28 Days Later -- UMD Review Review
Directed and produced by the duo behind Trainspotting and penned by Alex Garland (The Beach and the upcoming Halo film), 28 Days Later created a stir among moviegoers when it came out. It had been a long time since a truly original suspense/horror movie had managed to captivate audiences, and they came out in droves to support the film. Despite costing only $8 Million to shoot, the movie grossed over $45 Million in the US alone and significantly more worldwide.
Lab animals infected with a virus causing uncontrollable rage are released by activists, and the movie suddenly cuts to... 28 Days Later. A young man named Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, wakes up in a hospital, only to find it and the rest of London, deserted. He meets up with a handful of survivors and learns that the virus swept across the entire world in less than a month, killing nearly everyone. The "infected" as they are called, don't die, but are instead turned into zombie-like creatures with a thirst for human flesh, and they outnumber Jim and his comrades by the thousands. The small group eventually finds salvation when they meet up with another group of survivors... or so it seems.
28 Days Later is one of those movies that gets you thinking about what you would do if you were in the main characters' place, and that's the main reason I found it enjoyable. Sure they do some lame things from time to time, but for the most part, you see why Jim and the others make the decisions they do. You feel their helplessness when things are bleak, and you feel excited when things are looking up. The movie's not without its flaws, however. It gets pretty slow in the middle, and it's not a particularly uplifting film, but for the most part, it's very enjoyable.
On DVD the movie is shown in a 1.85:1 aspect ration and the UMD is presented in a 1.78:1 Anamorphic transfer, so there's very little difference in the picture across formats. The PSP doesn't do dark scenes well, so there are a number of instances where you really can't see anything. UMD is a new format, so it's understandable that video isn't being optimized perfectly for it, but hopefully companies will start cranking up the brightness a little bit to compensate for the PSP. When brightness isn't an issue, the picture is phenomenally clear especially during the "infected" attacks, which were shot at a different shutter speed. The movie is supposed to look dreary, so there are lots of greys and greens, but when there is a splash of color, it looks great and you take notice.
There's no doubt that this movie would sound great in true surround sound, but the pseudo-surround stereo mix works just fine on the PSP. You'll hear branches snap and leaves rustle as the infected run through the woods; you'll hear the panicked breathing of someone hiding, just inches away from meeting their end - even the rain sounds good. There are a few spots where the sound effects seem a little dull and don't have the "oomph" that you'd expect, but overall it's one of the better sounding UMD's that I've heard.
If you habla espanol, or parle francais, there are stereo tracks in both languages. English and Spanish subtitles are included as well, but there aren't any in French.
One of the most noteworthy things about the movie's theatrical release was the alternate ending that was added on to the film a few weeks into its run. Both that cut as well as an additional ending are included on the UMD. I won't give you any spoilers, but one ending takes the movie in a vastly different direction, while the other is almost unchanged from the original ending, save for one significant omission. Unfortunately there is no director's commentary for the movie or the additional endings, which is a shame because the commentary is particularly interesting on the DVD.
In addition to the two alternate endings, there are trailers for Fight
Club, Kiss of the Dragon, and Never Die Alone.
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from 28 Days Later, but I came away pleasantly surprised. I don't know that I'd recommend it as a purchase to someone that hasn't seen it, but it's certainly worth a rental. If you are a fan of the movie, this is one of the better UMD's out there, so you might want to consider picking it up.
Trivia: Cillian Murphy auditioned for the role of Batman in Batman Begins. The part went to Christian Bale, but Cillian was cast as The Scarecrow.
11/23/2005 Aaron Thomas