Doomsday (2008)

Doomsday review!Johnny Butane

Starring Rhona Mitra, Malcolm McDowell, Craig Conway, Bob Hoskins

Directed by “>Neil Marshall (interview)

Man, I really hope when the world does end, we have a contingent of survivors who take it upon themselves to not only become cannibals but make a freakin’ spectator sport out of the practice. Because if Neil Marshall’s love letter to post-apocalyptic movies of old, Doomsday, is any indication, eating the flesh of others is fun!

I will admit when I saw the first trailers for Doomsday, I didn’t know what to think; this was clearly not going to be in the same vein as Marshall’s horror masterpiece The Descent, but now I’m thankful for that fact. Sure, he could’ve taken the easy route and directed the first remake that came across his plate, but instead he chose to do something that’s become a novelty in Hollywood: direct something original.

Not that there’s anything in Doomsday we’ve not seen done before, it’s just that it’s been a long time since we have and Marshall is able to combine his influences into a coherent, lively and gory as hell action movie. And what the hell is wrong with that?

Doomsday review!In case you didn’t follow along with the press, Doomsday takes place 25 years in the future, after a horrible plague swept across Scotland and forced the government to seal in the entire country behind a 30-foot wall. Now the plague has resurfaced in London, and the government decides to send in a team of men lead by Sinclair (Mitra) to try and find Dr. Kane (McDowell), a scientist who was working on an antidote before Scotland was walled off and their only hope for a possible cure.

Once over the wall, the group quickly learns that most of Glasgow is now run by Sol (Conway), a post-apocalyptic punk who likes to dance, make speeches and roast people alive in front of screaming loyalists. Sinclair’s group is cut down quickly by Sol’s followers, but the tough-as-nails and hot-as-hell soldier girl manages to escape with Kane’s daughter, Cally (Buring), who is their best chance of finding the doctor. Little do they know that he’s taken up residence in a castle with his own fucked-up society under his thumb as well.

That’s what Doomsday is about, but it’s not what it’s about, if you get me. What it’s about is having a good time at the movies with badass characters you can cheer for, be they good or bad people, tight action set pieces (sometimes too tight, but I’ll get to that), a lot of gore and just the right amount of explosions. While some might say that Marshall’s “dumbed down” for Doomsday, I think that’s looking into it too much; this is a fun film through and through, and if you can’t have a good time with it, you may already be dead.

Doomsday review!All the acting is solid through and through, and Marshall utilizes the formidable skills of his long-time DP Sam McCurdy to compose some truly iconic scenes, like that of the crowd of citizens running towards the walls closing them into Scotland forever at the beginning. Not to mention one of the most badass car chases put to film in a long time, complete with some great modified vehicles that look like the land-based equivalent to the Reaver ships from Joss Whedon’s Serenity.

So aside from it being too short, the only real problems I had with the film itself involved the incredibly fast editing during the fight scenes. Some are worse than others, but the one going on at the end, when Sol finds his way into Sinclair’s badass (and nigh-indestructible) Bentley, is when my brain really had a hard time keeping up with my eyes. I don’t know why this always goes on in action films. These guys are trained to fight; why can’t we see ‘em do it? But that really a minor complaint considering how enjoyable Doomsday is from top to bottom.

Do yourself a favor; go see Doomsday while it’s in theaters because this was a movie meant to be experienced on the big screen. It’s a big, smart and gory thrill ride, and they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Thanks, Mr. Marshall, for reminding me just how much of a blast a mini-apocalypse can be!


4 out of 5

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  • Rob

    It was even worse than that, because at least Darth Maul had the badass lightsaber fight at the end of Episode I. And with Viper it didn’t help that pretty much all of her scenes were put up online before the movie was released.

    Still, hopefully this will get her more attention and more roles, because she really has a great presence about her. And sexy as hell.

  • Terminal

    Yep, I agree. Her potential was very underused much like Darth Maul.

  • Rob

    I loved it. My only complaint was that Lee-Anne Liebenberg was sorely underused. She was so fucking awesome as Viper.

  • Terminal

    I’d give it an A without a doubt. I loved it.

  • Kryten Syxx

    I am not sure why so many consider Rhona Mitra hot in this film. Her facial expression wasn’t that of a bad ass, but more like a woman who had a stick planted firmly up her ass. That + zero personality = total loss of interest. Personally, if I can find the main character interesting (in any film), it’s easier to forgive other problems in a movie. That just didn’t happen here.

    However, I have a feeling that Doomsday will find it’s niche on DVD. The thought of a Blu-ray version alone makes me want to buy it regardless of the flick’s problems.

  • Fireflyfan

    The Descent sucked major donkey balls, and from the trailer, this just looks even worse.

    Like a crappy version of 28 Days Later. No wonder this movie bombed.

  • G.D.

    Saw this last night and while I had a blast for most of it, I wouldn’t ever pretend that his is in ANY way a smart movie. This movie was agressively stupid, as if Marshall purposely made it as stupid and mindless as he could. Which is not neccesarily a problem, but I doubt it’ll make for much rewatchability.

    As for hot girls, the tattooed chick was WAY hotter than Rhona Mitra.

    I have to say that I love the idea for that assassin movie, and I think it would be really cool to have the Dog Soldiers cast vs the Descent cast.

  • thedudeabides

    My cat had kittens.

    Horror is dead!

  • PelusaMG

    “Mitra was just another in the line of Underworld/Ultraviolet leather-clad hot chicks without much personality.”

    You seem to be implying that this is a problem?

    As for me, I am more than happy to watch leather-clad hot chicks without much personality romping around on screen… 🙂

  • Sirand

    I so wanted to love this movie…but it just felt like a conceptual mess. I loved Marshall’s old school directing, but the script just felt like a tattered mess of genre homages without any cool characters. Mitra was just another in the line of Underworld/Ultraviolet leather-clad hot chicks without much personality.

  • Caine Is Able


    “Outpost” is still in the cards for Marshall, but is just on the backburner right now. In fact, he’s got a few projects beyond “Sacrilege” that are waiting in the wings…

    “Outpost” – His zombies-on-an-oil-rig flick that is apparently going to be a Raimi/Jackson-esque splatter horror comedy whenever he finally makes it.

    “Eagle’s Nest” – An Indiana Jones-style action thriller set in Scotland with a dude named Jack Ravenscroft taking out Nazi scum!

    “The Ninth Legion” – An historical epic during Roman times.

    “Untitled Assassin Flick” – Two warring factions of assassins duking it out for supremacy. He’s expressed his desire to make one of the factions male and the other female, with him ideally setting his Dog Soldiers cast against his one for The Descent!

    I believe he’s also developing a Sherlock Holmes film for one of the big studios as the first in a potential series of new Holmes flicks (albeit it more action-oriented than previous ones). At least he was at one point anyway.

  • Terminal

    Number 7 at the box office.

    Horror is dead!

  • thedudeabides

    I thought Marshall was going to follow this up with Outpost, his zombies on an oil rig epic.
    (I think the title was originally called Outpost, but it may have changed)

  • The Woman In Black

    Wait. For once I agree with Butane AND Messiahman? The apocalypse really is upon us! Doomsday was a blast from start to finish. There was never a dull moment and nothing that made me roll my eyes. I was so afraid it was going to be a bad knockoff of Thunderdome, but it really does have its own point of view and voice. Marshall has truly come into his own — who knew he could direct spectacle as well as claustrophobia? Mitra was awesome, but the real star of the show for me was Craig Conway. That dude rocks!

  • Messiahman

    The moment Malcolm McDowell passes a sign that reads “Gift Shop” in the medieval castle is one of many instances of the witty sense of humor Marshall has going on in DOOMSDAY. The entire film is filled with this sly humor (note the absolutely inspired musical choices) and it plays like GRINDHOUSE for those who grew up in the 80s – just like GRINDHOUSE, this is aimed at a very specific demographic. I’d say there’s more wit, intelligence and energetic glee in any random scene of DOOMSDAY than in Paul W.S. Anderson’s entire ouvre. DOOMSDAY’s exactly what it sets out to be — a great, big, glorious, homage-filled b-movie with zero pretensions and an assload of phenomenal setpieces. It’s precisely what turgid disasters like the UNDERWORLD and RESIDENT EVIL films utterly failed to be.

    I was wildly entertained from start to finish, and I think this film firmly establishes Marshall as *the* preeminent genre director working today. Can’t wait to see SACRILEGE.

  • Foywonder

    I’d give it about a C-

    If this is what qualifies as smart then we’ve been we’ve all been giving Paul WS Anderson way too hard a time.

  • Uncle Creepy

    Yeah, I dug it lots too. It was a fucking blast from start to finish!

  • Messiahman

    I’ll agree with everything. And not only is it indeed smart, it’s also got a terrific sense of humor.

  • Foywonder

    Of everything I disagree with about this review the use of the word “smart” to describe it mindblowing. Smart? Seriously? I don’t think so.

  • Tsotha-lanti

    “Number 7 at the box office.

    Horror is dead!”


    Don’t even get me started on the fact that Doomsday isn’t even a horror movie…

  • Terminal

    But still, horror is dead, you know.