Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Love Letter to 28 Days Later

This film, in my opinion, is not only the greatest zombie movie of all time, but one of the greatest films ever. I think it’s terrifying and raw without giving over to the cheesier aspects of the genre. 

The Infected
Are they zombies? I think anything that’s part of a hive mind hell bent on the destruction of anything living could either be called Monsanto directors, or zombies. I think the zombies in 28 days later care too much for others to be Monsanto directors, so I’m sticking with zombies. 

Opening Scene
The opening scene is so good in this film that Robert Kirkman totally ripped it off in The Walking Dead. We see Jim wake up in hospital after a bike accident in London. He doesn’t know what’s happening and neither do we. It’s the perfect character and scenario to understand the world through - Show don’t tell. We see him walking over London Bridge and through the city of London when it’s deserted. That in itself is especially haunting. He heads to a church and that’s when he finds out that something isn’t quite right. 

Compared to Other Zombie Movies
One of the big differences between this movie and most zombie movies is the amount of infected on screen. There are very few scenes where the infected are present en masse. For me, this makes the film much scarier. I desensitise very quickly with other zombie movies purely because of the sheer amount on the screen. In 28 Days Later, they are used sparingly and oftentimes it’s the threat of them that creates the tension. I think films like Dawn of the Dead are great, but less horrific.

28 Days Later is a combination of great pace, acting, suspense, gore, and terror. Lets hope Danny Boyle comes back for 28 Months Later. Here’s an alternative ending for the film:

Do you have a favourite zombie movie?

Michael Robertson (author of Crash)


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

World War Z Movie Review


I was apprehensive about World War Z based on the trailers. I saw huge swarms of zombies and was expecting a crazy, over-the-top zombie fest. And while the action was high, I’m pleased to say that the plot was a lot more robust than I initially expected. 

We meet our main character - Gerry Lane, played by Brad Pitt, and everything is perfect. We find out that he previously had a stressful job and now he’s retired so he can spend time with his family. Things are clearly going to go to shit very quickly. 

The next thing we see is the entire family stuck in a huge traffic jam. A police bike goes past and takes the wing mirror off the car and everything goes to hell pretty soon afterwards. What follows is a tense twenty minutes of Gerry and his family trying to get the hell out of the city. Gerry has contacts in the government and they eventually escape the chaos to be taken to an air craft carrier. 

This is when we find out that Gerry used to work for the UN and he was one of their best agents. They now need him to go in and help find an antidote to the virus. He’s reluctant at first, but when he’s told that they will turn his family away if he doesn’t, he agrees to go into the field. 

What follows is Gerry travelling from South Korea, to Israel, to Wales, to Nova Scotia. Each stop on the global tour reveals another piece of the puzzle. 

I loved this film’s plot. It was an intelligent, well thought out story that was an engaging and suspenseful. I often see zombie films rely so heavily on the zombies that the plot ends up either neglected or cliche. I’m pleased to say that World War Z was neither. This was the first film that I have seen in the cinema in a long time where I felt it could have gone on for three hours longer and I would have watched it all. 

If I were to make a list of my top three zombie films it would go like this:
1) 28 Days Later
2) World War Z
3) Dawn of the Dead (2004)

8 out of 10.

Michael Robertson
Get Crash by Michael Robertson at - www.michaelrobertson.co.uk

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Fast Zombies vs Slow Zombies

28 Days Later vs The Walking Dead, World War Z vs Dawn of the Dead, which do you prefer? While World War Z is yet to be released, I think the trailers give quite a good idea of what to expect from its post-apocalyptic world. At least with regards to how the zombies will behave. 

Firstly, slow zombies. So you have a walking cadaver shuffling along like an old person who has just shit themselves, mumbling 'brains' or some indecipherable groan that expresses a longing for the end of your life. What's scary about that? You walk / run past them, maybe bop them on the head and then go on your way. However, it's the sheer volume of these slow motherfucker's that makes them hard to deal with. To coin a Walking Dead phrase, it's a 'herd' that can be devastating. No matter how slow they are, if you're surrounded, you're fucked. Maybe it's not the zombies that are the treat, maybe it's your own complacency? They're like a rising tide that slowly creeps up on you. Instead of building a boat to sail the hell out of there, you put it off until tomorrow. Before you know it, you're on the roof of your house wishing that you'd built your ark before now. All you have left are roof tiles and no fresh water. Escape is impossible. Your fucked. Movement seems like the best strategy against them. A rolling stone suffers no loss. If you never settle then you can never be trapped. In theory anyway.

Fast zombies. I still have nightmares about 28 Days Later. Not only do you have to have your wits about you, but these fucker's are FAST. It doesn't matter how brave you are, when you have Usain Bolt hungry for your throat, you're fucked. They come in herds, they come in pairs, they come on their own. The fact is, you have to fight and you have to be quicker than they are. You have to be a badass like Selena to survive this apocalypse. I wonder if even Michone would cut it in the 28 Days Later world. World War Z shows another aspect to fast zombies - swarms! I like to think that I have a zombie survival plan, but I think that if I was in that world, I'd see the oncoming infected, curl up into the fetal position, and wait to be eaten.

Fast zombies freak the shit out of me, I think they win out as a story device every time over their slower shuffling cousins. Any thoughts?

Michael Robertson
My Website

Thursday, 16 May 2013

World War Z Official Trailer

I’ve been excited to see World War Z with Brad Pitt since it came to my attention over a year ago. Having heard huge praise for the book of the same name by Max Brookes, I have high hopes for it. I’ve watched all of the trailers so far, so in anticipation of the official release, here is the official trailer and my thoughts. 

I like how this one starts. One of the scariest things about a zombie apocalypse is that the majority of people have someone, and more likely, many people that they love, and the majority of people will lose most of them. To show Brad Pitt in the car with his little girls reminds us just how vulnerable we are to potential chaos. A zombie film is a powerful metaphor for how tenuous society is. It seems that many things could tip us over the edge into oblivion. 
The next thing we see is a huge explosion. Panic and confusion are great for creating tension. We’re then shown a policeman barking orders and seconds later, a truck takes him out. The law, the ones here to serve and protect, have just been rendered useless. 
We then see chaos and a man taking action in a world where there are no rules. In the space of seconds, every social construction is devastated and only the strongest will survive. 
However, where World War Z looks different to other zombie films is that the main protagonist has connections with either the government or a high enough power to equip him with everything he needs. In amongst the chaos, an agency has survived and a level of order is being fought for. 
The zombies - I love fast zombies. 28 Days Later, in my humble opinion, is the greatest zombie film I’ve ever seen. I love how bleak it is and how scary the fast zombies are. Never mind an undead horde that shuffles along in search of brains, these zombies want to fuck you up. It looks like World War Z is the same. The sheer weight of zombies is an interesting idea. In built up areas I suppose a herd would be like that if they were fast. I worry about the cgi. I hate to say it, but the trailer made me think of I Am Legend, which, for me, isn’t a positive association. The film was okay. The CGI was embarrassing, or at least the imagined monsters were.
We see more chaos, but we also see people moved to aircraft carriers. It seems that an element of faith has been placed in the government, thinking that they’ll look after their citizens. This also seems like a fresh approach, which is nice to see. 
Overall I’m still super excited to watch this film. It seems fresh and has the potential to be an amazing take on the zombie genre. Brad Pitt is sure to impress. For me, this all hinges on the zombies themselves. Please don’t be another I Am Legend. 
It looks great. I hope it is.   

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Who would you want with you during the zombie apocalypse? Rick vs Daryl - The Walking Dead

 Rick - He's the decision man, he'll get shit done and make choices. Unless he’s imagining that Laurie's watching him, then he's about as useful as a bag of bricks. Or if you put a disconnected phone in front of him, then he’ll start talking into it like a two-year-old trying to get through to Mummy at work. Or if his son's in peril, which the little brat often is. Or if he's riding a horse. Hmm. Despite his history, are we about to see a new Rick? One with compassion and a level head. One that's making the correct decisions for the sake of the group? Or one that has just crippled himself by taking on a coach full of useless people who couldn't collectively fight their way through tissue paper? One thing that could be said for Rick is that he sees the angles. He sees which play needs to be made and he knows how to shoot a gun.  

Daryl - There's a zombie - Bolt in the head - Boom. Want something done, Daryl sorts it out. He didn't even let his liability brother get in the way when the shit hit the fan. But is Daryl a leader? He’s a great team player, but when a decision needs to be made, can he make it? He stood by while Rick lost the plot and he wasn’t man enough to stand up to him. He could learn a thing or two from Hershel about saying what needs to be said.  

So who do you go for? The slightly unstable decision maker or the ever reliable soldier?

I would have to pick Daryl. Let’s be honest, Daryl’s a badass. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Walking Dead - Issue One Review

As much as I love Charlie Adlard, and I accept that he is The Walking Dead artist, I have to say, when re-reading this issue, that it’s a shame Tony Moore isn’t a faster artist. Issue one is beautiful - Especially as I’m reading the oversized omnibus version for this review.

Much like 28 days later, this starts with Rick waking up in hospital without the first clue as to what’s happening. The first page shows how he ended up in hospital - he gets shot − and page two is a beautiful full page spread of him waking up. 
Like 28 days later, he’s tired, confused, and weak. He tries to call a nurse but works out pretty quickly that something’s up. 
Robert Kirkman is such a good writer now that it’s interesting to read something he’s written from so long ago. The line ‘Did everyone just take a break at the same time?’ seems like such an unnecessary way to tell the reader that the hospital is deserted. We can already see that. I’m certain that he would edit that out now, George Lucas style, if he could. 
A complaint that is often levelled at TWD is that it’s slow paced. This issue is anything but. Within the first few pages, Rick has been shot, woken up in hospital, seen a zombie, and then walked into a canteen full of zombies. The splash page when he opens the door to the canteen is amazing. 

The next few pages see Rick escape the hospital, find a bike and a rotting corpse that’s still alive, have a breakdown and then ride away. 
He heads home. The detail on these pages is astounding. I wonder if this book would have been as popular if we’d had this level of art throughout but had to be content with 8-10 issues per year?

Rick finds nothing at his home and when he goes out in the garden, Morgan’s son, Duane, knocks him out with a shovel. Introducing other characters this early is a good way to get Rick and the reader up to speed. Rick decides to head to Atlanta to try and find his wife and kid because Morgan tells him that the government advised people to do that.
Before he leaves he gives Morgan a police car and some guns. He then returns to the corpse outside the hospital and kills her. He sheds a tear for her passing and then leaves town.

This is a great issue. The art is beautiful, the story moves at a good clip and it sets up the entire series with minimal exposition. The TV series stayed true to the plot of this issue. 

8 out of 10.    

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Who Would You Want With You During a Zombie Apocalypse? Woody Harrelson v Michonne.

So there's zombies running around and you have to pick someone - just one person - fictional or real - that you want to have with you to help you survive. Two that I can't decide between are Woody Harrelson and Michonne from The Walking Dead.

Fighting Ability

This one is a close call. Michonne is deadly in The Walking Dead. She removes zombies heads in a flash. She's a survivor. But the Woody Harrelson in Zombieland and Natural Born Killers is one bad MF.



If judging Michonne's personality based on the TV show, then it would be Woody hands down. She hasn't really said much yet and unlike the character in the comics, she seems quite moody. She's like a withdrawn teenager. She's better in the comics. However, Woody is hilarious. Zombieland isn't a great film but it would be shocking if it wasn't for Woody's performance. I think he'd have you in stitches. Michonne, while deadly, would get boring pretty quick. Sure, you'd be alive, but it would be quite a dry existence.



I think this one would have to go to Michonne. I just can't see Woody existing on berries and leaves, whereas I think Michonne would keep you alive for years through foraging. She'd know which mushrooms to eat and what leaves to wipe your arse with. I think once all of the food supplies ran out, Woody would be running around like a headless chicken. He doesn't seem like the boy scout type. Michonne would also be able to survive without Twinkies.



In a world full of zombies, stealth is important right? It would get pretty tiring having to fight every zombie that you came across. Again, I would have to give this to Michonne because Woody just doesn't give a shit. In fact, Woody would probably revel in the chance to try and fight every zombie that came his way. Michonne, on the other hand, would be sneaking through the woods, saving her energy and only killing the zombies that she needs to kill. This seems like a more sensible strategy.



So Michonne comes out on top. She would definitely keep you alive for longer. But if i had to spend the last of my days with someone, I would have to give it to Woody. At least you'd be laughing when a zombie was trying to eat your face off.

Friday, 19 April 2013

What Could Bring About the Apocalypse? Part Two - Germ Warfare

While I think germ warfare is very similar to a virus, and is in fact, a virus, the method of delivery is much different. Rather than it accidentally escaping into society, the disease or virus is thrust upon it.

These kind of stories work well, especially when global tension is as high as it is now. With terror attacks featuring predominantly in the media, the possibility of a bomb being 'dirty' seems plausible.

During The Cold War, the paranoia about nuclear war was at an all time high. It could happen at any time. With the memory of the Second World War still fairly fresh in the eighties, the thoughts of more air raids was a very real worry. Raymond Briggs' When The Wind Blows shows how the older generation, who have memories of times of conflict, could possibly react to nuclear war. It's beautifully depressing and well worth reading / watching.

An attack like this could happen while we slept in our beds, or while out shopping with the family. It's this uncertainty that makes it truly terrifying. We could be eating fast food one minute and then melting onto formica tables the next. Cockroaches and every piece of food made by McDonalds would be the only things left in tact.

With The West's insistence on stamping their dominance on the world, and with attacks like September the eleventh and the most recent bombings in Boston, that fear has resurfaced. North Korea have proven that they can send a bomb over to The States, so why not put a little dose of smallpox in it?

We have little control over our government's actions, yet we may have to pay the ultimate price for them. We selectively stamp out regimes because of how they operate, while leaving others because dominating their country has no gain for us. Do we care how people are treated if their country doesn't have oil? Surely some parts of the world believe that our removal would be for the greater good? Would the fact that The States and Britain are islands be enough to keep the attack localised? Would it inspire those inclined to send a disease our way in the hope that the seas would contain them?

A fear of disease has gripped humans for centuries, especially in the past when medical science was much less advanced. But are we now more fearful of a malicious attack since the US of A demonstrated what a nuclear weapon could do when they dropped one on Hiroshima?

Germ warfare is a great premise for an apocalypse story. How could we avoid a disease dropped on our doorsteps? I suppose it's all down to how it spreads. If the disease is passed through bodily fluids, maybe staying the hell away could keep us safe?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What Could Bring About the Apocalypse? Part One - A Virus.

With so many post-apocalyptical / dystopian stories, I thought I'd look at different scenarios that could bring about the apocalypse. Today - A Virus:

So it's come out in some way, shape, or form. Monkeys are being tested on in a lab and the monkeys get out and bite someone - 28 Day's Later. A government facility fails to contain their latest virus - The Stand.

It's been used before and it will continue to be used. It makes sense, a virus can be caught and can travel great distances. How it travels depends on the virus. It can be transferred through bodily fluids, or in the case of The Stand, it can be airborne. There's a wonderful chapter early on in The Stand that tracks the virus as it travels across America. It's the first time that I've read something from the virus' perspective. The great thing about making it airborne is that survival only happens because of an immunity to it. It's a total lottery and the story is more about who's left than actually surviving the event. When it is transferred through bodily fluids, anyone can survive and you have the suspense that at any point, a zombie could be biting your face off. That fear never goes away.

When I'm being entertained by post-apocalyptical stories, I much prefer the latter. Zombies creep me out, so the thought of being hunted by them is petrifying. The opening twenty minutes from 28 Weeks Later is truly horrifying. The guy leaves his wife behind! My only real criticism is that when the main characters in these stories bludgeon the zombies to death, blood smothering their faces in the process, they seem okay. Yet when a drop of blood falls from a crow's beak and lands in someone's eye - Boom!

Viruses seem like a plausible reason for an apocalypse. A read through history books tells us that.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Walking Dead - Season 3 Finale

******** Spoilers ********

So, The Walking Dead has wrapped up for another season. How was the ending?

The whole season was building up to a showdown between Rick and The Governor. Having read the comic books, I thought I knew how this would play out. I was wrong. In the previous episode, Andrea was tied to a torture chair in what looked like a basement, Michone had just come back from being told that Rick wanted to give her over to The Governor to save the group, and Merle died after having taken out some of The Governor's gang.

In this episode, The Governor convinces Woodbury that Rick and crew are nasty and hellbent on destroying their town. He manages to rouse the able bodied and they storm the prison.

Once they get inside, the place appears to be empty. The group head into the prison and start their search for the other survivors. This is when Glen and Maggie pop up, armed with automatic rifles and turn the prison into a shooting gallery. The attack seemed to borrow heavily from 300, showing how tactics can out-fight the sheer weight of numbers. The army from Woodbury retreats.

Meanwhile, Andrea is trying to retrieve a pair of pliers from the floor so she can free herself from her tied chair. All the while that she's doing this, we see that the man who has just recently died in the room with her, is starting to turn into a zombie. It's a race against time and Andrea finally manages to free herself as the man turns. We hear a fight between them but don't see it. The assumption is that Andrea got out in time. Especially as she's still in the comic books that left the Woodbury storyline behind years ago.

Once The Governor catches up with his fleeing troupe, he executes them all for cowardice. Only one woman, who plays dead, survives.

One of the looters stumbles upon Carl, who is with Hershel and his daughter. The looter is about to give himself up but Carl shoots him anyway. Later on, Hershel tells Rick what Carl has done. Carl justifies his actions by saying that if other people had been so ruthless then a lot of deaths would have been prevented. This world is turning Carl into something that doesn't sit right with his father.

After the Governor has gone, Rick, Daryl, and Michone, head to Woodbury to finish things. On the way they find all the people that the Governor has killed, and the survivor. When they arrive at Woodbury, the survivor gets them in and The Governor still hasn't returned. This is where we find that Andrea was bitten in the fight with the zombie. She takes a gun from Michone and says that all she wanted to do was save lives. She then kills herself.

The episode ends with Rick bringing all of the people from Woodbury back to the prison. All of the women, children, and injured people. Carl seems confused by the act of compassion as he watches the people get off the bus. Roll credits.

Andrea dying came as a huge shock. After seeing her have sex with both Shane and The Governor, I suppose that it was the only thing they could do to redeem that character. Maybe Robert Kirkman recognised how annoying she was and could see that there was no saving her. I like that the show deviates from the comics so much. It makes the experience more exciting to not know what's coming. Like in the comics, anyone can die at any point.

This episode also showed that Rick has a heart. It was a real turning point for him. Carl killing the member of The Governor's gang reminded Rick that he had a little boy to be a role model for. We saw a moment with Michone and him where he appologised. He also confessed that he only took her in because of the baby food that she was carrying. Michone said that he would have taken her in anyway. His hallucinations of Lori continued but he's learning to live with them now. It seemed that he was stepping out of the long dark tunnel that he's been lost in for most of the series, and is becoming the compassionate leader that he has the potential to be.

I would have liked to see something else happening with The Governor. I was hoping that he would die in this episode and my worry is that the next series will drag out a storyline that could have been wrapped up in this one. Maybe the prison was an expensive set and they want to use it some more.

Overall this was a good series. It suffered at points for being a little too slow. This is a complaint I would also level at the comics. However, what Kirkman always does is gives you enough to keep you coming back. Also, when he delivers the big moments, the knock you on your arse.

Roll on season 4.