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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: "28 Days Later" (with screenshots)



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#1 of 53 Adam_Reiter

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Posted September 25 2003 - 12:43 PM

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28 Days Later



Studio: Fox Searchlight Films

Year: 2003

Rated: R

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Film Length: 113 Minutes

Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish & French Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitled in English and Spanish

Bonus features:
-Audio Commentary by Director Danny Boyle & Writer Alex Garland
-3 Alternate Endings
-Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
-“Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later” Featurette
-Jacknife Lee Music Video
-Animated Storyboards
-Still Photo Galleries
-Theatrical Trailers and More!
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Release Date: October 21st, 2003









Movie...

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It’s been a while since a good zombie movie has been out! Set 28 days after an epidemic ravages Britain, the movie follows a handful of survivors as they struggle to make sense of the aftermath! “28 Days Later” pretty much nails it! Fox Searchlight Films picks up another winner with this nicely done independent film. Suspense, mixed with 4 cups of zombie action, add two teaspoons of a muted and grainy look, “Viola!” This film has everything you could ask for in a good zombie film. I especially liked the crisp “staccato” filming effect (almost like a strobe effect) when the zombies are on screen. It gives them a look of super-human speed and makes them 10 times as scary. It was very effective, I thought!

Information from the back cover:
Hailed as the most frightening film since “The Exorcist”, acclaimed director Danny Boyle’s groundbreaking take on zombie horror “isn’t just scary…it’s absolutely terrifying!” (Access Hollywood).

The movie starts out at a research facility, where there are cages full of infected apes. The scientists use apes in their research, and inject them with “pure rage” to study the apes, and develop a drug to suppress it. Think along the lines of a new age, Prozac! Of course, some damn “tree-huggin’ hippie” animal rights people break in to the lab to free the apes. A lone scientist try’s his best to warn them about the consequences of freeing the “infected” apes, but it doesn’t work. The apes attack, the blood-born virus spreads, and worldwide chaos ensues!

28 days later, a bicycle courier, Jim (Cillian Murphy), awakes from a coma in a desolate, London hospital. He of course is dumbfounded, as the hospital, and everything around is completely empty, and no one is anywhere. He wanders throughout streets, calling out, but he gets no answers. He finally ends up at a church, where bodies are piled up in the pews. An infected priest staggers out, and tries to attack Jim. Jim knocks the priest to the ground, and books it out of the church with five zombies in fast pursuit This scene really gets your heart pumping! Thankfully for Jim, Maltov cocktails are hurled from the darkness, and engulf the zombies in flames. Two survivors, Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) are there to help Jim. The zombies chase after them to a nearby gas station that Selena and Mark have “rigged”. The “flaming infected”, set off the gas station in a spectacular explosion! The three manage to escape into the tube station, into a convenience store that has been Selena and Mark’s hideout. This is where they both explain to Jim what has happened in the last 28 days! They tell him that the infection is transmitted through blood, and that you have only 10-20 seconds before you’re a full blown, flesh-chompin’ zombie.

Jim convinces Selena and Mark to take them to his parent’s house, as he is convinced that they are alive. When they arrive, bad things happen! I won’t go into them, as not to spoil any good stuff. Jim and Selena pair up to look for survivors and find some blinking Christmas lights in a lone apartment tower. There they find Frank (Bendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns). Frank and Hannah’s water supply is almost out, and they need to find other shelter. They pick-up an automated radio broadcast on Franks radio. It is Major Henry West (Christopher Eccleston) explaining that he and his group of soldiers have the answer to infection, and inform any survivors that they need to make it to their blockade 30 miles out of the city. The group of four concludes they have no other choice, and decide to chance the trip in Franks cab. The fact of the matter is, making it to the blockade is where the “real” problems begin!





Picture...

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Picture quality for this DVD is par. I didn’t see the movie in the theater, so I am not sure how it compares. The film is very grainy, and has a lot of dirt throughout. However, this is a NOT a DVD transfer issue. The directors chose to use digital video over film to achieve a grittier, “urban” look. I didn’t notice any compression. I really only noticed grain. On certain scenes, there was very, very heavy grain. The only time mosquito noise came in, was in one of the alternate endings. It is extremely grainy and mosquito noise was quite bad. No biggie for me however, since it is an obvious cutting room floor extra.

The colors were off. Not washed out necessarily, but everything had sort of a yellow / amber tone to it. Some scenes had colors muted more than others. I believe this was intentional due to the nature of the movie and depending what was going on in the scene. It gave more of a desperate atmosphere to the movie. Color gradience was a slight issue from time to time, but not too bad. Black levels were not the best, but usually adequate, I thought. You never seem to get really dark black levels with grainy film. Also, there is some heavy EE in spots where we get a “haloing” of certain objects. Pay especially close attention to my screenshot of the hanging phone receivers, for an EE example.




SEE FOR YOURSELF!: (click on the picture for a bigger version of the screen-shot)


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More screen shots here






Picture Quality Rating:
Picture: 3 / 5
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Sound...

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The DVD is mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1. The sound was actually very good I thought. Very clear dialog that was nicely centered to the screen. If anything to complain of, is that the sound was just a bit low. The result is that when the zombies attacked, it really scared the crap out of you! The separation of certain effects was extremely good. It was especially good in the opening scene with the monkeys/apes. You hear apes to the extreme left and right. It was done very well. Surround sound wasn’t too active, but I did hear some bullets whizzing and pinging behind me, and it did extend the soundstage for explosions, or zombie attacks.

LFE was very good in certain scenes, especially the gas station explosion. Also a few times with the music, the sub was very active, and reached deeply. It was a nice surprise due to this being a low budget film. Very good overall!







Sound Quality Rating:
Sound: 4 / 5
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Extras...



This DVD has a good selection of extras!. [/b]



Commentary

We get commentary from the Director and the Writer Alex Garland. They start off talking about how all of the beginning shots, are actually mock ups of civil unrest, and not real footage. They used DV for shooting the movie, and explain that the first mock- violent shots, sort of get you used to the feel of the DV look. Danny Boyle really liked the idea of the virus being a “psychological” virus, instead of biological one. It was a very unique angle they thought. They picked the hospital in the movie due to its more modern look, as most hospitals in London are gothic. They also went back and forth with the idea to have scenes littered with dead bodies vs. the deserted / abandoned look. They felt that the emptiness of the scenes were sort of symbolic that something had gone wrong, rather than specific reality of dead bodies and blood everywhere. They felt it was more interesting this way. It was more of an “atmospheric” decision, rather than a logical one.

A lot of the filming was in East London. It wasn’t as congested, and it was a bit easier for the film crews to get permission to hold traffic back for short lengths of time. Danny and Alex also make reference to the scene in Piccadilly Circus where there is a wall, full of letter’s and pictures of missing loved ones. It is very similar to what happened post 9-11-2001. They make sure that we know that they filmed the scenes before 9-11. They got the idea from what happened following an earthquake in China.

Overall it was a nice commentary. It wasn’t boring for me, and had a lot of good information about the film.



Deleted Scenes

There are 6 deleted scenes, all of which you can watch with, or without commentary. All deleted scenes are also all shown in 4:3 ratio and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

London Walk
Total Running Time: 1:21

Abandoned Train
Total Running Time: 1:47

Motorway Carnage
Total Running Time: 1:10

Taxi / Sweden
Total Running Time: 1:45

The Infected In The House
Total Running Time: 2:25

Floorboards
Total Running Time: 50 seconds



Alternate Endings

It says 3 alternate endings, but I only find 2. Obviously one of them is an Easter egg. Oh how I despise the Easter eggs!


Alternative Theatrical Ending

Total Running Time: 4:24 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3


Alternative Ending

Total Running Time: 4:24 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3


Mystery Ending
Haven’t found it yet!
Total Running Time: ??:?? / Aspect Ratio: 4:3



Pure Rage: The Making Of 28 Days Later

This is an interesting featurette where it explores the actual real world possibilities of a virus like that of the one in 28 days later. The featurette goes back and forth between scientist interviews and reports on other epidemic virus’ past and present, and clips of the movie that are related to the topic. We also get bits of interviews from the cast, commenting on the viral aspect of the film. It’s kind of scary when you watch this and think about the possibilities!! “It’s not a question of IF it’s going to happen, it’s WHEN it’s going to happen!”

Finally at 12 minutes in, we start to get “behind the scene” type of shots and comments on the script. We see interviews with the cast commenting on script and what they liked about it. The directors purposely chose to use lesser known actors. They wanted a cast of “everyday” people. We also find that to give a more “urban” feel to the movie, the directors chose to use digital video instead of film. They wanted the grittiness in the picture. We also hear insight of what was involved to get the deserted / desolate look in the film. There was everything from police holding back traffic, to filming at first break of light to minimize impact on the city.

Total Running Time: 24:20 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3




Galleries


Production Gallery With Commentary

Total Running Time: 18:11 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3


Polaroid Gallery With Commentary

Total Running Time: 4:14 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3





Theatrical Teaser

Total Running Time: 1:30 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3




Theatrical Trailer

Total Running Time: 2:00 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3




Animated Storyboards From The Original U.K Website

This is a collage of animated storyboards, set to the soundtrack of the Theatrical Teaser soundtrack.

Total Running Time: 1:30 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3




Jacknife Lee Music Video

A music video made up exclusively of clips from the movie. Not sure what category of music to put this Jacknife Lee song into. It’s sort of a medium paced, techno/soft/new age type song. A very interested song!

Total Running Time: 6:22 / Aspect Ratio: 4:3









Extras / Bonus Features Rating:
Extras: 4 / 5
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Menus...

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CHECK OUT THE NAVIGATION!:

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More menu shots here!










Conclusion...




"28 Days Later" is a well put together package. The movie itself was not quite as good I was hoping it to be, but it was a good and effective film overall!. Add to that some nice extras, and I think this is a "must buy" offering for any fan of this film.

I can definitely RECOMMEND buying this DVD! For everyone else, when in doubt, always rent first! Posted Image







This has been,
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#2 of 53 Walter Kittel

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Posted September 25 2003 - 12:56 PM

The amber tone very much replicates the theatrical presentation. Based upon the screen shots in the review, the transfer appears to be faithful to the film. Nice to see the film getting some decent extras; being a fan of apocalyptic films this is an easy purchase for me, and the extras don't hurt.

Regarding the overall film appearence, I'm expecting this film to look better in a Home Theater environment simply due to the smaller screen sizes, and the accompanied reduction in blockiness and size of digital artifacts when compared to a viewing upon a much larger theatrical screen.

- Walter.

Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#3 of 53 Blu

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:15 PM

I'm happy to see this movie is getting a good release with good extras.
(on a personal note I am excited to see another feature that was shot with a Canon XL1 as that is what a few fellow filmmakers and I are using, it is very inspiring)

I missed out on seeing this movie in theaters but have read quite a bit about it in indie magazines and am looking forward to it!

Very good review!

#4 of 53 Joseph J.D

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Posted September 25 2003 - 01:38 PM

I missed this one in the theatres but will definitely be picking this one up on release day. Can't wait!Posted Image

Great review Adam.Posted Image
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#5 of 53 Travis_W

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Posted September 25 2003 - 02:02 PM

Can't wait to get this DVD, most wanted title of the year.
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#6 of 53 Adam Tyner

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Posted September 25 2003 - 02:18 PM

I know you said you didn't see it theatrically, but it's worth noting that the haloing was present when I saw the movie on the big screen.

#7 of 53 Joshua Moran

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Posted September 25 2003 - 02:46 PM

My guess is the 3rd ending is after the credits. There was a new ending attached to the film in theaters here 28 Days after t released.

#8 of 53 ChrisBEA

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Posted September 25 2003 - 02:48 PM

I LOVED this movie in the theater!
Great review, I will be there on release day!.
The description sounds very much like I remember from the big screen.

#9 of 53 Malcolm R

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Posted September 25 2003 - 03:12 PM

...worldwide chaos ensues!

Discussions about this flick have led many to conclude that the virus has been confined/quarantined in the UK. The rest of the world was unaffected.


...you’re a full blown, flesh-chompin’ zombie.

I don't think the infected eat people, they just want to kill them. And are they really zombies? They're not "the living dead," just infected with a virus.


I liked the film and will buy the DVD. Probably the best thriller released this year.
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#10 of 53 Justin_S

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Posted September 25 2003 - 04:09 PM

Nice review. I've been awaiting this DVD ever since I saw the film theatrically. While not the best horror film of the year, it comes damn close, and in a year with several satisfying horror releases, it was one of the most satisfying.

#11 of 53 Rob Lutter

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Posted September 25 2003 - 04:21 PM

I didn't think of this film so much as a horror film as I did an excellent science-fiction film.

One question... since the movie was filmed in PAL, does this DVD suffer from PAL->NTSC slowdown? (25FPS->24)

#12 of 53 Dan Rudolph

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Posted September 25 2003 - 05:32 PM

I was under the impression is was shot (technically not filmed as it was DV) at 24 fps.
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#13 of 53 Simon Basso

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Posted September 25 2003 - 06:10 PM

I'm curious about the way this was transferred to ntsc as well. The film has two sequences shot on film rather than DV; some Super-8 inserts and standard 35mm was used for the ending.

I understand that the UK R2 dvd was entirely mastered from a film print, rather than a digital source, so I have avoided the UK dvd to avoid PAL speed-up. Can anyone confirm that the R1 dvd has been created anew rather than a conversion of the PAL master?

#14 of 53 Kenneth Cummings

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Posted September 25 2003 - 06:31 PM

I will be picking this one up. Since it similar to Omega Man (which I also picked up and liked), I will probably get a idea of how this bleak world full of zombies. Great review.
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#15 of 53 Dan Rudolph

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Posted September 25 2003 - 09:07 PM

Simon brigns up a good point. It's unlikely this was "filmed" at PAL-speed as it was made for theatrical release. Theaters in Europe project 24fps, same as here. Shooting 25 would have forced 4% slowdown in the theaters.
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#16 of 53 Brian Kidd

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Posted September 26 2003 - 12:24 AM

Actually, the halos were present on the film prints and not just the dvd. They came from using such a low-resolution video stock. I'm pretty sure this was filmed on non HiDef-DV. Anyone who hasn't seen this, please don't let the less-than-stellar image quality deter you. This is a fantastic little film!
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#17 of 53 Matt Pelham

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Posted September 26 2003 - 12:36 AM

Right, the print I saw in theaters was absolutely terrible. Massive Edge Enahcement, graininess, terrible resolution with hardly any detail, etc.

The movie was good, but I would'nt purchase it unless they shot the whole thing over with standard 35mm film. And I don't see how this abominable PQ contribues to the film in any way. It's not "documentary style", it's "terrible digital looking style".

#18 of 53 Simon Massey

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Posted September 26 2003 - 01:39 AM

Quote:
I understand that the UK R2 dvd was entirely mastered from a film print, rather than a digital source

Where did you get this from ????? I dont think this is true at all.

#19 of 53 Simon Basso

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Posted September 26 2003 - 03:16 AM

I read that Fox confirmed it when the UK dvd was released. I pass on only what I read, which is why I included the proviso. It seems plausible, given that it's not an entirely digital feature.

#20 of 53 Adam_Reiter

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Posted September 26 2003 - 03:42 AM

Malcom, as for Spoiler #1: True, however, they did not know that until the very end.

and Spoiler #2. Its easier to say "zombies" over and over, and its also easier for people to relate to. This is the only reason I chose to use "zombies". Although they do bite.