Starring Rona Mitra, Malcolm McDowell
Directed By Neil Marshall
Neil Marshall crafted one of my favorite horror films of last year with The Descent (you have to see the UK version with the original ending) and prior to that he directed the critically acclaimed Dog Soldiers. So, I love Marshall’s work and I also love a good post-apocalyptic film when I can get one, so when I heard about Doomsday I was really excited.
It’s 2035 and the UK has been ravaged by a particularly nasty virus causing victims to change into some really familiar zombies. When London begins to fall victim to the virus the government brings in badass soldier Eden Sinclair to save the day. She and a small group of soldiers are sent into a hot zone where the virus is running rampant to find a recluse doctor that can provide a cure to the virus and save London, but it all has to happen within 48 hours. This may start to sound just a little like another film, Escape from New York.
Doomsday reminds me a lot of House of 1,000 Corpses in that it wears its influences a little too proudly. Doomsday is so much like Escape from New York I wondered if I was watching a modern more violent sequel to that film. Marshall goes so far as to even utilize a very similar score to John carpenter’s classic. Like Rob Zombie’s film though the influence changes here and there in Doomsday, shifting from Escape from New York to The Warriors and Mad Max. Those two films offer mild influence though compared to the weight that Escape from New York exerts on this film.
Being influenced by a previous work is a great thing but if your work borders on a remake then your project can become derivative. In truth Doomsday is unfortunately derivative of those previously mentioned works but at the same time it’s often so much fun I found myself not caring. In the level of violence and mayhem Doomsday is an evolution of Escape from New York too. The film is the very definition of a hard “R” rating with some pretty extreme killings. The unrated version offers an additional 4 minutes of footage but I didn’t notice any extra gore.
In my humble opinion there aren’t enough Mad Max style films out there so I found this film with all of its problems to still be a great time. You get balls to the wall action, crazy costumes and machines, a bad ass hero in Rona Mitra, and zombies too! Mitchell may actually save this film for you if you do find it too derivative because she’s so good in this role. If you’re looking for innovation look somewhere else but if you’re into an adrenaline soaked highly stylized Escape from New York/Mad Max film then look no further.
This anamorphic presentation was taken from a near flawless print with no discernable scratches or other damage. Colors look great and detail is solid. Brighter scenes feature greater detail than darker ones but the black levels look pretty good with only minor grain here and there. This film must look phenomenal on Blu-Ray considering how great this presentation looks.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is very solid and very loud. Action scenes feature great use of the surround sound environment. Dialogue comes through over the score and sound effects loud and clear throughout the film. Why not present this film in DTS? A DTS presentation might provide some of the more subtle ambient sounds missing in the few quiet moments Doomsday has to offer.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single disc release comes packaged in a standard amaray case with a slipcover. The artwork is a little on the muted side with all the black and white but the images that are in black and white do show some of the more extreme characters in the film.
There’s a feature commentary that runs on the unrated version of the film with the director and some of the cast minus Rona Mitra unfortunately. The commentary is fairly relaxed sounding like a group of friends sitting around chatting. They mostly discuss the problems with getting the film made and the violent nature of it. It’s a good listen even if it doesn’t quite go in depth as much as I’d hoped.
There are a handful of featurettes that round out the bonus features. Anatomy of Catastrophe: Civilization on the Brink covers the creation of the sandbox of an environment the filmmakers created in which to tell their story. The Visual Effects and Wizardry of ‘Doomsday is an extremely brief, at a little over 8 minutes, look at the visual effects of the film. Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets and Vehicles of Destruction is another really short featurette covering all the different devices noted by the title that were used in the film. These featurettes are all way too short to really get in depth on any of these subjects making all of the featurettes feel like marketing tools more than real bonus features. The entire group runs around 46 minutes. There are cast and crew interviews and some behind the scenes footage though.
It’s not innovative and it’s often completely derivative but it’s also super violent visually stylish and super fast paced. Doomsday is a guilty pleasure, a midnight movie that happens to be helmed by a skilled director and features a solid stable of actors to make the film come to life. Rent it first. If it hits you in the soft spot you’ll probably buy it.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 6.5/10
The Video 8.5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10