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Danny Boyle is steadily building a reputation for himself which is bound to appeal to every film studio. Boyle has an amazing talent for making thought-provoking movies with relatively low budgets, which also happen to make a lot of money! Having directed films such as Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary, you might have been forgiven for expecting his latest movie to be along the same lines. Instead however, audiences were treated to 28 Days Later which tackled the premise of a deadly virus. It was not the movie most people expected, but it still performed exceptionally well at the box office, and is now about to be released on DVD.

28 Days Later
Movie
28 Days later focuses on a deadly virus called “rage”, which is released into the public domain by anti-vivisection activists. The activists raid a primate research facility and release a monkey which has been infected with the rage virus. The film then jumps forward 28 days and the true extent of the viral infection becomes apparent when we are introduced to Jim, a patient who has just regained consciousness after a road traffic accident. The strange thing is that the hospital he wakes up in is deserted, and upon further investigation it also appears that the streets of London are empty.  

While roaming the post-apocalyptic streets, Jim decides to loot a shop and this is where he meets his first human counterparts, who explain to him what has happened. Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) tell Jim about the virus which has left Britain in a state of chaos. The rage virus is transmitted by a drop of blood and infects a person within a matter of seconds, turning its infected subject into a permanent state of murderous rage. 28 days on and nearly all of Britain has been infected and only a few survivors are left to struggle on with life. Understandably Jim finds the news hard to come to terms with, and decides to visit his parents’ house to find out if they have survived. During this visit Jim comes face to face with his first rage-infected person and he discovers the brutality that the virus has brought to civilisation.

28 Days Later
Another encounter with rage-infected beings (best described as zombies) leads the group to a cockney taxi driver called Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns), who happen to rescue the group and welcome the strangers into their house. It is during their stay that the group hear a radio transmission which encourages all survivors to travel to Manchester to form an army to fight the rage virus. Spurred on by the broadcast, the survivors decide to make the perilous journey. Upon their arrival in Manchester they are met by Major Henry West (Chris Ecclestone) and his band of soldiers, who have setup a fortress in a disused mansion.

28 Days is based on a genre which has been used a thousand times, but the film still manages to make use of original ideas. The fact that it doesn’t bow to the gore fests that are currently doing the rounds in Hollywood is one of the main reasons this film succeeds. Danny Boyle obviously decided that he wanted the movie to be driven by suspense and its characters, so apart from the opening scene we are treated to a movie which leaves a lot to the imagination. That’s not to say that the movie is tepid, on the contrary it has plenty of scenes which will leave you hiding behind the sofa. Another advantage this movie has is its lack of big name actors. Having leading actors in movies can sometime distract from the storyline, but this is not the case with 28 Days Later. A strong storyline is only slightly let down by a rushed ending, which doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the movie. However if you can see past that then you are in for a good night’s entertainment. Recent zombie movies like Resident Evil were major disappointments in my opinion, so it’s nice to finally see one that delivers.

Video
28 Days Later is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. Due to the film’s budget and because of Danny Boyle’s previous filming methods I wasn’t expecting a great deal from the transfer of this movie. Colours were subdued and lacked any clear definition which, having not seen the movie in the cinema, I can only guess was the director’s wish. However, due to the nature of the movie a lot of the scenes were shot in dark lighting and the transfer dealt with black levels efficiently. Grain levels were also acceptable. The image appeared sharp and detailed, but there were signs of edge enhancements throughout. Apparently the movie was originally shot on digital video, but the DVD has been transferred from the image print and therefore suffers from a lot of image processing like edge enhancement. Also at times I could spot artifacting, but overall the quality of this transfer is pretty reasonable, but not brilliant.  

Audio
20th Century Fox have provided only one soundtrack with this release which is slightly disappointing news for our foreign readers. However, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track with this release is pretty solid. I certainly wouldn’t rate it near the top of my all-time favourite soundtracks, but taking the film’s budget into account this one is no slouch. Rears are used sparingly but effectively throughout, and the dialogue is audible for the most part. There are times when voices are muffled and lost amidst the pounding musical score, but for the majority of the movie the dialogue is prefectly clear. Subtitles are also provided in English and Swedish.

28 Days Later
Extras
The theme for the extras on this disc is very much orientated heavily in the direction of commentaries. First up is the actual audio commentary with director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland. I was really looking forward to this commentary due to the nature of the movie, however I was left feeling slightly disappointed. The commentators don’t sound like they actually know each other and for this reason it suffers. There are also too many pauses which contributed to a disjointed commentary. There are some very interesting sections covered, but overall this is not one of the best commentaries that I have heard in recent times.

There are also seven deleted scenes included in the extras section of this disc. The scenes vary in length from around one minute to three minutes and cover various aspects of the movie. However, the majority of the scenes would have featured either at the beginning or the end of the final cut. My favourite scene is called London Walk and extends the opening sequence where Jim is wondering around the deserted streets of London. The scenes do suffer heavily from artifacting, but are certainly worth taking a look at. Each scene is also accompanied by a commentary from Danny Boyle and Alex Garland. Also featured on the disc is an alternate ending which has a running time of just over two minutes. Once again the alternate ending is accompanied by a commentary. This scene is essentially the same as the original ending, but has one essential change which I am not going to mention as it might give away the story.

The next set of extras fall under the category of Galleries. The first gallery is called the production gallery and is accompanied by a commentary. This is probably one of the most detailed galleries that I have seen on DVD so far, the commentary is also a worthy addition and adds to the impact of the photos. This extra has a running time of just over eighteen minutes. The second gallery is called the polaroid gallery, which as the title suggest is a section of polaroid images taken by various members of the crew. This feature is targeted at film buffs and last for around four minutes.

28 Days Later
In my opinion the best extra on this disc is called Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later. This is essentially a twenty five minute chat about the premise of the storyline. Various members of the crew talk about the idea behind the movie and how it relates to threats in society today. The documentary also features some behind the scenes footage from the making of the movie and we get to see some brief interviews with members of the cast. This is definitely worth a viewing, but it is the type of material which may leave you feeling uneasy about the chances of a virus breakout in current times. A very thought-provoking documentary!

The final section on this disc is called marketing, and features a wide selection of trailers and a music video. As well as the theatrical trailer we are also treated to the theatrical teaser. I remember seeing the teaser in the cinema and it certainly left me wanting to see the movie. In my opinion the teaser is actually more effective than the trailer which seemed targeted more at American audiences. Also included in this section are animated storyboards which were taken from the website. This extra lasts for just over a minute. The last extra to be found on this disc is a Jacknife Lee music video which if I am honest is not really my sort of music. The music is techno based, and the video features many of the scenes from the movie. In fact there is too much of the movie shown for my liking and I would definitely recommend watching the movie before this video. The music video lasts for just over six minutes.

Overall
28 Days Later dares to differ from your average Hollywood horror movie and this is the main reason for its success. The movie is thought-provoking and concentrates on the emotional states of the characters, rather than turning into a no-holds barred gorefest. The ending is a slight let-down, but by that time the film had done enough to win me over. As for the disc, if you are a fan of commentaries then you are in for a treat! Most of the extras (of which there are a nice selection) are accompanied by commentaries, but in my opinion the highlight of the disc has to be the making of documentary which should leave you feeling very uneasy.


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