Theatrical Review: Doomsday

In the near future, a deadly virus called the Reaper Virus breaks out in Scotland, which as a result, causes UK forces to erect a wall all around the nation, effectively quarantining them from the rest of the world. 30 plus years later in the year 2035, England feels the effects of what their actions has caused, with other nations turning their backs on them and the nation itself beginning to collapse under drastic economic conditions. And yet it begins to get worse, with an outbreak of Reaper Virus resurfacing in London. But continuous satellite scans of Scotland have revealed that there are a smattering of human survivors, leading officials to believe that there is a cure and that one of the architects of that cure, a Doctor Marcus Kane, still behind those walls was successful. Now, the best police operative in London, Eden Sinclair is charged to lead a team back into Scotland to find that cure.

And that’s the basic premise of Doomsday the newest movie from director Neil Marshall, who previously directed two other great genre films, the military/werewolf thriller Dog Soldiers, and the story of a spelunking trip gone awry, The Descent (my own pick as the second best movie of 2006). And at least for me, Doomsday is right up there with them, a movie that’s an homage to post-apocalyptic films of the past (in particular Escape From New York and the Mad Max movies, but a fun little ride all it’s own as well.

Marshall crams a hell of a lot in this nearly two hour film, and it’s clear to me that he, his cast and crew are having a great time with it. This isn’t just an homage to the films that I mentioned above, but also to the style of cool over-the-top B-movie, Grindhouse sort of action movies… hell, at the end of this, I thought Rodriguez and Tarantino should be inducting Marshall into the club.

There’s exploitation thrills galore in the movie, and it’s all conducted at a pretty fast pace. It absolutely looks terrific, with some really nice set pieces, including a cool gladitorial type of fight scene, and capping off with a nifty car chase that’s not quite up to what George Miller did in The Road Warrior (it’s just not as epic), but still filmed really well and just the thing that should cap off something like this. Marshall is really aided well here with the music of Tyler Bates that manages to have some echoes of John Carpenter’s music as well as some of the strains from 28 Days Later. Bates is really a rising star in film score composition and I can’t wait to hear what he does next.

Marshall’s got a really cool cast assembled here, with actress Rhona Mitra leading the way as Eden Sinclair. As far as I’m concerned, this is breakout stuff for Mitra- no she won’t win any sort of Oscar for this, but she certainly does establish herself as a presence in the film and she’s really committed herself to the over-the-top action in a big way. She’s backed up with a great assortment of UK talent, including Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, Alexander Siddig, David O’Hara, Adrian Lister and Sean Pertwee amongst others. And again, at least for me, it looked like they were all just having a great time here.

Anyway, I just thought this was brilliant fun, not just as a good high-paced action piece, but also as a great mish-mash homage to all the films that obviously have influenced Neil Marshall as a filmmaker. For me, it was as much fun finding his references as it was just watching the action unfold, and oh was it so cool to see a film like this just come in and be this incredibly fun exploitation piece. On top of all of that, nothing but cool trailers leading the way, including The Incredible Hulk and another fun looking fright-fest called The Strangers. Between this and Funny Games this is probably one of the best weekends I’ll have at the movies all year. If you’re looking for something life-defining and dramatically weighty, look elsewhere, but if you’re wanting to see some good old unapologetic genre fun, Doomsday fills the bill (and for me, after such terrible genre fare as Jumper and 10,000 B.C. this was just what the doctor ordered). Highly, highly recommended…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

18. March 2008 by Darren Goodhart
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