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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Doomsday

I LOVED Doomsday, the new movie at the Essex Cinema. Now before you think I’ve completely lost my mind, let me qualify that by saying that the reason I love Doomsday is because it is so god-awful horrible. It’s always more fun to write about bad movies than good because really good movies leave a person with little more to say other than “Isn’t it wonderful?” Well, those are words that nobody is going to associate with Doomsday. Maybe an eight year old would find it clever, original, and well-acted, but what does he know? Okay, he knows how to sneak into an ‘R’ rated movie where he doesn’t belong, so I’ll give him credit for that, and I’ll even acknowledge that, at eight, he probably also still thinks watching someone pick their nose is the height of sophisticated humor, but what else does he know?


This (alleged) “futuristic action thriller”, as described in its own advertising, is basically a 'Frankenstein' of movie cobbled together with bits and pieces of
Twenty Eight Days Later, Aliens, Escape From New York, Hostel, The Road Warrior, Mad Max, Damnation Alley, Gladiator, Robin Hood, and even a dollop of television’s “The Bionic Woman” tossed in to make something that is supposed to be terrifying but ends up becoming more of a game for the audience, giving them a chance to match the scenes with their original source films. In movies nobody ever say so-and-so “ripped off my old film”; the stolen-from director instead nobly keeps a stiff upper lip and generously thanks the upstart new director for ‘borrowing’ from his scenes and thus paying him such a wonderful ‘homage.’ In this case, Writer/Director Neil Marshall (The Descent) was hopefully wearing a truss throughout the process of creating Doomsday because the entire thing is one big, heavy ‘homage.’ Well, almost.

‘Homage’ would imply that reworking good scenes from excellent movies would automatically result
in something first-rate, right? It’s like when you have a couple of attractive friends who have a baby you logically expect that by combining their genes they’ll naturally give birth to a beautiful baby. Instead, when you go visit the new parents and they present you with the bundle of joy you find yourself slack-jawed to find something that resembles a potato. Well, Doomsday is Neil Marshall’s potato.

Let’s begin with the basic premise. You may remember it from Danny Boyle’s
Twenty Eight Days Later. Great Britain is in crisis. A virus is rapidly spreading which causes the infected to go mad and homicidal simultaneously. Anyone attacked by one of these “crazies” who comes in contact with their blood will sero-convert and join the growing hordes. Soon the Prime Minister and Parliament agree to quarantine the infected and a thirty-foot tall wall is “instantaneously” erected around all of Scotland, turning that country into the dumping ground for the Reaper Virus. The skies overhead become a no-fly zone and the sea around the country is not only heavily mined, but it is constantly monitored by the Navy to prevent anyone from escaping or getting in, not that anyone would want to. No offense but it is Scotland after all. And in no time, all signs of civilization are extinguished in flames and life in the land of kilts disappears.

Cut ahead thirty years to the present (our future), and London is moving along semi-normally again, although politically the rest of the globe has never forgiven England for how it handled the Reaper crisis. The current Prime Minister, Alexander Siddig of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” fame, is rocked when he receives news that during a routine drug bust the London police found some dying Reaper victims, ushering in a potential second wave of the epidemic.

So Blah, Blah, Blah, cut to the Aliens-like squad of badass military-meat meant to be expendable, oh, and when I say “meat” that’s just what I mean. They are led by our heroine, the toughest woman this side of Ellen Ripley, the singularly-named Sinclair (Rhona Mitra; Shooter), a bitter chick whose mother was stranded on the other side of the wall right after giving her baby up to a soldier in a departing helicopter. Eden (Sinclair’s never used first name) lost an eye during the scourge when she was an infant so now she is not only an amazing soldier, fighter, and markswoman, she can remove her bionic eye and have it travel around on its own like a little spy to
do reconnaissance on her behalf. How Jamie Summers-with-an-upgrade of her.

You can probably guess that the point of this team’s work is to journey into the wasteland in search of a treatment for the virus. Since satellite pictures have shown humans living on that side of the wall, the government figures that if there are living survivors after all these years, then there must also be a cure to be had.

Naturally, the survivors are of the most unpleasant variety otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a
Doomsday, at least not on this side of the wall. The leader of these fine young cannibals is a Mohawk-wearing nut-job named Sol (Craig Conway; Romans 12:20). Think of him as a youthful zealot, sort of a Texas Chainsaw Jimmy Swaggart, with the ability to work his followers into fervent raving fits of murder that would have Charles Manson standing erect and proud to be his follower. Well, he’d be erect, if not standing anyway.

For the next 75 minutes or so not much else goes on but the whittling down of Sinclair’s team as the cannibals get hungry and nastier with each tick of the clock. Of course, Sinclair does get herself
caught and tortured in what is obviously a Hostel environment and then shows her gratitude by escaping and also rescuing Sol’s sister Cally (MyAnna Buring; Grindhouse) who Sol was also holding prisoner with barbeque on his brain.

Cally helps Sinclair in her search for the cure they are seeking by taking them to the one major researcher who was working on the virus at the time of the lockdown. Dr. Kane (Malcolm McDowell; Halloween) is now living out in the middle of the woods in a castle, as the “King” amongst his group of survivors, who have retreated to a life as in the Middle Ages. Rather than treat Sinclair as a welcome visitor, I’ll bet you can guess she’s bound to be thrown in the ring to fight the biggest, baddest knight in the kingdom. She’s in a tee shirt and pants. He’s in head-to-toe armor, with a shield, sword, spear, and battle-axe (no, not my mother-in-law), and yet, I’ll also bet you don’t have to be Kreskin to figure out who will triumph.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be throwing spoilers at you, but this movie comes to the theater already
spoiled. Even during the coming attractions I could smell the stench coming our way.

So there’s other stuff that happens before the lame non-ending, but I’ll leave all the “exciting” details to those of you wanting to donate your money to the theater in lieu of seeing a good film. One warning: If you saw The Descent and got sick from the gore in that Marshall movie, you may want to consider wearing a rain slicker if you see this gusher. Blood spurts, heads pop like pimples, bodies roast like chestnuts at Christmas, and if a person can run over some part of the human body, it gets run over here. What fun. And when the dvd comes out even your eight year old will be able to watch it!

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