Monday, December 28, 2009


A few weeks back, while discussing illegal immigration, a few of my more machismo boys suggested building "a giant wall, like in Doomsday!" Be reassured that I attempted to bring the conversation back to a more intellectual direction, but they kept referencing scenarios from this movie I'd never heard of with a degree of superficial reverence only teenage boys can muster. I saw that it was showing on cable, so I dvr'd it and took it on one night.

It's a loud, gory, unrelentingly stupid film. That's what I get for listening to my students. To be fair, it isn't horrible. It has its charms (likable or interesting lead characters are not among them). However, it plays like a mishmash of three or four different 80's apocalypse movies, with The Road Warrior being most prevalent, along with a dash of Escape from New York. What seemed fresh and edgy to these kids who've likely never seen the source material was hackneyed for me.

Doomsday straddles the line between wanting to be an big, suspenseful action thriller and laughing at itself, tongue firmly in cheek. Director Neil Marshall (who played it straight in the excellent The Descent) really needed to choose a side here and decide whether he was making an homage to those 80's films or just ripping off their most sensational aspects. He never quite gets there, and the result is a bloody mess.

Are you waiting for me to tell you the plot? Trust me; it doesn't really matter. The premise is that Scotland has been walled of because of a killer virus, and those left behind the wall (but immune to the virus) go all Mad Max. It's a zombie movie without actual zombies, just the dying and the insane. There's rape, cannibalism, and a stage show with pyrotechnics.

There is one truly unique, memorable aspect to Doomsday. If you like beheadings, this is your flick. There have got to be at least five or six different instances of decapitation. Some of them are posthumous, some of them sudden and shocking, and at least a couple are replete with the head still reacting after being detached or even shrieking as it flies through the air.

If that's your kind of thing, you may think this is the greatest movie ever. Twenty years ago, I'd be right there with you.

Nolanometer Final Grade: C-

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