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28 Days Later [VHS] [Import USA]
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A deadly virus escapes from a research centre and within twenty eight days the entire country is infected with the exception of a few survivors... Together they try to build a future for themselves... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition DVD.
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Now, onto the video resolution issue that many reviewers are complaining about. I was also shocked when I rented this Blu-ray and saw the awful video resolution. Basically, it's no better than a standard DVD except for the closing scene.
The reason: The film was filmed mostly in standard DV resolution, using a Canon XL1s camcorder (the closing scene being the exception - it was filmed in 35mm). DV is very low resolution in comparison to HD or 35mm film, so the problem (if you consider this a problem) is with the source material, NOT the transfer to Blu-ray. It was the director's decision to film in standard DV, so this is the best resolution that you will ever see of this film.
So, if you don't have this movie and the Blu-ray and the DVD version are the same price, I'd probably stick with the Blu-ray version just for future compatibility. But, if you already have the DVD version, I would recommend just sticking with that copy for now because the Blu-ray version isn't going to offer any enhancements, other than the closing scene.
I can understand those who give the movie a bad review since they were expecting something extremely scary (that's the way in which it is being marketed) and ended up watching an intelligent, well presented study in good and evil, right vs. wrong, loyalty vs. survival, and many other concepts that one wouldn't expect from a "horror" flick. This movie, in that sense, simply was not what the average goer was promised.
Now, as far as good films are concerned, this is definitely a worthy effort. It has more depth than one could ever expect; the cinematography is done extremely well; and the acting is superb (even on the part of the nearly silent and secondary infected characters). The symbolism is one that the average movie watcher might not get, especially if they're looking for two hours of gore or scary moments (there are very few of those, as the director clearly preferred to refrain from using extremely graphic imagery).
Indeed, what makes this film a valuable one is the social criticism and the analysis of human nature that it presents. What is more important, survival or friendship/family? Are the ethics of scientific research being checked to prevent the creation of harmful agents (even if not as tragic and extreme as what we see in this film)? Is it worth fighting for one's life when hope is dim or even non-existant? Many more questions arise and give extreme value to this film. This is definitely an excellent example of existentialist movie making. Whether it is a horror film or not becomes irrelevant once you observe its true meaning.
So, if you are the kind of person who enjoys trashy and bloody films like the Jason or Freddy "epics," or if you cannot handle too much thinking while at the theatre, then this is not a movie for you. If you've enjoyed "smart" flicks like "Lost Highway," "Frailty," or "The Ring," then this is definitely for you. You will feel good about seeing this one, even though it portrays so many bad and ugly things about us as "humans."
Have you ever thought that very thing---thought it as you watch the news, as you surf the Net, as you read your morning paper? As you watch flickering news reports of the latest mass riot in Liverpool or Paris, ethnic cleaning in the Balkans, slave-trading in the Sudan, tribal genocide all across Africa, our own politicians slobbering at the mouth as they call their opponents liars, morons, traitors?
As you see the latest news flash: shaven-skulled "militia" in dusty fatigues in some dirty border town, shoving weary refugees this way and that with the muzzles of their AK-47s. Or a breathless anchor bringing you up to speed on the fact two levees have given way, erasing---totally obliterating---a city you thought was there for the Ages?
Great. Now imagine that that kind of Insanity amped up a billion times, only it's catching through the blood. Imagine that and you have the travelogue to Hell that is Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later." And in Danny Boyle's film, Hell is very much other people.
Centuries ago the brilliant English physicist and celebrated polymath Sir Isaac Newton contended that "I see so far because I stand on the shoulders of giants." The same thing might be said of director Danny Boyle, who draws heavily on his own giants---zombie Grandmasters like George Romero, Dan O'Bannon, and Stephen King---for his own hyperkinetic descent into a post-Apocalyptic English Hell, "28 Days Later".
But with that in mind, Boyle has distilled all of the shock and terror of Romero's zombie trilogy into two hours of pure adrenaline, two hours of raw, sheer, shrieking terror. He has, with "28 Days Later", out-Romero'd Romero, and his stark, horrific, harrowing portrait of a London gone literally mad manages to capture the end of the world in a manner that utterly eluded the the TV-adaptation of King's "The Stand".
Forget the fact that the red-eyed, shrieking legions of the Infected in this movie aren't classic zombies: sure, they don't feed on the flesh of their victims, and yes, they don't lumber and shamble along.
The Infected don't just get Mad. They get Even.
Nothing in this movie lumbers or shambles along---but make no mistake about it, Boyle's latest is a zombie film, and it is so good, and so scary, that it rightfully claims its Crown as King of the Zombie Movies.
Here are some tasty little nuggets about the movie to tempt you with, without spoilers to ruin your appetite:
The PLOT: Animal rights activists break into a Cambridge biowarfare research facility, intent on setting their primate buddies free. A goggle-eyed scientist, returning a bit late with his moca frappucino, witnessing the break-in, begs them not to free the chimpanzees: the beasts are infected with a highly contagious virus known as Rage, which is spread through the blood and within 20 seconds turns its victim into a froth-mouthed, shrieking homicidal maniac.
The activists ignore the warning, a young woman opens a chimp's cage, and within seconds the chimp launches itself into its erstwhile rescuer's face.
Our protagonist, a bike messenger played sympathetically by Cillian Murphy, awakens from a coma in an eerily empty hospital ward; he stumbles out of the hospital into an equally empty London, and the fun begins.
The CINEMATOGRAPHY: Director of Photography Anthony Dod Mantle is an adherent of Dogme, the cinematic movement committed to using natural lighting; the result sets up the movie's haunting, sere, and unsettling visuals. London broils under a jaundiced, sterile sky, and broods at twilight in an otherwordly greyish blue; the empty city resembles an alien moonscape, and a gas station explosion is shot as though on another planet.
The Infected here don't walk, lumber, or lurch: they run---fast.
London's zombies are glimpsed only as a shrieking blur, or caught as loping shadows against a tunnel-wall; the combination of hyperkinetic editing and the blood-spattering gore (captured using much the same technique employed in the battle sequences of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Gladiator") makes the lulls between encounters with the Infected unbearably suspenseful.
The ACTING: Everyone here is an unknown (with the exception of "Gangs of New York"'s stolid Brendan Gleeson, who plays a London taxicab driver and---for a few minutes, anyway---gives the movie a reassuring moral center), and the acting is all superb and believable.
Cillian Murphy manages a remarkable transformation during the film, remarkable both for its outlandishness and (given the horror of his character's plight) believability. Noamie Harris and Noah Huntley shine as London survivors, and Christopher Eccleston is superbly Kurtzian as an embattled British Army Major at the center of his own raging heart of darkness.
MORAL of the STORY? Two, really: 1) if you're an animal activist, pick targets other than biowarfare facilities; and 2) if you're a soldier holed up in an English manor home, don't keep an infected zombie chained by the leg in the house garden.
Many of "28 Days"'s critics have attacked the movie for being 'derivative'---and yes, Boyle borrows heavily from a treasure-house of zombie and horror movies. The movie practically condenses all of the major action from Romero's 'Dead' trilogy, and the climactic, operatic final sequences in a storm-tossed English manor house could have been lifted directly from the horror video game "Resident Evil. But Boyle takes his inspiration, consolidates it, and then sets out in new, unexpected, and terrifying directions.
Boyle has crafted a masterpiece of movie terror, and one of the most bleakly disturbing films about the end of the world ever made.
And keep your lights out---they're drawn to lights.
The movie focuses on the people who have not been infected with a virus that turns humans into rage filled zombies. In fact, the zombies only make a few screen appearances, the fear factor of the movie coming mainly from the reactions of the uninfected people to their situation. The main characters are well acted and I cared about what happened to them. Visually the movie is a masterpiece and the scenes in an empty London are incredible.
I recommend 28 Days Later to fans of the other movies mentioned above or anybody looking for a thoughtful, scary zombie film. People looking to pull their brain out for a few hours or for non-stop gore and zombies will most likely be disappointed.
Right away, I realized that no one was safe in this story. You can't assume that the characters you love will live and the ones you hate will die. One thing I really liked was that once infected, the virus would take hold of a person within seconds. This took out the traditional moments of "Oh no, so and so is infected and no one knows - I guess we'll watch the virus slowly develop over the length of the film while building a very cheap, overused, yet somewhat effective bit of suspense." I liked the fact that if someone was infected, you had better kill them sooner than later - or risk them turning on you. Another thing I really liked about the "zombies" is that they do not stalk their victims by sluggishly pursuing them with a long drawn out groan. These guys are fast! They dash towards their prey while screaming and vomiting blood. It really is gruesome.
Speaking of gruesome, this film very much feels at times like the `B Movies' it has borrowed from. The gore is over the top and the picture quality of the movie is really poor since it was filmed on digital video. I don't know if it was done solely for purposes of budget, or just to create a low budget gritty feel, but I can't help but wonder if it would have come across more clearly had they shot on traditional film and spared us the halo ridden blur of pixels void of any sort of detail. Then again, the movie may not have worked at all had it been shot differently. It is interesting to note that the final shots of the movie were shot on film. This is clearly significant, but to keep the review clean of spoilers I will say no more.
The all British cast did a fine job. The only actor I was familiar with was Brendan Gleeson who was very good as expected. The other actors may be well known in the UK, but they are all unknown in my mind, and they all did very nice work.
I have a new respect for director Danny Boyle. Some of the shots in this movie are downright terrifying, while others are absolutely breathtaking. The entire post-virus Britain is brilliantly realized, and some of the images will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. I don't think the filmmakers were trying to make any statements about SARS, nor were they trying to draw any other real world parallels, but it is hard not to become just a little more paranoid after having seen the film. Sure it's preposterous that a virus would turn a normal human being into some terribly violent and hopeless monster full of despair and a lust for human blood, but it does make for a suspenseful and at times shocking movie that horror fans deserve after putting up with the dreck that they usually have to settle with. (Now that was a long sentence.) It isn't the scariest movie ever, but it was a Kevin Costner cameo away from being close.