Doomsday Movie Review

Doomsday Movie Review
Doomsday Movie Review

Take your pick. Or better yet, go ahead and watch the movie first just to see if you were correct, and then come back to read the review. We could both have a laugh.

Review by SAndman
July 10, 2009

Director and Writer: Neil Marshall

Rhona Mitra as Maj. Eden Sinclair
Bob Hoskins as Bill Nelson
Alexander Siddig as PM John Hatcher
David O’Hara as Michael Canaris
Adrian Lester as Sgt. Norton
Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Marcus Kane

Released: 2008

Dr. Marcus Kane: In the land of the infected, the immune man is king.

Doomsday is a post-apocalyptic movie that revolves around the outbreak and the subsequent epidemic of the so-called Reaper virus. Trust them to keep a low profile.

The place of the virus outbreak, Scotland. Or more precisely Glasgow, the date April 3, 2008. The epidemic spread like a wildfire and in a matter of weeks, whole Scotland was awash with the sick and the dying. Pretty soon the country was quarantined and isolated from the rest of the world by a steel wall built following the line of the ancient Roman frontier.

Naturally, refugees poured toward the border attempting to get across the wall only to be turned away at gunpoint. Those who refused were gunned down by guards.

In one of these raids on the wall Sinclair, the main character of the movie, not more than a nipper at the time, lost her mother and was saved only by dint of luck.

Twenty-odd years on we find Sinclair working for the DDS, Department of Domestic Security. She is tough, she is relentless, she swears like a trooper, and she is haunted by her past. Which all makes her simply irresistible. (She would probably make me eat my words, and much more if she read these lines.)

Okay, she may be a tad taciturn for my liking, but blame it on the script for not giving her more lines. Generally, she conveys more by her body language, and attitude, which she has plenty of, than her verbal skills.

Sinclair has her plate full since England is rife with crime. Predictably, since the outbreak of the disease, the island’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worst.

Though the epidemic has been contained behind the wall, at the expense of losing Scotland to the Reaper virus, England has become a kind of hostage to her northern neighbor and, impoverished and on the verge of economic and political collapse, she has been abandoned by the rest of the world.

Then one day during a drug raid in the Whitechapel district the police discover a heap of bodies in various stages of decomposition. All infected with the Reaper virus.

Doomsday Movie Review
Doomsday Movie Review

Sinclair is promptly summoned by her boss, Chief Nelson, a fatherly figure whose gruff veneer and basic decency are in stark contrast to the people he’s working for, and taken to a briefing with the sinister Canaris, a cynical and powerful high echelon government official.

Sinclair is assigned to go north beyond the wall in order to find Dr. Kane, who has lived and worked with the sick in Scotland for many years and who presumably holds the key to the containment of the disease. Dr. Kane has also been unaccounted for in quite a while, so nobody knows if he is dead or alive.

She also learns the big news – the virus is curable and the government has been in on it for some time now. Only when the evidence emerged that the London population may have been infected did they decide to act.

A team of experts has already been assembled and Sinclair is to take them into the heart of darkness that Scotland has become.

In the course of the movie you’ll get to see a lot of the staples of post-apocalypse, which may have gone a little bit long in the tooth, and witness scenes of unprecedented depravity and terror. Really, is there such a thing as “unprecedented” when it comes to movies?

Glasgow has turned into a nightmare city infested with all kinds of low life with rather lively diversions, peculiar palates, and unique taste in body paints.

By contrast, the Scottish countryside has returned to medieval-style life. However, there is nothing romantic about this. The life in the country demonstrates all the savagery and ruthlessness from the Glasgow streets and then some.

It is worth noting that there are some interesting parallels in Doomsday. For example, you basically have the three cultures depicted in the movie: tribal, feudal, and executive, the last being represented by the government officials.

On the surface, these cultures seem eons away, yet if you look closer you will see that there is the same underlying logic to them all, the same callous attitudes and utter disregard for fellow humans. And just like in case of the Glasgow streets, or the corridors of power, here in the backwoods, too, you have the big honcho who calls all the shots. Can you guess who he is?

Despite the very serious topic, Doomsday is really lots of fun. No kidding. It’s all very disgusting and yet all very superficial. Graphic images of disease in close-ups, for all the bumps and puss, have the kind of “too gross to be true” quality which cannot escape the viewer.

Honestly, as I watched Doomsday I had this feeling that it was originally slated for a high-geared vampire flick and then halfway through the shoot, the director had a change of heart.

True, the Reaper virus comes across as a genuine pain in the butt but the onset of the disease, among other things, is just too blatantly fantastical. It all happens in a matter of seconds, or rather microseconds, it’s all very unpleasant, and then it’s all over in a very operatic manner with blood splattering and bodies writhing.

Oddly enough, the human suffering, the shock, anguish, and anxiety are missing. And I don’t think it was the director’s intention to focus on this less-appealing, more gut-wrenching down-to-earth aspects of the disease.

Besides, it’s so darn obvious everybody had a blast shooting Doomsday, the stunts, extras, and actors. This goes especially for the Glasgow tribesmen. Just look at some of the guys with the faces garishly painted the colors of the Scottish flag. Pure mad joy. This in and of itself makes Doomsday more tempting than any cautionary tale the movie makers might have wanted to get across.

Doomsday is your basic muscular story with plenty of good-old’e-fashioned action (I felt as though I had lost a couple of pounds by the time the credits rolled!), no-nonsense heroine, and some of the stock images pulled out of the recycle bin dusted off and painted with a new coat of blood, gore and viscera.

Not bad for an hour and something of laid-back easily digestible fun.

And, yes, I’m pretty sure you nailed the correct answer right off the bat.


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