|Zombie 3d - The reinvention of the zombie film
The zombie genre has been reinvented, reinvigorated, revolutionized and remade countless times. The genre acts almost as an allegory of literally the worst
fate that can befall mankind in a post apocalyptic world. There are definitely varying depictions of the zombies themselves, but the routine is fairly formulaic,
having been used similarly in decades: Some outbreak, disease or tragedy causes people to become zombie-like creatures that overwhelm any defences the
world possibly had, resulting in a post apocalyptic world inhabited by a few survivors. The stories almost always deal with these survivors and their fate in
this world. The events during such situations also sets up many themes that filmmakers have exploited to tell compelling stories; that of hope, love, triumph
over adversity or even grim tales of betrayal, stark reality of survival of the fittest and a plethora of other avenues that have been explored with the genre.
The mainstream appeal of zombie movies was initially accredited to director George A. Romero's series of films beginning with 'Dawn Of The Dead'. Since
then the film has been remade by (now) critically acclaimed director Zack Snyder in his feature film debut. Snyder has gone onto being the key architect of
Warner Bros & DC Comics Extended Cinematic Universe, directing movies like 'Man Of Steel', Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice' & the upcoming
The fascination with the zombie apocalypse has enticed many filmmakers and storytellers over the decades, and there has been many iterations of the
zombie plague. Starting out as a horror genre, the 'zombie movie' has formed its own sub genre in the culture of films, ranging from many different genre of
films from comedy, ('Shaun Of The Dead', 'Zombieland') serious political drama ('World War Z') to even romance ('Warm Bodies'). And the genre is
being reinvented even to this day with independent films such as the short 'Dawn Of The Deaf'. Not being limited to movies, the concept has even jumped
over to smaller screens on television with 'The Walking Dead' being one of the most popular shows of all time currently active on air, as well as comic
books, graphic novels, novels, plays, etc.
The appeal of the zombie movie isn't limited to Hollywood as even international film industries have created successful and engaging zombie films such as
the recent critically acclaimed South Korean film 'Train To Busan' by director Sang-ho Yeon, which even spawned an animated prequel. Even one of the
largest film industries in the world, Bollywood, created their own zombie movie with the very mainstream and over the top comedy, 'Go Goa Gone' by
directors Krishna D. K. & Raj Nidimoru. However, the craze for this sub genre of films wasn't always at its peak. And there was one filmmaker whose
own take on the zombie movie genre, reinvigorated the masses and brought back the appeal to the mainstream.
Academy award winning writer director Danny Boyle ('T2: Trainspotting') created his own zombie movie in 2002 called '28 Days Later', the immense
success of which brought the undead into the minds of screenwriters, directors, comic book writers and most importantly, the audiences.
'28 Days Later' tells the story of Jim (Cillian Murphy) being awakened from a long coma, only to find himself in a deserted hospital in the U.K. Eventually
making his way outside, he discovers a world desolated and abandoned. Visuals of carnage lay all around him. As he makes his way through his unfamiliar
world, he comes across infected and ravenous people trying to attack him. He is rescued by Selena (Naomie Harris) & Mark, (Noah Huntley) who
eventually inform him that a virus spread through the human population, infecting everyone into beast-like creatures, leading to the downfall of society; all
within 28 days of the initial outbreak. '28 Days Later' is essentially the story of these three survivors as they attempt to figure out their new place in the
world, hunting down the possibility of a cure, meeting others in their journey, all with the sole intention of determining if their is any hope in this new world.
The opening of '28 Days Later' may seem overly familiar to many zombie fiction fans, as it's very similar to the opening of the massively successful 'The
Walking Dead' comics franchise, which has since been adapted into the above mentioned long running TV Series on AMC. The main character of Rick
played by Andrew Lincoln on the show, awakes in a similar manner and has also been unawares of the influences on zombies on the world. The comic
book series was first published in 2003, however many other zombie stories also begin in a similar way, so it's difficult to track down which came first. This
kind of opening isn't uncommon in films though, as a protagonist that is unaware of the world around them, basically acts as a surrogate to the audience, as
they learn of the plot and premise, as the character themselves do simultaneously.
'28 Days Later' is kind of a ground breaking movie at the time of its release given the scope of the production at the time. The story is very obviously
dealing with something very fictional and fantastical elements, however Director Danny Boyle creates an environment that is eerily slow and perfectly
conveys the type of desolate wasteland that we see in the film, providing an unparalleled realism that zombie movies were usually devoid of prior to. This
was also the first time that we're treated to such a situation outside of the United State Of America.
While more zombie genres of the time were set in America, '28 Days Later' broke the mould by being set in the U.K. Boyle made this distinction very
explicit as there are many scenes of local landmarks recognizable to being in the U.K., transformed to suit the events of the story. But it was quite difficult
to achieve these breathtaking shots of landmarks of bustling cityscapes, but devoid of crowds or people, as the premise imposes. Boyle and his production
had to make use of almost guerrilla filmmaking techniques to get these shots. Not being able to shut down large areas for production, simply for establishing
shots or even scenes with the actors, the crew had to shoot very early in the mornings, within a small window, before the normal crowds took over. They
achieved this by using Mini DV cameras, instead of rigging normal film equipment which would have ben costly and impractical given the time constraints.
Due to these techniques, '28 Days Later' was shot only with a very shoe-string budget, compared to most film productions, of only $8 Million Dollars,
however, the film produced over $87 Million at the global Box Office. The reasons for the film's success is a combination of unique storytelling, never
before seen setting, and the fine calibre of performances from its leading cast.
This marked one of the first times that Cillian Murphy appeared on the map of most film audiences, and he made an impression. Murphy eventually went on
to star in breakout performances in franchise films like Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Naomie Harris is incidentally nominated for an Oscar for her
work in 'Moonlight'. The 'Dr. Who' alum, Christopher Eccleston also makes an impression in the role of an antagonist in the film. The surprising success of
'28 Days Later' naturally spawned a sequel, entitled '28 Weeks Later'.
With a brand new cast, the backing of a massively successful film behind them, the same creators of Danny Boyle and others made '28 Weeks Later',
continuing the setting of the first film, but telling a different story about different characters. This time the story was that of a family stranded in this post
apocalyptic zombie world, and how they come together with the film of some unlikely heroes.
When a father (Robert Carlyle) leaves behind his wife during a zombie attack, he is reunited with his kids who were out of the country, only to lie to them
to protect his own cowardice. The daughter (Imogen Poots) and her brother, assuming their mother is dead, find their home to collect memories, only to
find her alive and well. The mother apparently was not symptomatic to the virus that destroyed the world. But before she could be tested, the father visits
her, unintentionally gets infected and causes a breakout in the safe zone they were all transported to. Thus begins another mad dash for the protagonists of
the young kids, with the help of a doctor (Rose Byrne) and a military office (Jeremy Renner) to get to safety. Things are further complicated as the doctor
realizes the kids could carry an immunity to the virus like their mother, potentially carrying the cure to the zombie apocalypse within their DNA.
The films sees very recognizable faces today, in very early roles, before they went on to become household names. Robert Carlyle can be most known for
his role in Danny Boyle's own 'Trainspotting', also appearing in the sequel. Rose Byrne has gone on to make a name for herself as part of the 'X-Men'
franchise and other varied roles in horror, drama and the come genres, proving herself to be incredibly multi talented. Jeremy Renner is now known to all as
'Hawkeye', in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as part of 'The Avengers' films. Even the antagonist Idris Elba has now gone on to much bigger projects in
'The Wire', 'Luthor' and coincidentally also part of the MCU.
'28 Weeks Later' was a lot more adrenaline fuelled and fast paced than its predecessor. While the first film evoked a sense of abandonment and isolation,
the sequel was a more straight forward zombie attack movie without the necessary human antagonists that made the first film so dark and intriguing. The
nature of the plot was very straightforward. While the movie still dealt with the emotional aspects of a family in ruins, the devastating effects of seeing your
loved ones change into rage filled creatures, it was a lot more fast paced, preventing any absorption of those scenes to fully resonate with audiences.
This shift in tone could be directly as a result of Danny Boyle handing over the director-ship from the first film to new director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo.
Boyle's film slowed things down for the plot to properly affect the audience over time, however Fresnadillo's film doesn't allow for that slow drip. Instead
it's a fast paced get-away movie. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, in comparison to the first film, it's definitely felt like an unnecessary departure.
This distinction between the '28 Days Later & its sequel '28 Weeks Later' is also marked in its Box Office collections. On a $15 Million budget, '28
Weeks Later' only earned $64 Million, quite less than its predecessor. While Danny Boyle and original writer Alex Garland have been discussing the
possibility of a third film in the franchise, as of 2015, nothing has materialized beyond claims of wanting to do the film. The franchise however has lived on in
another medium. Shortly after the second movie, '28 Weeks Later', a graphic novel was published entitled '28 Days Later: The Aftermath'. Written by
Steve Niles with a variety of artists covering different chapters of the book, the Graphic Novel sought to bridge the gap between the first and second films.
This is not the first time that the story of a movie or TV show has continued or lived on in the Comic Book or Graphic Novel format. 'Buffy The Vampire',
'Smallville' and 'Firefly' are examples of fan favourite TV shows that continued their respective stories in comic book form for years after they went off the
air. They received just as much, if not more of a receptive audience through an alternative medium than in their original iteration.
Similarly, the Graphic Novel '28 Days Later: The Aftermath' wanted to take advantage of the popularity of the movies to tell a different story. The Novel
was split into four different sections, each featuring a different story with different characters. None of the original characters were to return. The Novel
began by telling a prequel story about how the Rage Virus that infected people and caused this post apocalyptic world was created. That story followed
two scientists who, looking to find a cure, ended up accidentally creating a virus that enraged people beyond human perceptions. This story directly
connects into the opening scene of the first film, '28 Days Later'. Another story sees another tale of familial survival as the parents sacrifice themselves for
the sake of their children, who make it through the city unharmed. The last story is a bit more out of left field, as it follows the adventures of a vigilante-like
figure who is hunting down the infected. He meets his match with another person doing the same, as they have a rivalry. The vigilante is eventually captured
by the military and taken to a safe zone.
The last of the stories sees all characters connected in the same place, but realizing that it's not as safe as they had thought. They try to escape, but are
eventually captured or killed. Unbelievably, that is essentially how the Graphic Novel ends, with all the new characters introduced, ending up dead. It's a
tragic realization, but the statement being made by the writer is clear; this world is one without hope and completely desolate with no redemption for those
who seek it. It's a very depressing message, given that the first film focused on some sort of hope near the end.
The Graphic Novel came off more as a supplemental work to accompany the franchise, than adding to it in any way. The four separate stories all provided
very bleak looks into the other survivors of the story, from the main characters in both films. Both the movies as well had an ending that was quite optimistic
in nature, at least allowing the audience to extrapolate an ending that aligned with a conclusion resulting in somewhat of a happy ending. The Graphic Novel
however, strips any interpretation of an ending that can be anything but dire, given how the ending fully depicts everyone's death.
While '28 Days Later: The Aftermath' was meant to be a continuation of the story initiated in the movies, the overall result was disappointing, as it didn't
connect to the original story in any way. Especially the tragic ending further disconnected audiences from the franchise. Thus, the ongoing Comic Series
simply entitled '28 Days Later' tries to directly connect into the original film franchise, with a returning character.
In 2009, comic book publisher BOOM! Studios published an ongoing comic book series that directly ties into the events of the movies, as well as creating
its own story beyond the movies. The story by Michael Alan Nelson and drawn by Declan Shalvey returned the original character of Selena played by
Naomie Harris from the first '28 Days Later' movie, and showed her story beyond the first two films, including brand new adventures that she has in this
post apocalyptic world. One of the new characters also introduced in the comic book series had a direct connection to the antagonist of the first film,
played by Christopher Eccleston.
The series sees Selena, now safe at a refugee camp in Norway, reluctantly having to be dragged back into the infected areas of the world in order to help a
journalist with his assignment. While Selena at first recalls the trauma and difficulty she had surviving the zombies, she ends up helping the journalist, to
prevent him from being in danger, given her experience in those areas. But she's not alone, as we're introduced to a military team of new character who will
join them on their journey.
The series deals with tropes of the Zombie genre that has since the release of the first film, become very familiar to audiences, and essentially staples of the
genre. Selena, being the most experienced of the group, knows exactly how to deal with people who are immediately infected. The others in her group and
instantly shocked at her ruthless behaviour of killing people on their own team, once they are infected. This obviously causes friction in her relationships with
the group. These are very same elements and aspects seen in other zombie genres like 'The Walking Dead', where people have to consciously kill their
loved ones, to prevent a fate worse than death. The inclusion of Selena into this story, instantly draws a connection to the intense drama that the first film
provided, and automatically gives her a back story that exists in another medium that audiences can seek out. Similarly to how the character of Sarah
Connor was featured in 'T2: Judgement Day', referencing the events of 'The Terminator'.
The connection doesn't end there, as we are introduced to another Military character that happened to be personally connected to Christopher Eccleston's
character in the first film (whom Selena and her group killed) and now seeks revenge on her. The comic book series successfully builds on this pre-existing
stories and scenes already established in the film series to create a true sequel that '28 Weeks Later' failed to be.
While being accredited for being the movie that reinvigorated the zombie movie genre, the '28 Days Later' franchise provides one of the most
comprehensive look at the beginning and middle of the creation of a zombie apocalypse. While films like 'I Am Legend' or the 'Resident Evil' franchise gives
us many ways in which the apocalypse starts, most of those stories almost always usually feature a time-jump to explain how events got from the society we
know today, to the world we see in the actual story of the film. Other post apocalyptic movies in general don't even show the world as it was, but only
references it through exposition and dialogue.
Through it's many works in a various of medium, from film to graphic novel to comic book, the '28 Days Later' franchise is able to flesh out the entire
Zombie apocalypse from beginning to end. The performances of the franchise are also ever-lasting, as some of the more well-known and popular film and
tv actors of today give immense performances in franchise unlike anything they've done since. The grimness and realism of the '28 Days Later' franchise
also make it one of the best Zombie Franchises in the history of the genre.
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