Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Remember the Road Warrior franchise? Somebody thought it would have been better with mass amounts of blood, some decapitations, some blood, burning someone alive, some blood, some decapitations, a weak storyline, some blood, some cannibalism, some blood, and some bloody decapitations. Hence they made Doomsday (2008), the latest in a long line of apocalyptic dystopian films serving as vehicles for political commentary.

Of course, in Doomsday there is no attempt at subtlety. Just to make sure the audience understands the political they have one of their politicos flat out say they intend to let the plague run its course to narrow down the population since there are too many people living in London.

So the plot summation is simple: plague wipes out Scotland, wall built around it, decades later the same plague occurs in London, survivors found in Scotland so combat team sent in to find cure while plague devastates London, team fights a lot, finds unexpected cure, gets it out of Scotland. Now on to the real review.

The people left behind in Scotland when the plague breaks out are victims. They were promised help. That help never comes. Now, normally this would position the survivors as heroes. They have all the earmarks of being heroes; they survive against all odds, they are kept as unwilling prisoners by unscrupulous politicians...however, in this movie they are just cannon fodder. Okay, fair enough. Who doesn't like seeing a few hundred outlandishly clad maniacs mowed down? So they provide the homage to the villains in the Road Warrior series with vehicles and costumes lifted straight out of that or out of The Postman (1997) or a host of other post-apocalyptic flicks.

Yet the heroic doctor who stayed behind to find a cure is no sinecure either. He has set up a kingdom modeled on King Arthur apparently with shades of Roman gladiatorial games. His band of killers is modeled on Vlad the Impaler, the 15th Century King who was the model for Dracula. It was pretty jarring having knights on horses roaming about, then having a one-on-one combat in an arena. So finding the hero of the piece only to find out he is ALSO a psychopathic killer and a villain...well, we were still looking for the heroes of the piece.

The British politicians are shown to have known A) there were survivors, B) there was a cure, and C) the plague would break out again. Yet they did not allow the survivors to be rescued nor the cure to be developed. Clearly they are not the heroes.

So in the end the only heroes are the small group who invades Scotland to find Dr. Kane (Malcom McDowell). Of course, all but 2 of them die, too. Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) is the centerpiece as the story follows her exclusively as one by one she loses her entire team except one guy, rescues Cally (MyAnna Buring) for her representative survivor aka cure, and then goes back to lead the cannibalistic hordes.

One question the movie leaves open has to do with why they became cannibals. There are cow herds reminiscent of the buffalo herds that clogged railroad tracks in 19th century America. Why, then, were they unable to obtain food? Of course, this is just one of many ridiculous moments in the movie. For example, in a Scotland allegedly devoid of all sources of energy for 3 decades there are lots of cards running around, not to mention a steam train. Curiously, these vehicles that have been cobbled together and look like they will fall apart if they hit a speed bump are fast enough to keep up with a brand new, out of the box Mercedes which, in turn, is tough enough to drive through the side of a bus.

So the movie ends up being an excuse for lots of people getting their heads cut off, copious amounts of blood spatters in particularly gruesome death scenes, and a pretty entertaining if nonsensical car chase.

If you really want to see a great dystopian post-apocalyptic film, I can honestly give a strong recommendation. Of course, that recommendation would be to rent the old Road Warrior/Mad Max movies...but at least you get a recommendation.

1 comment:

Al said...

Wow, why would you ever go see this movie? It's not even close to something you would have a chance of liking. Hilarious...