matt qt’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wow, everything about this works so much worse than I remember. I’ve always thought that Danny Boyle was a shallow filmmaker, but of the three films I’ve seen from him, I’ve always considered this one my favorite. It was my first exposure to Boyle, and I actually found it pretty interesting when I was on my horror kick some time ago. Since then, some of Boyle’s other films have just made me feel disgusted and clearly lacked focus in their storytelling. By the third act, this film feels like it wants to go in several different directions, but can’t settle on a singular plot line. This is by no means Boyle’s most atrocious work, that title easily belongs to Trainspotting, but it is clear that the narrative and characters of this film are beyond shallow. Everyone knows that character development can make it break a movie, and in this case, the characters, amongst other things, contribute to this film’s downfall.
Another major complaint I have with Danny Boyle’s films is his absolutely dreadful editing style. Not only is it disorienting, but it distracts from what is actually being shown on screen. And this combined with the grainy look of the entire film? A recipe for disaster. Who in their right mind makes a stylistic choice to shoot your movie in SD? For this, the whole movie is a piece of garbage to look at, even the shots of Cillian Murphy aimlessly walking around the picturesque, empty London streets. I think that 28 Days Later would’ve had a lot to benefit from shooting this film.. like a normal movie, you know? The cinematography here is actually decent, but it is all made worthless by the film’s off putting SD resolution. Although the overbearingly hopeless feeling of the film may not have been as strong in HD, I think that’s a sacrifice Boyle should’ve taken, in order to avoid making the film look and feel so very unappealing.
I actually really like the idea that 28 Days Later is going for in the final act. With the bleak final act, Boyle is clearly trying to highlight the destructive nature of humankind, and it almost works, but as I mentioned previously, the film wants to cover too much, and ends up feeling like an overzealous hodgepodge of ideas. Most of this messy screenplay can be blamed on writer Alex Garland, whose work I normally love, but this very much does feel like a rough draft of a script. Garland pretty clearly had a more refined writing style by the time Ex Machina rolled around, which is a perfect screenplay in my opinion. But the execution of this final act is just poor, which is a shame because there’s no doubt in my mind that this film could have been saved by a banger of an ending. I respect 28 Days Later for being an ambitious horror film, but it honestly feels bland in today’s age of horror. In all honesty, Boyle is one of my least favorite directors, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t films of his that intrigue me. Sunshine looks like one hell of a ride, Michael Fassbender plays the titular character in Steve Jobs, and I’ve been recommended Shallow Grave on several occasions. Just because Danny Boyle’s cinema doesn’t work for me right now doesn’t mean that it never will.