Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Doomsday

Neil Marshall (who wrote and directed The Descent, one of my Top Ten films from 2005) has come out with Doomsday, a post-apocalyptic tale about a virus that wipes out humanity. There seems to be a spate of such films lately (28 Days Later28 Weeks LaterI Am Legend). What's with all the virus pandemic stuff that seems to be pervading Hollywood???

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Doomsday. It's easily on my Top Ten list for this year.

The film seems to be inspired by John Carpenter's Escape from New York, with a good measure of The Road Warrior thrown in. Even the main character, Maj. Eden Sinclair (played by the sexy Rhona Mitra) sports an eye patch, just like Kurt Russell's "Snake" Plissken in Escape. I believe this was Neil Marshall paying homage to John Carpenter.

I remember Rhona Mitra from Boston Legal and, to be honest, this was one of the main reasons I wanted to see this movieI'm in love with her! In Doomsday, she reminds me of Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. There is an eery resemblance.

The story takes place in 2033, twenty five years after the Reaper virus has killed millions of people in Scotland. The British government raises a 30-foot-high, steel-clad wall around quarantined Scotland. Its airspace is a No-Fly zone...any aircraft entering Scottish airspace will be shot down. No verification required. No questions asked.

When the Reaper virus turns up in London, the British government goes into panic. They quarantine central London, condemning 12 million people to death. However, satellite IR photos show that there are survivors in the middle of Scotland. This portends a possible cure. The government sends a crack team of commandos, led by Maj. Sinclair, to go into Scotland to retrieve the cure.

The parallels between Escape from New York and Doomsday are pretty obvious. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this slightly different take on John Carpenter's story. Doomsday is certainly much more violent, with a lot more gore. (I was amused by a little bunny rabbit being blown to bits by machine gun fire from automated sentries along the Scottish wall.)

The Road Warrior aspect comes in near the end of the film when Maj. Sinclair finds a brand new Bentley in an underground storage facility. She leads a chase through long Scottish roads as a bunch of maniacal punks with weird haircuts and body piercings try to prevent the cure from leaving this no-man's land. (Of course, this raises the principal continuity error in the film:  After 25 years, how can they possibly still have gas to operate motor vehicles???)

Malcolm McDowell puts in a good performance as the leader of the survivors in Scotland. Bob Hoskins is also good as the police commissioner in London. Alexander Siddig (Syriana; Dr. Bashir in ST:DS9) has a small role as the British Prime Minister.

While the story sounds unoriginal (and it is, rather), the film is still worth seeing. I highly recommend it. The movie is more about Neil Marshall's keen sense of style and artistry, which makes it all the more visceral.

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