Sunday, March 16, 2008

Movie Review


Directed by: Neil Marshall

I went into ‘Doomsday’ expecting very little, but hoping for something campy and kinda fun, maybe some gratuitous booty shots of Rhona Mitra, and a few DECENT action sequences. What I got was something so much more.

‘Doomsday’ is a love song to every 80’s sci-fi/action genre flick with hints and flavors of so many of the best. The plot is ripped directly from these old genre flicks and slapped together. There’s nothing entirely original here. And that’s not a bad thing for once. This movie is intentionally giving a hearty nod to the classics by both imitating, reinventing, and bringing them into the 21st Century.

Rhona Mitra (the naked chick that gets raped by Kevin Bacon in “Invisible Man”) plays Snake Plis-I mean, plays MAJ Eden Sinclair, a bad-ass operator that rivals all your classic female heroines rolled into one. And she is smokingly hot to boot. What’s funny is that she has been around for a long time and this is the first time she has been put in a lead role and left to carry the film. She’s a recognizable face (and body) but has never risen above the status of “Hey, who’s that girl…she’s hot!”

Mitra is the female version of ‘Escape From New York’s’ Snake Plissken, played by Kurt Russell. The nods to ‘Escape’ begin early on in ‘Doomsday’ as the plot revolves around isolating Scotland by building a defensive wall in order to contain a deadly virus. The onscreen graphics and fonts are exactly like ‘Escape’ and had me smiling like a total fanboy. It’s little details like this that make ‘Doomsday’ a riot.

Another nod to ‘Escape’ is Mitra’s eye. When we first see her in the film she is on a mission and wearing an eye patch (a la Plissken), which again gave me the fanboy goosebumps. However, director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers) took it a step further and gave her a detachable eye which acts as a mini-video recorder and can be tossed around like a bouncy ball in order to see around corners, etc. Bloody brilliant.

Sinclair, joined up by a super trooper squad of soldiers (a nod to the colonial marines of ‘Aliens’) is tasked with finding a cure within the closed off country and returning within 48 hours before an imminent outbreak happens in the United Kingdom. Simple, uncomplicated, and a perfect fit for this kind of genre flick.

The movie is chock full of fun gore with heads chopped off, bodies run over, heads blown in half by a shotgun, a man burned alive and eaten, and even a bunny getting turned into lasagna. It’s a blast, it’s fun, it’s campy, it’s perfect. ‘Doomsday’ owns its R-rating.

When the mission goes bad and Sinclair is forced to go on the run after escaping her cannibal ‘Mad Max’ reject captors we get an interesting trip to the countryside where a band of immune humans have come together in medieval fashion, taking up residence in a Scottish castle and taken to using swords, horses, and armor, leaving technology in the breeze.

It’s a cool device, taking these characters from their ultra high tech gear and weaponry back to the middle ages and seeing how they fare. Some critics whined that this was making the movie too scattered, but I feel it gives it more depth and takes you on a more enjoyable ride.

Seeing Sinclair battle an armored knight in a Gladiator-esque match-up is great fun and really gives us another nod, namely to Time Bandits and Army of Darkness. It doesn’t last long, however, and in no time flat Sinclair is making her escape once again, this time in a brand new Bentley, just in time for the wild cannibal killers on her trail to give chase in true Mad Max fashion, rounding out the homage’s.

'Doomsday' also has some really great cinematography, really playing up the comic book elements with brilliant lighting and use of shutter speed and slow motion. I'ts nice to see the stage set so well for something that could've just been phoned in. The music score by '300's' Tyler Bates is an updated and orchestrated mix of sync, electronic, and composed tracks, once again fueling the throwback elements, mostly to John Carpenter's compositions.

The climactic car chase battle is a blast and reminded me of a Mad Max movie as directed by Michael Bay. I mean, come on, who couldn’t have fun with this? I’ve said fun way too many times in this review, but that’s the crux of it.

Many critics have complained about a non-existent plot and not enough development, etc. To that, I say go rent fucking ‘No Country For Old Men’ and stop your crying.

I mean, most people have seen the trailers and have a rough idea of what they’re getting themselves into. You can usually guess if a movie is the right fit for you. Sometimes you’re surprised, but not usually. Usually, it’s about what you expected.

‘Doomsday’ does not try to reinvent anything. It’s like a bunch of guys getting together and talking about their favorite genre flicks from the 80’s, quoting lines and citing scenes that they loved and in the end everyone saying, “Man, they just don’t make movies like that anymore.”

The sad thing is, a lot of those guys that grew up with those films, that were inspired and fueled by those films have tried (and succeeded in my mind) to replicate that work…but audiences didn’t turn out. They stayed away. ‘Grindhouse’ is the perfect example. Tarantino and Rodgriguez grew up on those same films and almost every movie they make is a throwback to them …and it’s hit or miss. ‘Doomsday’ is like another chapter in the ‘Grindhouse’ series and it’s so very sad that it will never get the proper treatment it deserves.

Anyways, I’m done crying about shitty audience turnout/choices. It’s peeved me since I’ve started to pay attention to it and it’s never changed. I am hell and gone away from the typical moviegoer and happy for it. I’ll never argue with someone who is an avid sports watcher as I don’t watch any. Just about everyone is more informed than me on that front. But, when it comes to movies, I am on my game.

I left this movie thoroughly pleased, surprised even. I didn’t expect ‘Doomsday’ to really go for it, allowing itself to be the ultimate genre nod movie. They don’t make movies like this anymore, and for some critics and audiences that’s a good thing, but what the fuck…they can have their ‘College Road Trips’ and ‘Other Boleyn Girls’ as long as I can have my ‘Planet Terror’s’ and ‘Doomsdays’.


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