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Review Recollection: "Doomsday" (2008)

Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.

The poster/DVD cover for the unrated cut of Neil Marshall's, "Doomsday."

The poster/DVD cover for the unrated cut of Neil Marshall's, "Doomsday."

The Reaper Virus is Upon Us

The Reaper Virus has made its way across Great Britain. The uninfected are evacuated while a wall is built in an effort to quarantine the virus and it’s worked up until now. 30 years later, the virus has broken out again. Survivors are discovered on the other side of the wall, which brings hope for a cure. A team of special forces including Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra) are sent to the other side of the wall to try to find this cure. The survivors aren’t like normal people though as they’ve become cannibalistic savages and will kill or eat anyone who stands in their way. Even if a cure is found, it’s unlikely Sinclair and her team will be able to make it back in one piece.

Doomsday is probably not the best movie. It has a 6.0/10 on IMDb based off of 66,848 user ratings and a 51 on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a jumbled mess of a film, but it’s one in which the first-time viewing a decade ago triggered some sort of happiness in the cynical brain and barely beating heart attached to the decrepit fingers that type these halfhearted reviews (writing is more important than asthmatic breathing, so just pretend you understood the sarcasm here). There’s still a fondness for Doomsday despite its reputation and a soft spot for Neil Marshall who will hopefully blow us all away with his Hellboy film in 2019. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a positive review for what is likely a nonsensical excuse of a film that is still fairly enjoyable anyway.

It’s odd that the massive number of inconsistencies in Dance of the Dead made the film practically unbearable and yet that’s half the charm of Doomsday. Written and directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers), Doomsday is a sci-fi film that has heavy elements of films you likely already love. Judging by the screenshots alone, the film already has a Mad Max and even a Beyond Thunderdome aspect to its post-apocalyptic setting. Doomsday also seems to borrow elements from films such as Aliens, Gladiator, 28 Days Later, and The Warriors.

Sol, played by Craig Conway who was also the main crawler in The Descent, is an extremely violent and hardcore character. Sol is always seething with anger; with that kind of passion and energy he tends to steal nearly every scene he’s in. He pales in comparison to Rhona Mitra’s Sinclair character though. She doesn’t seem to care about anything and always manages to find a way to get out of whatever situation she finds herself in. Back in 2008, Sinclair came off as one of the fiercest and most dominant female on-screen characters that a 24-year-old rookie film critic had ever come across.

Rhona Mitra as Eden Sinclair in "Doomsday."

Rhona Mitra as Eden Sinclair in "Doomsday."

Watching the way the savages live and what they do to survive is disgustingly mesmerizing. Malcolm McDowell puts in a convincing performance as Kane. You hear him more than you see him over the course of the film, but his words are felt rather than just heard. Bob Hoskins is rather tame as Sinclair’s boss Bill Nelson. Neil Marhsall had the intention of having Hoskins mimic his bulldog role from The Long Good Friday, but he mostly sits on the sidelines while Sinclair does all of the dirty work.

Doomsday has an impressive amount of gore and the scenes in which all hell breaks loose are the most fun. Witnessing the battle sequences, the deaths, and especially the car chase at the end makes Doomsday a worthwhile experience. One could make the argument that Doomsday is a chaotic mess that can’t pick a genre and stick with it for longer than a few minutes at a time, but it’s also difficult to take that to heart when a film is this much fun. It may have an A.D.D. method of filmmaking, but at least you’re never bored and the film manages to hold your interest and entertain you from beginning to end.

Lee-Anne Liebenberg as the wild Maruader known as Viper in "Doomsday."

Lee-Anne Liebenberg as the wild Maruader known as Viper in "Doomsday."

Doomsday won’t be for everyone, but it’s a wild, bloody ride at its core and it’s incredibly easy to enjoy the film as a one hour and 45 minute thrill ride in the vein of Mad Max: Fury Road. Horror, science fiction, and action collide along with a massive amalgamation of outbreak, post-apocalyptic, and medieval storylines in the utterly blood-soaked pandemonium known as Neill Marshall’s Doomsday.

Doomsday is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play for $2.99 and iTunes for $3.99. It’s also currently free on Amazon Prime with Starz and Prime Video Channels. The Multi-Format Blu-ray is $9.81 on Amazon while a two-disc Blu-ray packaged with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s End of Days will set you back $34.98. The DVD is available in brand new condition with free shipping for $6.02 on eBay while a pre-owned Blu-ray is $4.99 with free shipping.

© 2018 Chris Sawin


Keith Abt from The Garden State on June 19, 2018:

I enjoyed this movie. As you said, it doesn't have an original bone in its body but it is a ton of ultra violent fun!