Sometime in 2002 I saw Dog Soldiers. I’d never laughed that much during a horror flick, and I don’t really ‘do’ horror flicks, either I have an over-active imagination or I’m just a wuss, discuss after class. Anyway, I loved Dog Soldiers and was excited at the time to hear the British writer/director (Neil Marshall) was planning to make a trio of movies. That turned into dissapointment when I heard about The Descent, I knew that I really didn’t want to watch that one.
Then earlier this year I saw a trailer for Doomsday and thought it looked fun, and only later did I find out it’s the 3rd of the trio of movies that Neil planned, and that increased my anticipation. I didn’t manage to catch it at the cinema, but after seeing the trailer, reading one review and enjoying Dog Soldiers I bought it on DVD sure that I’d enjoy it.
I wasn’t disappointed. Doomsday is an unrepentant homage to Mad Max and Escape from LA/New York, a small twist of 28 weeks/days later and a hint of Reign of Fire thrown in for good measure. It’s not a serious movie, if you’re looking for something serious you need to look somewhere else. But it’s not a comedy either, it’s just a little bit over the top, that’s all!
In the not too distant future, Scotland is struck by a deadly virus and is quarantined and locked away behind a steel wall. Thirty years pass by, and the rest of the world assumes everyone north of the wall has died. Then the unthinkable happens and the virus returns, this time in London. There’s no choice but to send someone beyond the wall to see if there are any survivors and maybe a cure.
It’s a simple story, with some very minor twists (which are pretty obvious from the outset). The script isn’t elegant but it’s engaging, didn’t make me cringe and has some funny moments. The action sequences are superb, although some of the close quarters fighting is edited with some pretty swift cuts. It adds some style but I wonder what it was used to hide. None of the characters really stand out and step up beyond the cookie cutter description of them, but it doesn’t detract a great deal, this is never billed as a character story. There’s enough empathy with one or two of the characters to feel a bit of pain when they snuff it. I would have liked the film to be about 20 minutes longer and to show a little more interaction between some of the major players, but overall thought the pace was pretty good.
It’s a huge cliche, but it’s true to say this film won’t win any awards. It’s not as good as Dog Soldiers, but it’s hard not to enjoy the Britishness of the script and the dialog. It certainly pushes home (to me at least) how American the dialog in our regular staple of movies is (I know, obvious but I felt it was worth saying).
Overall I enjoyed the viewing experience, I had a few laughs, and the imagery in the movie was like an old friend. If you like apocolyptic sci-fi action fantasy comedy heroic action movies, you’ll like this!