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“Doomsday (Unrated Edition)”
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Universal Home Video
Genre:
Horror
Release Date:
7/15/08
Special Features:

Commentary track by Director Neil Marshall, Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Rick Warden and Les Simpson; a trio of featurettes “Anatomy of Catastrophe: Civilization on the Brink”, “The Visual Effects and Wizardry of Doomsday”, “Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets and Vehicles of Destruction”, the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, previews

Review:

In "Doomsday" a viral outbreak threatens the residents of the UK. Isolated to Scotland, the area is quarantined and sealed off with a giant metal wall. One survivor who made it through was Eden Sinclair (Rhonda Mitra). Eden is sent back by her boss (Bob Hoskins) with a team to find out if the survivors there led by Kane (Malcolm McDowell)have a cure when there is a viral outbreak in London. They find that Scotland has reverted to savagery and that they'll be lucky to get out alive much less back with a cure. ***

A homage (or tribute if you don't want the fancy term)does many things--1)It reinvents the genre it is a tribute to 2)borrows from those films in a knowing way winking its eye in many cases 3)gives new life to what have become cliches. "Doomsday" is homage as karoke--it looks and sounds like the films it is a tribute to but often hits the wrong notes. ***

The film begs, steals and borrows from other films without breaking any new ground or being innovative in any way (or refreshing the genre). A good example of a "homage" that works is "28 Days Later" or even the "Resident Evil" films that borrow a number of ideas and make them their own. It's not a bad film just one that lacks invention outside of the production design (which itself borrows from the "Mad Max" trilogy, "Escape from New York and its sequel "L.A.", "Damnation Alley" and other flicks. ***

The cast is top notch with Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell, Rhona Mitra, Alexander Siddig ("Kingdom of Heaven", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), David O'Hara ("The Departed"),Sean Pertwee ("The Tudors", "Event Horizon")doing the best they can with the material. ***

The one thing here that director/writer Neil Marshall has working in his favor is his inventive staging of action sequences. Marshall who made "The Descent" and "Dog Soldiers" has an ability to turn a genre inside out reinventing it in the process in most cases. With "Doomsday" it doesn't quite work but it is an enjoyable ride even if we've seen all the sights before. ---

Image & Sound:

Universal has done a top notch job with the DVD (the Blu-Ray wasn’t available for preview) with a sharp looking eye popping transfer. “Doomsday” may be a bad movie (but it is an enjoyable bad movie) but it looks…good. ---

Special Features:

SWe get both the rated and unrated editions of the film on the same disc and you can choose which version to watch. Frankly, there’s not a lot of difference beyond either edition just a bit more gore and language. We also get three featurettes “Anatomy of Catastrophe: Civilization on the Brink” documenting the world of the film, “The Visual Effects and Wizardry of Doomsday” and “Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets and Vehicles of Destruction” documents the hardware of the film. ***

We also get a feature length commentary with writer/director Neil Marshall along with cast members Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Rick Warden and Les Simpson. MIA are actors Rhonda Mitra, Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell. Perhaps the lure of working with Marshall was enough to convince them to do this film but we’ll never know. ---

Final Words:

“Doomsday” is entertaining which is the least one can ask of a film. It’s absolutely derivative and doesn’t deliver on the promise that Marshall showed with his first two feature films as a writer/director. The good news for action fans is that the set pieces and homage to the films that truly inspired it (“Mad Max”, “The Road Warrior”, Escape from New York” and “Escape from L.A.”) are creatively done. Entertaining, yes but don’t mistake this for a good film.

 

 
 
 
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