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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Doomsday

No, no, no, it's all gone wrong. Well, okay, before I go off into a rant, I'll just give a brief summary and praise the little qualities that the film has. Okay, lead character played by Rhona Mitra leads a group of soldiers to go into Scotland, which has become host to a terrible virus, causing the city to be completely walled up, a la Escape From New York, in order to find Dr Kane, played by the great Malcolm McDowell, who I can never praise enough. What follow is lots of blood, amputation, decapitation, fetishes of the worst kind, explosions, car chases, cannibalism and all sorts of horrible nonsense. All right, from the start, the good is that from the 15-40 minute mark there is a genuinely intriguing and interesting section of a film, with the whole Escape From New York, post-apocalyptic stuff all going very well. The production design in this section is top-notch, creating a legible and believable world. Also, I must give a certain degree of praise to Craig Conway, who plays Sol, the leader of the new order of Scotland's crazies. Yes, it is certainly not a great performance, but it is certainly the best in the film, bringing to mind that of Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys. This is a perfect example of why the film is all wrong. The fact that I genuinely preferred the character of Sol than that of Rhone Mitre, who seems to be a bit of an annoying, girl power Lara Croft-type and even Malcolm McDowell, who comes across in this film as a bit of an asshole, and that is low considering my admiration for his great skills as an actor. Also, like McDowell, Bob Hoskins merely does what is necessary for his character, but nonetheless comes off the better side of the spectrum. Okay, here I go. For a start, the main character, played by Rhona Mitra, who I just remembered was in fact a former model for Lara Croft, is poor in this film. Marshall has clearly picked the wrong person for this role. If she is to play the lead protagonist of this film, she could at least remind us, despite the fact she is meant to be a tough character, that she is indeed a human character, with little subtleties and human emotions, rather than coming across as a block of wood. Also, there is no real character development. For example, in the case of Rhona Mitra's character, there is an attempt to show, "oh, it's a film about redemption," and at least Marshall attempts this, but this plank of wood Rhona Mitra makes no changes in her character throughout her portrayal, despite the fact that it is meant to be a person evolving over the course of the film. In this development too, in comparison with The Descent, in which Marshall spends almost an hour developing character before giving us a terrifying film, in this he spends a five minute introduction for the Mitra character and an extra ten for the rest. Also, my other main problem is that Marshall seemed to get too distracted with the idea of paying tribute to the films he loves than directing his own film. For example, as I mentioned, the 15-40 minute section is all directed and created wonderfully with conviction, and yes, I did buy the excessive and ridiculous blood and gore, because Marshall does it well and with conviction. I did genuinely enjoy this section of the film. However, in homage to what I assume is John Boorman's Excalibur or Gladiator or Flesh and Blood etc. he brings the story to the Highlands of Scotland, eventually finding Kane, where for a good bit it all goes medieval swords and shields, bladddy blah. This sidetracking shows to me that Marshall has indeed lost focus, and instead went all boring. I am glad that he made a film which he clearly seemed to relish making (the film does have that sense), in great comparison to M. Night Shymalan's recent offering, let us speak no more of. However, in the course of making a film which he enjoys, I believe he sacrificed the audience enjoyment. I believe that most people will enjoy the first forty minutes because it is original and something that is rarely seen onscreen (and done well) today, but once it all goes Braveheart everyone will just go to sleep, because of the overdose of early noughties sword-and-sandals flicks. Those who remain in the cinema after that will see an extended car chase which shows that, despite being well shot, is in a sense, just a ludicrously expensive pacifier for the forty year old man-child that is Neil Marshall. Don't get me wrong, I think that Marshall is a great director, with a flair for action and horror film, with a great career ahead of him, however, his self-indulgence in the films that he enjoyed as a child and the lack of proper focus and structure in his script cause this to be a real misfire for one of British cinemas most promising directors.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.4/10

On The Topic Of Doomsday

Why is Rhona Mitra in a Neil Marshall film?

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