladybirds with a magnifying glass. But such a film would not star Joseph Fiennes and Dennis Haysbert."

Oh, god, we'd love to see that film being made! But it hasn't been made, and Goodbye Bafana isn't it. James Christopher in The Times is more moved by it than Bradshaw - "The melodrama is a rose-tinted homage. But affecting too." However, his marks out of five is still a rather grudging 3/5, and he highlights the overeagerness to put Mandela on an ever higher pedastal that clearly put off a higher rating from him:

"Dennis Haysbert’s noble Mandela swings a heavy hammer to break the occasional rock. Despite the lack of a heavenly choir, this suspiciously plump activist is as fragrant as Jesus Christ."

Tim Robey in The Telegraph has similar misgivings about the film's lack of surprises except one:

"[Goodbye Bafana] doesn't hold many surprises, except one big one: Joseph Fiennes is the best thing in it"

and though he has respect for Dennis Haysbert as Mandela, he still can't get over the accents:

"His stilted impression of Mandela's accent makes him sound like some sort of oriental Bond villain."

Take your pick for this weekend's viewing: zombies and Americans in London or meaningful male bonding in South Africa. Or just hang around YouTube for more Shrek 3 trailers...

Last Updated 11 May 2007