Sunday, May 11, 2008

DOOMSDAY - Mad MacMax!

Being but a mere butler, you will not know the great theatre tradition that one does *never* speak the name of the Scottish PlayDOOMSDAY is a modern version of those creaky dystopian disaster movies like MAD MAX.

In 2008, a deadly virus starts killing thousands of people in Scotland. The British government panics, rebuilds Hadrian's Wall and leaves the Scots to die, thus containing the virus. But the internationally community shuns England for its callous actions and, thirty years later, in an over-populated London, The Reaper threatens to break out again. So the government sends a crack team into Glasgow to capture the immune survivors that will provide a cure.

The movie starts well. Dystopian England is suitably rain-swept and filthy. Bob Hoskins' Chief of Police only has to speak in his grainy, cockney accent and we know we're in for a rough time. He dispatches a skin-tight suited and booted Rhona Mitra to Scotland to hunt for the cure. So begins some cool action sequences with tooled-up government agents fighting off retro-futuristic savages Thunderdome-stylee. Craig Conway, in particular, is superb as the gonzo rebel leader, serving up flame-grilled soldier to his slavering followers.

Problem is, the movie shifts down a gear for the middle sequence in which the soldiers flee Glasgow in pursuit of the Colonel Kurtz-like surviver, Doctor Kane. Despite featuring the legendary Malcolm McDowell, lording it over a re-created Medieval court of the immune, these scenes seem a bit calm and, well, dull, after the Glaswegian punk carnage. After the flame throwers and grenades it all goes a bit lo-fi Robin Hood. Even a decent chase scene featuring a gorgeous Bentley doesn't quite restore the movie to its earlier brilliance.

So it's a bit of a mixed bag. I DO like a film that'll show a bunny rabbit being blown up and a man spit-roasted for kicks. But the thin attempt at political critique and the weedy hint of a love story were weak beyond belief.

DOOMSDAY was released earlier this year in the US, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Thialand, France, the Philippines, Kuwait, Icleand, Poland, Egypt, the Netherlands and Singapore. It is currently on release in the UK, Belgium and Norway. It goes on release later in May in Hong Kong and Finland. It foes on release in June in Germany, South Korea and Slovakia and in July in Japan and Spain.

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