Saturday, May 21, 2016

Doomsday


   There's some movies that you can't even describe without listing all the movies it's clearly inspired by. In this case, Doomsday is clearly The Road Warrior meets Escape from New York with a dash of 28 Days Later thrown in for good measure. But, for a movie nerd like me, I was noticing references and throwbacks to so many other movies. Director Neil Marshall keeps cranking out consistently entertaining movies, and Doomsday is no except. So what if it rips off a ton of other movies? It's still a blast. There's no need to start a debate about homage vs rip-off, because rip-offs used to be awesome and in my humble opinion, Doomsday is the last great rip-off.
 
   It's made by a guy who's so very obviously a fan of sci-fi/action/horror movies in general, and decided to make his own movie, assembled from the spare parts of a bunch of other classics. Which is fine. It's just that nobody appreciates rip-offs anymore. Go back a decade or two, and you'll find that Roger Corman was cranking out rip-offs left and right, and nowadays those movies are watched with fond affection by fans. Fans who are obviously aware that Forbidden World and Galaxy of Terror are Alien rip-offs. Deathstalker was cashing in on the Barbarian craze. Battle Beyond the Stars and Star Crash were cleeearly Star Wars rip-offs.

   But all those movies I just mentioned have become cult classics for many different reasons. People say, oh, Forbidden World might be trash, but the gore effects are legitimately impressive. Well, yeah. They are. Doomsday has bits like that. It does everything it does exceptionally well even. It's an over-the-top bloody, gory, crazy, balls-to-the-wall action flick. It's not even trying to be original, it's just trying to entertain. And, it does that with gusto. So what, all the characters are pretty two dimensional? So what the story is just an excuse for craziness? So what if it's frequently impractical and silly? Who cares? Not me.

   The movie unleashes perfectly crafted chaos on it's characters. Legions of punked-out extras flood the sets, whooping and hollering, waving around swords, saw blades, bats, pipes, knives, and everything else. Our heroes have a mission, something to do with finding the cure for a virus inside this quarantine zone. It feels so familiar that you don't even need to pay attention to the story, only the action. This is an "Oh, shit!" movie. Something to put on at a party that can keep peoples' attention in short bursts. A hot kick-ass woman driving a Bentley through a post-apocalyptic countryside in Scotland? Okay. I need no more context, no more information. This is fine.

   The movie is one massive action packed set piece after another, with some of the craziest villains you'll see in a post-apocalyptic setting outside of Mad Max: Fury Road. In fact, I kept expecting the main villain, Sol, to call for his war boys, or shout "Witness me!" Alas, wrong movie. But not by much. Doomsday was nearly prophetic in it's adrenaline fueled depiction of these post apocalyptic crazies. This movie was on speed, certainly getting a buzz off the fumes of The Road Warrior, and then cranking it up even higher. The movie moves faster, hits harder, yells louder. This is something that Fury Road would perfect, and even make it look elegant.

   Doomsday isn't elegant. It's fast and dirty. Trashy... but, oh so fun. The settings are wildly different. A city that looks like it came straight out of a zombie movie, a post apocalyptic Colosseum, and a friggin' castle. Yes. A big, old, Scottish castle. This is all in one movie. Car chases, horse chases, a gladiator fight, shootouts, sword fights, the works. Doomsday has it all. It's absurd overkill, but in the best way. The seams of the story are pretty visible, but there's still a lot of fun to be had even if you do pay ardent attention to the characters and the plot.

  Star Rhona Mitre plays the requisite badass hero (who occasionally wears an eye-patch... ahem...) and she does the best she can with what she has, but when she's supposed to be channeling guys like Snake Plissken or Max Rockatansky, how much depth and range can you expect? Damn. In their most famous incarnations, both characters were stone-faced anti-heroes who let their guns and/or fists do the talking. This is the kind of character Mitre is playing, and for what it is, she plays it well. Malcolm McDowell shows up as an insane warlord-type for a few minutes, chewing as much scenery as he can, while he can.  But, the real scene stealer is whoever was playing Sol, because that character was demented and zany as hell. So much fun.

   The movie was everything I wanted it to be, coated in lots of blood and gore- which is even better. This movie went mad crazy with the gore, I loved it. It's a blast. A simple, straight-foward, high-octane, thrill ride. Babes, blades, bullets, blood, and a Bentley. Doomsday isn't original, or even 'good' in the scholarly sense of the word, but it's well crafted entertainment and I had a ton of fun watching it. Recommended if you feel like you wanna see not-Kate Beckinsale kick ass in a not-a-Mad Max movie.

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