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Doomsday is an Ambitious Misfire

Written and directed by Neil Marshall
Rogue, 2008

Last year, promising director Richard Kelly unleashed Southland Tales, a movie of such grand scope it didn’t have time to explore all of its ideas. It covered the Apocalypse with a billion different stories and odd connections, and overall tons of confusion thrown into the mix. If it had been a series on one of the premium movie channels, it might have had time to become more coherent. It’s no surprise, however, that it’s become a cult hit.

Coming from The Descent’s Neil Marshall, Doomsday had the same kind of promise that Southland Tales did, only with a simpler B-movie storyline. However, it looks like Marshall has fallen to the same issues that got Kelly in trouble.

Doomsday looks like a number of other movies: Mad Max, 28 Days Later (sans zombies), Escape from New York, with a little 12 Monkeys thrown in for good measure. It’s 2035 London and the United Kingdom has been split in half after a quarantine from the Reaper virus, one that killed bunches of people, and those that were left behind the wall were left for dead. However, the government, led by guys like John Hatcher (Alexander Siddig) and Michael Canaris (David O’Hara), have discovered survivors, in fact have known about them for years, keeping it secret. But when the Reaper virus starts showing up again, finding out the key to their survival is important.

Military guy Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) sends one of his best nihilistic warriors, Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra, a babe who’s like Jennifer Garner minus the sweetheart) with a team of other soldiers to go find a doctor named Kane (Malcolm McDowell) who might have found the cure. And she only has 48 hours to find it. However, people are decidedly unhelpful beyond the walls…in fact they are murderous cannibals who eat people for sport.

The movie moves from the “modern” world, to a sci-fi apocalyptic world, to a fantasy-esque kingdom on the countryside. There are a lot of issues touched upon but not given much meat. Marshall fills up the movie with lots and lots of dumb action but whiz-bang camerawork. The dumb action would be OK if there were any real characters to care about in this. Eden is a tough-as-nails, don’t-fuck-with-me chick with this undercurrent that she seems to be enjoying herself, but there’s not much depth. She’s no Snake Plissken.

Marshall seems to have made the movie for sick blood splatters, both human and animal. You will see tons of carnage at the wheels of tanks and other vehicles. There’s a cool idea involving Eden’s left eye that could have been used in a lot better ways (the idea is pretty much abandoned until a plot development that you can see a mile away brings it back). A cool character is dispatched way too early. It tries to do John Carpenter all the way down to the keyboard-y score, but could have used his humor.

It had promise, but Doomsday is only for people who just need to see things die for a couple hours.


Comment from Sam Loomis
Time: March 14, 2008, 1:29 pm

So sad to hear; still planning on catching it, because as I’ve stated on this site over and over I love me some Neil Marshall. Oh, and Rhona Mitra doesn’t hurt matters. I’m sure the Snake Plissken comment is dead-on, because no but no one is as bad ass as Mr. Plissken.

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