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Doomsday (DVD)

Starring: Rhona Mitra. Bob Hoskins and Malcolm McDowell show up on occasion. Everyone else is cannon fodder.

Rated: 18. (Expect blood, squishiness, graphic cannibalism and exploding rabbits.)

Story: An outbreak of a lethal (and messy) virus in Glasgow causes the whole of Scotland to be quarantined. The English throw up a great big wall and leave everyone north of it to their fate.

Thirty years later, the virus reappears in London. Desperate to obtain a cure, the Prime Minister sends a military team over the border to investigate reports of survivors.

Unfortunately, it transpires that half these survivors have had nothing to do for decades but watch DVDs of Mad Max and Escape from New York. The other half have been making armour and working on their jousting skills.

The expedition runs into trouble pretty much instantly...

Comments: The world will end in New York. Fact. I've seen it on screen so many times, it must be true. Whether it involves zombies, plague, meteor showers, giant lizards, nuclear weapons, talking chimps, unexplained giant bat monsters or thirty feet of snow, New York is going to get it first. This being the case, I'm expecting to have a certain amount of warning before the apocalypse arrives. With a B&Q round the corner, I should have plenty of time to nip out and stock up on batteries, torches and chainsaws (not to mention some soothing magnolia paint to decorate my panic room).

Or that's what I thought. After seeing Doomsday, I'm not so sure. If civilisation ends in Glasgow, I might not even have opportunity to sprinkle the driveway with bear traps before the lizard and zombies arrive and start fighting on it...

Ho well. Apart from raising the disconcerting possibility of disaster striking just down the motorway, Doomsday is rather good. It's essentially a homage to any number of stunt-heavy adventure flicks from the Eighties, combined with an extra touch of polish and quite a lot more gore than I remember. As such, its plot is wafer thin but it never takes itself seriously enough for that to matter. It's all a slick excuse for a rollercoaster of shoot-outs, car combat and sword fighting. Despite these sequences being over the top, they're not reliant on wires or copious CGI, resulting in a pleasingly solid feel.

Characterisation is limited but the cast does an excellent job with what they're given. It really is refreshing to see a fully-fledged action film full of Brits and with a British setting. Watching a chase through Glasgow Queen St station, complete with signs in Gaelic, makes a welcome change from the New York subway. (Although the layout is all wrong. The real Queen St is tiny - they'd have run out of platform halfway through.)

Don't expect genius, mind you - merely dumb spectacle and plenty of fond memories of other films. I was beginning to wonder whether they made them like this anymore...

Conclusion: It's like a greatest hits compilation of action movies from the Thatcher era (with added Glaswegians). All that's missing are some aliens and a Terminator.

Vehicles that explode on impact: Several.
Cows: Hundreds.
Nefarious politicians: Two.
Kilt-wearing Can-Can dancers: Too many.
Violent uses of a pheasant: One.

Rating: 4/5.


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