A lethal virus spreads throughout Scotland, infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands. To contain the threat, acting authorities brutally quarantine the country as it succumbs to fear and chaos. The quarantine is successful. Three decades later, the Reaper virus violently resurfaces in London. An elite group of specialists, including Eden Sinclair, is urgently dispatched into Scotland to retrieve a cure by any means necessary. Shut off from the rest of the world, the unit must battle through a landscape that has become a waking nightmare. Written by
If food is so rare that survivors are eating human flesh, why did the infiltration team encounter cows wandering on the road? Much of Scotland is very rural highlands that would be difficult terrain for anyone on foot. During the initial breakdown in order, it is highly unlikely that the survivors would scour the whole of the country for every last single cow before resorting to cannibalism. Only a few cows would need to survive to account for the herd that is then encountered, 30 years later and numerous (cow) generations later. (However, it *is* somewhat unlikely that none of the characters felt the existence of a large herd of apparently healthy cows to be worth commenting on.) See more »
Like so many epidemics before, the loss of so many lives began with a single microscopic organism. It's human nature to seek even the smallest comfort in reason, or logic for events as catastrophic as these. But a virus doesn't choose a time or place. It doesn't hate or even care. It just happens.
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Marshall goes "all in" with a gamble that doesn't pay off but is surprisingly entertaining
A lethal virus has hit the UK (we just can't get a break, can we?) and the Government has taken the drastic measures of quarantining the infected by shutting off Scotland and part of the North of England and simply leaving it to die. In terms of those outside of the quarantine zone the measures are successful or at least it appears this way for several decades, until the virus again manifests itself in a major city. With evidence of survivors inside the quarantine zone, the authorities realise that some form of cure must have been found and dispatch a military unit led by Major Eden Sinclair, to retrieve it.
I can totally understand the bad reviews for this film and why generally it was not that well received but I think a lot of professional critics forgot that all Neil Marshall was doing was what plenty of Hollywood blockbusters have been doing for quite some time eschewing logic in favour of pace, action and spectacle. This is what Doomsday essentially comes down to a hope that the film will be sufficiently action-packed and entertaining that the majority of viewers will overlook or simply not care about the sheer disregard for logic or content. Those that like this film will generally have been won over by this approach, while those that do not will no doubt pick the film up for the very things that it deliberately omits as part of this gamble. This is not me praising or the attacking the film - this is just me observing it for what it seems to be.
It certainly is not a sci-fi rooted in reality, even if that is what the rather dry and serious opening section suggests it is going to be. It doesn't suddenly become something different though, it is a gradual drift into action silliness that starts with moments like Aliens, crosses into Mad Max 2, then into a world of swords and castles then finally into Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome. The uneven tone is a problem and it does make for a strange film that never seems sure of what it is or what it is trying to do. The main thing it appears to be going for is sheer entertainment value and, in this regard, Marshall gets close to his target but just not close enough. At times it is wonderfully silly with great action sequences that throw everything at the screen except logic. These scenes do entertain and do prevent one worrying too much about the logic of a Bentley flying down a highway in a Scottish wasteland (for example) but the film generally doesn't manage to do this across the entire film.
The swords/castle section is part of this problem, as this feels too dry and out of place to really work. Another factor is the violence. OK, I'm not a gore fan at the best of times but I'm not totally against it either. Here there are plenty of gory effects but they do rather detract from the entertainment value of the film by being a bit off-putting in just how graphic and frequent they are. This aspect is also part of the product that contributes to the uneven tone and content. The cast also struggle a little with the uneven tone but mostly they do good work albeit fairing best when the film gets into "balls-out action" stuff in the latter stages. Mitra deserves a lot of credit for her turn and it is a shame that Doomsday will not boost her career as much as she deserves. It is not that she delivers a great character, but that, as an action heroine she does all that is required by being sexy, strong, dark, fearless and attractive, and in doing it she drives the film and makes it work in a way that it may not have done without her. Alongside her the rest of the cast do not have as much to offer but are all OK. Hoskins, Lester, O'Hara, Pertwee, McDowell and others all do what is required of them good enough but not great.
Doomsday is a strange film, which wears the reasons for its relative failure all over its running time. It is uneven, illogical and rather silly, with Marshall's gamble just not paying off sufficiently. Having said that though, the film does at times hit the spot with large action sequences and great pace/energy/style and there is enough to entertain if you are in the mood and willing to forgive it its weaknesses.
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