Thugs With Guns: The Portrayal of Army Guys in 28 DAYS LATER

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28 DAYS LATER is a very good flick about a handful of survivors of a ‘rage’ virus in London–you know the basic story. It’s going along an interesting path when the characters leave London. What will they find beyond the city? Desolation and horses. There are so many people and situations the characters could encounter. When they lose one of their number things get even more dire, making whatever they encounter next that much more of a problem.

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They wished he’d promised them showers.

They encounter some military men squatting in a house. This being a modern movie, the soldiers are, of course, barbarians, barely kept in check by their mildly more-sophisticated boss, who “promised them women.” (Why would he do such a thing? Why would they believe he could deliver?) Our characters clash with the military and are–ironically!–saved by the rage-aholics they’ve been running from. They then escape, somehow, and everything goes back to normal, or will a few days after the end credits scroll up.

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Burning Man: You’re doing it wrong.

Romero and Cameron made the dumb and/or vile military fashionable in ALIENS and DAY OF THE DEAD, after the military was ridiculously glorified for decades. It isn’t that the military is sacred and can’t be caricatured or criticized, but it’s just so tired. 28 Days Later was clipping along and then…THUD! We’re being preached at about the thuggishness of those dopes who go into the military instead of getting their liberal arts degree. It’s anything but daring; its predictable, and predictability is deadly in any movie.

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Effective enough, but…

It wouldn’t have bugged me if our gang came across a house filled with gun nuts who’d established their own safe location. There’s a chance for drama: What if the gun nuts, who everyone mocks, had survived while everyone else died? Wouldn’t that put our characters in an ethical corner? Probably not, but something worse, it would put the filmmakers in one. That’s even more taboo. But with an opening scene that puts at least a little blame for the rage outbreak on some animal rights do-gooders, it’d be refreshing to see more poking at the moviemakers’ own (I assume) beliefs.

Or maybe that would make it too much like the end of NO BLADE OF GRASS.

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“We need to pick out Our Song, hon, what would you suggest?” she said, right before we broke up.
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