- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
hen you’re trying to make a name for yourself in Hollywood, it doesn’t come without obstacles. You have to do just enough to get noticed, and once you’ve done that, you can’t hold back – not even for a second – or you’ll be forgotten quicker than you were made into a star. Hollywood is filled with writers, directors and actors who peaked early, only to disappoint with their next project and be thrown to the curb, and while some might lump Neil Marshall into that group, his never-say-die approach to filmmaking suggests otherwise. His latest film, “Doomsday,” might not be the masterpiece that “The Descent” has often been called, but it’s a fun junior effort that takes everything you loved about B-movie genre flicks like "The Road Warrior" and "Escape from New York," and rolls it into one testosterone-fueled thrill ride.
The film begins in present day Scotland, where an outbreak of the Reaper virus has led to the quarantining of the entire country. Those unable to get out are left behind to die, but before human contact is cut off forever, a desperate mother convinces a helicopter pilot to take her daughter, Eden Sinclair, to safety. 27 years later, the virus has somehow made its way into England, but when Department of Domestic Security Chief Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) is made aware that there are people still living in Scotland unharmed by the virus, he sends in an elite team led by a now grownup Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) to track down the only man (Malcolm McDowell) capable of producing the cure. What they find, however, is that the "hot zone" is livelier than initially presumed. A primitive tribe of cannibals, fronted by a mowhaked psycho named Sol (Craig Conway), has taken control of Glasgow, and they're not about to let any outsiders ruin their fun.
For a movie that’s more concerned with the next big set piece than the story or actors involved, “Doomsday” is fairly well cast. Rhona Mitra, who looks like she was cloned from Kate Beckinsale’s “Underworld” character and dumped into a film of her own (which is ironic, since Mitra has been pegged to take over for Beckinsale in the third installment of the action franchise), is perfect as the main protagonist. She’s just the right mix of beauty and badass – a British Angelina Jolie with a sexy accent to boot. The other side of the law is also well-represented by Marshall regular Craig Conway, who’s clearly having the time of his life as the nutty villain. He hoots and hollers his way through the post-apocalyptic wasteland like a young Malcolm McDowell, which is fitting, since Sol is apparently the son of McDowell’s character in the film. It’s too bad that his right-hand villainess (played by Lee-Anne Liebenberg) isn’t given as much time to shine, but her early demise more than pays off with some excellent tongue-in-cheek playfulness later on in the story.
If there’s any complaint to be made about the film, it’s that “Doomsday” lacks the focus to be a better movie. Between the “28 Days Later”-esque opening, the “Road Warrior”-inspired middle, and the Renaissance-themed detour towards the beginning of the final act, Marshall jumps back and forth between genres so much that you’d think he had ADD. Then again, this is the first time that the director has been able to do whatever he wants with the backing of a major studio, and it shows. He’s like a kid in a candy store, only instead of candy it’s filled with guns, axes, explosives and fast cars. There’s rarely a quiet moment throughout the course of the film, and that’s mostly because Marshall doesn’t waste a single minute during his cinematic crusade to blow up as much shit as humanly possible. And at the end of the day, isn’t that exactly what you look for in a movie like “Doomsday”?
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
“Doomsday” is a great film to see in HD. It’s got bold visuals, massive sound, and so much action that you wouldn’t want to watch it any other way. The Blu-ray release might not be overflowing with bonus material, but Universal has still delivered a solid collection of extras that fans will enjoy. The audio commentary with writer/director Neil Marshall and various cast members starts off slow, but the group eventually warms up to the concept before any of the really great moments take place. Universal’s Blu-ray exclusive U-Control feature contains the rest of the extras, including picture-in-picture interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, technical specs for the film’s many gadgets and cars, and Reaper Virus Files that serve as a comprehensive dossier to the people and places involved in the story.