Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I’m all for this. We ran a fairly scathing review from a test screening of DOOMSDAY, the new post-Apocalyptic thriller from Neal Marshall, director of DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT. I’m a fan of this guy’s work, and I am certainly hoping that it’s better than the last spy suggested. Evidently, someone else who saw this early test screening was unhappy with what they read here, and they sent in this report. I remain eager for our first look at the film sometime soon, hopefully:
Hi there Harry I've never written a review for this site before. Come to think of it I've never written a review before. Today I do so to correct what I see as a bit of disservice to the movie DOOMSDAY, which seems to be getting a pummelling from various 'spies'. I too have seen the film, and while I didn't think it was the second coming, it was a hell of a lot more fun than the previous reviewer has made out. Firstly I should say that I'm a fan of Marshall 's previous films DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT. But more importantly, to put this review in context, I'm a fan of early John Carpenter movies. More importantly, because this is what DOOMSDAY feels like. It's a 'movie-lover's' movie. It wont be for everyone and some of the jet black humour is likely to upset and alienate the casual viewer, but make no mistake.... It's great. I wont bother with too much of a synopsis as the previous reviewer all but re-enacted the film with glove puppets. A new category of 'spoiler' has been created just for him. It's all about what happens after Scotland (not on the border with London as previously thought) is quarantined when a deadly virus, The Reaper, begins it's seemingly unstoppable rampage across the country. Hadrian's wall is 'rebuilt' and Scotland is walled in, cut off from the rest of Britain . Years later a team, lead by Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) re-visits the hot-zone to find a cure for the virus after it reappears in London . Satellites have shown there is movement in the cities so maybe everyone isn't as dead as previously thought. No, it's not a '28 DAYS LATER' zombie movie. It turns out the survivors have an immunity that could have come from the mysterious Dr. Cain's 'cure'. What's more they've divided into rival gangs. Cue action scenes. Ok, first the good stuff. If you love 80s action movies then book your ticket for this baby now. Fans of the genre can look forward to a thrilling ride through their favourite films as Marshall 's grab bag style takes us from 'Mad Max' to 'Escape From New York', via 'The Warriors'. Much has been made of the similarity to 'Escape' in plot terms, but I had to chuckle a little when the graphics used to show the wall being erected were almost exactly the same as the ones Carpenter used in the 80s. This is what I think really works about 'DD'. Marshall credits you with some taste and expects you to have a knowing giggle as he throws film references your way with abandon. The action scenes themselves are fantastic. The introduction, which sees the orphaned Sinclair blinded in one eye, nearly brought a tear to mine. The climactic chase (which comes after a dizzying succession of set-pieces) feels like a scene from a Mad Max film you never saw. Car to car jumps. Flips and crashes. All done for real. Old school baby! That's right, none of that CGI business, just decent full on car stunts. And yes, it's better than 'DEATH PROOF'. The supporting cast are pretty good. Bob Hoskins has a small but useful role and some of the 'DOG SOLDIERS' crew pop up again. Best of these, by far, is the guy who played 'Spoon'.(can't remember his name) He plays a very different character, but gets some big laughs, especially at the end during the chase. McDowell is as hammy as ever, but what did you expect? He's been doing the same performance in every film from 'GENERATIONS' onwards. Still, Marshall knows how to use him. Siddig is great in another small role of the Prime Minister. The guy who plays the villain with a big mohican wasn't someone I recognised, and when he first appeared I thought he was going to be unbearable. However, he turned out to be one of the most fun characters. His scene dancing in front of the gangs in a futuristic style rave, being one of the film's highlights. Also there is an actress who has tattoos on her face playing his girlfriend. Not sure who this was, but for my money she stole the film, in a virtually silent role. The best thing about the movie is the direction. Marshall doesn't go for flashy Rob Zombie type, camera waving or BOURNE ULTIMATUM, wobbly, crash, bang, edit, wallop. Often the shots have TWO PEOPLE in them. Imagine that hey? Rather than giant close ups of the actors faces and hand held shaking, a film where you can actually see what's going on in the action scenes. It's this respect that brings it closest to being like a Carpenter movie. I don't dislike Rob Zombie or Ultimatum, but it's refreshing to see someone not just following the crowd. Now the bad stuff. The 'bad' in this film can be neatly summed up in two words. Rhona Mitra. The film calls for a strong lead. A female Snake Plisskin. And this isn't Mitra. She wanders from bored-looking to unbearable, throughout the film. One sequence, a Gladiator style battle with a Darth Vader armoured bad guy, is utterly ruined by the obvious stunt double and Mitra's utter lack of physical commitment in her few close ups. She looks like the recoil from her gun could snap her in half, let alone the many perils she faces in this film. With a stronger lead the film could have been great, rather than just good fun. Also, the genre mash-up style isn't going to be for everyone. I can see people having a problem in particular with the film's sudden lurch into medieval territory. Personally I loved the bizarre change of pace, which left me guessing what the film would do next, but let's face it, most people want McDonald's movies. All the same and shrink wrapped to be neatly labelled. Does the film ever become more than the sum of its parts? When you've had your fun spotting all the references to other films will you wonder what was 'original' about this one? Well ask yourself, how many films this year are going to have an old school car chase, a 'warriors' style attack on armoured APCs and futuristic soldiers confronted by the sight of a knight on horse-back?. You've got to respect the guy just for the sheer balls of putting together this monster mash of styles. Yes it's love it or loath it stuff, but that's the point. And I loved it. So there you have it. To sum up, not the greatest ever film, but a bloody good night out at the movies for any fan of the genre. Hope this goes some way to redressing the balance. Call me 'COOPER' if you decide to use the review.