Post Apoc Action
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8th Sep 08
Bob Hoskins sends a sexy chick and a few marines into a post apocalyptic Scotland ruled by Malcolm McDowell. Get in.
Sometimes when you go to the cinema, do you ever feel like the movie you're watching has been made just for you? It doesn't happen that often I'll bet, and the sensation certainly doesn't happen anything like as often as it used to back in those halcyon days of the action movie 80s(forgive my nostalgia), but every now and again I'll wager you still feel it. When Josh Brolin squeezes the boil on that guy's tongue in Planet Terror, did you cheer? Did your jaw hit the floor in the Love Love Beam sequence of Wild Zero? Will 'Snake Pliskin? I thought you were dead!' ever get boring? Does 'Get away from her you bitch!' still send a shiver down your spine? Do you still say 'It's all in the reflexes...' when you accidentally pull of some kind of brilliant dextrous feat? Do you still say ‘I’ll be back!’ in a deep, Austrian accented voice every time you pop to the corner shop? And how many times have you watched the battle of Yavin, and then spent all day the next day spouting lines like 'Look at the size of that thing!' and 'Cover me Porkins!' while your lady friend roles her eyes?
Okay, maybe that last one was pushing it, but you get the idea. The point I’m trying to get it here as that movies made for proper action fans, sometimes even by proper action fans, are a much rarer breed than they used to be. There’s too much studio intervention these days, too much pandering to the teenage cinema going market and not enough real action. You know, that sort of action that makes you go ’Wow, that gotta hurt!’ not that CG assisted lameness that we’ve seen so much of recently. And if you agree with me on that score you might just love Doomsday, which is a return to the crunching balls-out action flick of yesteryear, and not before time!
Twenty-five years ago (back in old 2008), a viral outbreak north of the border of the deadly reaper virus forces the British government to quarantine all of Scotland by building a massive wall around it, and they effectively throw away the key. One of the last survivors to make it out before the doors are sealed forever is young girl named Eden Sinclair who, cutting to the present day, has grown up to be a sassy and sexy but tough as nails infiltration specialist for the new government police force. When the virus returns, this time in the overcrowded squalor that London town has become, she’s the only person Bob Hoskins can think of to lead a crack squad over the wall to investigate satellite sightings in Glasgow of people wandering around. Twenty-five years after walling the place up, survivors have been sighted. And if survivors have been sighted, there must be a cure. And she’s only got 48 hours to find it or they go with plan B, which is to open the flood gates and let London drown.
That’s the back-of-box style blurb representing the plot of the film, but if you’re looking to deconstruct this baby into simple playground terms, it’d be something like this. Take a hard-assed bitch lead character with one eye, a sexy bob haircut and a skin tight outfit, and call her Major, a bit like The Major from Ghost in the Shell. Then give her a cigarette scrounging ‘special move’ catchphrase, just for good measure. Add Bob Hoskins in the Lee Van Cleef role, charged with giving her a crazy suicide mission behind a walled, lawless land, a lot like in Escape From New York, and add her to a squad of charismatic marines who all have their own little idiosyncrasies and a cool APC which looks, and acts, a lot like the one in Aliens. Then take this whole squad out of the diseased ridden London (which strongly reminds you of 28 Weeks Later) and send the lot of them over the wall into the lawless, ravaged Scotland, ruled by crazed punks that ride around on dirty post-apocalyptic bikes and cars with spikes, chains, severed heads and some prisoners tied to the front, just like in the Mad Max movies, and throw in the sub plot involving the maniacal Kane, played effortlessly by Malcolm McDowell, and his bizarre Medieval castle set up. He plays the part in the style of Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, although I also couldn’t help but think of King Arthur and the Spaceman, so I’ll let you work that one out for yourselves.
Which is, of course, the real trick; what exactly do you want to see at the cinema these days? Do you want to see something thought provoking and original? Do you want to see a movie so intoxicated with CG that it can’t walk in a straight line? Or do you want to something a bit rougher, a bit readier, and something that has literally borrowed bits of all your favourite post-apocalyptic action movies ever? I mean, come on, what do you guys want? Doomsday is a loving reminder of all the movies we grew up with, and a very well made one at that. Rhona Mitra doesn’t miss a trick as Eden, and the ensemble cast of players from Marshall’s previous two films, including a cameo from the often underused Sean Pertwee, who has a very sticky end here (and also accidentally elbowed my wife in the head at the premier for The Descent, although he was very apologetic), do a great job. Similarly, Marshall’s director of photography also worked on his last two films and it shows, the sense of familiarity as the movie progresses is quite obvious, and he does an equally accomplished job here. And lest we forget the scoring, which is at times inspired (Two Tribes go to War? The Fine Young Cannibals? Brilliant.)
At the end of the day, though, I guess it’s all up to you. This movie is a homage to all those early 80s movies I’ve mentioned, and also a tribute, and it’s quite clear that everyone involved in the project is having a great time, meaning the finished product is a joy to watch. In a packed festival cinema this could easily bring the house down, and fingers crossed it has the same effect in multiplexes across the country. Whether the general cinema going public will get a lot of Marshall’s genre in-jokes remains to be seen (the Prime Minister having a gun exactly like that of The Lord Humongous’s from Mad Max 2 being my favourite), but they’re more a bonus than anything so let’s not dwell on that too much. The only real concern, in fact, is how this movie is received by the high brow press and all those movie flaming web sites, ‘movie poop shoot’ style. If you had a sour face on I’m sure Doomsday could be conceived as an unoriginal regurgitation of the action dross that infected the early 80s like a disease, and if that is your opinion then I’m sure there are a few romantic comedies and period dramas out there with your name all over them. And good luck to you, they say one man’s drink is another man’s poison, and if this is poison I’ll happily drink it any time. I haven’t cheered so much and kicked the seat in front of me so much in quite a while (it’s okay, no one was sat there!)
So look at the size of that thing, I’d buy that for a dollar, we’re gonna need a bigger boat, the cheque is in the mail, Luke you’ve switched off your targeting computer what’s wrong, and if you're hungry try a piece of your friend. Oh, and get away from here you bitch and I’ll be back, particularly if Neil Marshall’s at the helm again, that’s for sure.
Versions Out at the cinema now, although an unrated DVD is coming out Region 1 at the end of July with 4 extra minutes. The preview version we saw however was very gory indeed, so God knows what those 4 minutes will bring us.