Friday, November 4, 2011

Movie Review: "Doomsday" by David Pretty

Greetings, Dystopians and Dytopi-ettes!

I was really quite shocked that I didn't care for this, since I'm such a fan of Neil Marshall's previous films Dog Soldiers and The Descent.  But here he proceeds under the assumption that the viewer of Doomsday hasn't seen another film made in the last twenty-five years.  What he serves up is another threadbare post-apocalyptic/dystopian vision of the future that steals liberally from about six or seven more superior films.

Hey, why not make a game out of it?  Try and see how many ripoffs you can spot in the film's trailer...

The creatively bankrupt premise: a virus outbreak in Glasgow, Scotland results in the entire country being walled up by their British neighbors.  The disease is contained but Scotland is reduced to a depopulated wasteland.  When the infection flares up again in downtown London, the Prime Minister (Deep Space Nine's Alexander Siddig) and his opportunistic Home Secretary Michael Canaris (David O'Hara of The Tudors) send tough-as-nails security agent Major Eden Sinclair (Rona Mitra) through the fence.

Her goal: to look for a cure after satellite images reveal survivors walking around.  With the aid of her boss Bill Nelson (Bob Hoskins) and a crack team of scientific and military experts, Sinclair leads them into the heart of darkness.  Needless to say, the mission goes horribly awry almost immediately and our heroes are forced to contend with overwhelming odds in order to escape.   

Doomsday might have gotten away with G.T.A. (Grand Theft Auteur) if it wasn't so massively illogical.  As audience members we're ask to swallow that the British were able to construct a modern-day Hadrian's Wall virtually overnight to prevent a single person from escaping confinement in Scotland.  Even if we're to accept this preposterous notion, we then have to accept that it would take only about fifteen years for the entire population of Scotland to either become castoff extras from Lord of the Rings or, even worse, crazed cannibalistic rejects from the set of Mad Max.

Indeed, the roll call of cinematic thievery here is unparalleled.  I really don't mind if a director wears his inspirations on his sleeve but this is ridiculous.  Just some of the  victimized films include 28 Days Later, The Road Warrior, Aliens, Escape from New York, The Warriors, Gladiator, Excalibur and, most inexplicably, Waterworld.  Honestly, this is just shameful.

With such stale material, the performances are equally uninspired.  Instead of joining the pantheon of classic kick-ass screen heroines, Rhona Mitra's character is so criminally underwritten she just comes across as the poor man's Kate Beckinsale.

Bob Hoskins is literally playing the same character he's played in a good half dozen previous films, particularly Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday.  Malcolm McDowell is similarly wasted as a generic heavy and he practically phones in his performance.  Also, I've seen David O'Hara now in a few film and television projects and I still can't figure out if he's totally brilliant or completely rubbish.  I can tell you one thing: most of his line deliveries make him sound like a narcoleptic automaton.

As if he knows that the premise and the story are a complete house of cards, director Marshall bombards us with copious amounts of raw, cruel and gratuitous violence that inevitably makes the viewer feel both numb and bored.  Since so little time and effort has been invested in making the characters anything other then stereotypes, there is very little empathy generated by their plight.

It's really a shame that there wasn't a more original and visionary engine under the hood of Doomsday since the ambitious production design and often exhilarating action set pieces are well mounted.  For example the final chase sequence at the end of the film may have been blatantly ripped off from The Road Warrior but at least it's a competent rip-off.

Next time I hope Marshall can deliver a project with a foundation of originality that's just as solid as it's visuals.  After all, it's not like he's incapable of it.  He's done it twice before!

Tilt: down.

No comments:

Post a Comment