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?
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.
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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