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New Movie Review: Doomsday **

March 15, 2008

doomsday.jpeg

Imagine if you will a boy who after just watching Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and reading Lord of the Rings and Stephen King’s The Stand decides to play Resident Evil on his Playstation. During the game he thinks, wouldn’t it be cool if I just combined all of these elements into a movie? I won’t have to think of anything original, just rehash many of the same scenes! How cool would that be, right?

And herein lies the premise of Doomsday, the newest film from Neil Marshall. Marshall is part of the “Splat Pack” along with Rob Zombie and Eli Roth. But unlike Zombie and Roth, Marshall yields more laughs than disgust. The primary cause of this is terrible acting (although Malcolm McDowell and Bob Hoskins are the exception to this rule) and overly extended action scenes that yield little reward for the big efforts made. If Marshall had decided to make either an action film or a horror film, he probably could have turned out a nice little product, but instead he overextends himself in both directions leaving the audience bored.

Rhona Mitra stars as Eden Sinclair, the Resident Evilish badass hero of the film. In her attempts to appear tough throughout the film she manages to never make any sort of facial expression. During one of the more dramatic moments, McDowell (known only as Kane) briefly hints at his long suffering loss of his daughter, which Mitra’s character clearly is meant to be, yet the story is dropped and we are left unsure if it was just a random coincidence meant to help her connect with the other side or a mistake in the script.

Now knowing that Marshall is British and this film hints at a future with England and Scotland divided, I wonder what allegorical connections I missed in the microcosm of the savage Sinclair family unit that is brutally divided by a power struggle. Was Marshall implying some warning of an impending political rift or just building upon the history of these two countries?

However, no film can be too terrible that blows up a bunny without the camera panning away. Sam McCurdy, the cinematographer (also did Hills Have Eyes 2) pulls off a few nice shots in particular the scene when the cave lights up (where the electricity comes from I have no idea). McCurdy also borrows seemingly from Lord of The Rings movie scenes in order to take advantage of the sweeping panoramic views of Scotland. If they didn’t come so close to scenes of hobbits traveling through the hills of New Zealand, I could appreciate the lovely cinematography.

But overall Marshall’s penchant for overused one liners and little character development makes this a great candidate for the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In that aspect it is worth its weight in gold (around $8 I would say). Still, when a storm killed the power during the film, the security guard’s reassurance that the movie would be right back on brought snorts and a few grumblings from the audience of nine about caring less and “can we get a free ticket instead?” At least I know I was not alone in caring less whether they turned the movie back on or not.

This film is now playing at Malco in Oxford.

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