Sunday, 18 May 2008
Written & Directed by: Neil Marshall
Starring: Rhona Mitra, Adrian Lester, David O’Hara, Bob Hoskins & Malcolm McDowell
Neil Marshall returns with a veritable schmorgesboard of a movie, a film that name checks just about every genre going and every cool movie from the 70s and 80s. It’s a shame he has gone the route of fan boy crazy as making a “homage” movie is always a dubious prospect: too much name dropping and restyling of favourite scenes from classic movies. However, Marshall just manages to make the heady mix of Doomsday work, largely due to the infectious energy and that most films haven’t been this much fun in a long time.
So we have a virus that is killing people in Britain. The infected are all sent to Scotland and sealed in behind a giant wall and left to die. Thirty years later the virus reappears in London, the infection spreading fast. Chance would have it that the infected in Scotland seem to be getting better meaning there must be a cure for the virus. Dodgy government officials send in a team to extract the cure led by the sultry Sinclair (Mitra). Carnage, Mad Max car chases and medieval bonkers ensue. Did they just roast Sean Pertwee alive and eat him? Oh, yep, they did.
For it’s faults, and there are a few, it really is a waste of time to pick at them as Doomsday is all about fun. Gore soaked, action packed fun. It may not make a lick of sense (Where do those authentic medieval clothes come from? How do the bad guys fly from London to Scotland in a helicopter in the course of a car chase?) but when there is this much gore, action and verve thrown at the screen, we fans really should rejoice. What makes Doomsday work is its unrelenting velocity and that Marshall emerges as a talented action director with several barnstorming set pieces. The action is rough and ready and often soaked in blood with Marshall forgoing the CGI route to deliver down and dirty stunt work. The initial attack on Sinclair’s team and her fight with a medieval gladiator are standouts but it’s that car chase that excels. Slick stunt work, great sight gags and the sheer sense of speed make this a soon to be classic chase and it sure kicks the arse out of the supposed “car chase” movie, Death Proof.
The constant referencing and if we are honest, ripping off, of other movies gets a little tiring and in some ways it’s disappointing Marshall didn’t follow up his first two films with something more original. Dog Soldiers and The Descent were original and skilful blasts of genre fun while Doomsday is just merely fun. No bad thing for sure but this constant homaging by new directors is getting a little stale. Most films by John Carpenter and George Miller along with just about every Italian film from the 70s and 80s are name checked here. And I’m pretty sure the “If he touches me one more time, I’ll kill him” scene from The Last Boy Scout is referenced as well. This may just be one homage too far.
It’s the sheer audacity of Doomsday that works, never apologizing for the frantic carnage cavalcade it is. See it while you still can on the big screen as it will fry your brain, sizzle your eyeballs and give you a few laughs along the way. If only all British films were this much fun.
Special mention should also go to the musical interlude. A scene that comes out of nowhere, is absolutely bonkers, features little singing but mucho music, dancing and some foxy post apocalyptic women and is maddeningly entertaining. Worth seeing the flick just for this bit.