Friday night we found ourselves in a very odd situation - we had no 6 year old in the house! She had gone over to a friend's house after school because in the original version of the weekend, Heidi was going to be headed to Iowa City and I didn't get off of work in time to pick Anna up from school. Well, the weather messed up Heidi's travel plans, but we figured, what the heck - we'll let Anna go over to her friend's house anyway.
So we got in the car and hit the grocery store (so was everyone else - it was as if people were preparing for a nuclear holocaust or something), got some Chinese take out and headed home to watch one of our Netflix. It was Miss Potter - the recent biopic of children's author Beatrix Potter, with Renee Zellwegger and Ewan McGregor (a favorite of Heidi's for obvious reasons.) It was filled with images of the English countryside which would make XO eager to hop a flight before the movie was over. Miss Potter is a decent film - certainly not a waste of time, but for some reason, it left me wanting more. When we were talking about it after it was over, we decided that as a recap of the life of Beatrix Potter, it was interesting, but as a story, there was certainly something lacking. There really was no dramatic arc - no fundamental change in Beatrix Potter that drove the movie forward. Additionally, the last third of the movie really seemed tacked on - as if much less thought had gone into that section than the previous two-thirds of the movie. There was a lot I didn't know about Beatrix Potter and I while I felt like I learned a lot about her, I was ultimately less than satisfied.
The second movie in the double feature was one that I watched alone - for obvious reasons. It was 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to 2002's zombie-ish flick 28 Days Later. I say "zombie-ish" because zombie purists argue intensely that this movie is NOT a zombie movie - the monsters are living human beings that are "infected" with the rage virus, and not the dead come back to life. That is all very well and good (and true) but 28 Days Later and its sequel 28 Weeks Later are certainly inspired by zombie films and I think scare as well as any actual zombie movie.
In 28 Weeks Later, mainland Britain has been decimated by the rage virus and the US Army has taken over, creating a "safe zone" in London and are starting to bring people back in. Through a plot device that I wouldn't dream of spoiling, the rage virus is back and spreads through the safe zone. What results is a roller coaster ride of carnage and blood and gore. It also had a VERY effective opening sequence. Despite this, I was not as satisfied by this movie as I was the original. I found myself wondering why this was for all the elements of a good horror movie really were present.
It took me a while, but I think I've figured it out - there really was nothing more to add to the story than what was done in 28 Days Later. Sure, it's cool to see more infecteds and there were a few cool surprises, it didn't really add anything to what had already been told. It kind of had a been there, done that feel to it. It had big footsteps to follow - the first 30 minutes of 28 Days Later, with its scenes of a completely deserted London, would be tough to top.
It wasn't till it was all over that I realized I'd watched two quite disparate films with the same setting. All in all, they were worth our time, even if they both failed to meet (admittedly) lofty expectations.