2008 was plainly the Year Of The Awesome B-Movie. I’ve already gushed about The Mist, and now along comes Doomsday. It stars Lara Croft (no, not that one), supported by a bloke who wasn’t even the best voice actor in Fallout 3, the second most annoying Hustle cast member, the third most annoying Deep Space Nine cast member and a man who was comprehensively out-acted by a cartoon rabbit. Oh, and Sean Pertwee, whose picture is still in the dictionary illustrating the word “world-weary”. Good old Sean Pertwee.
The plot is moulded from purest Toshonium. 30 years ago, a killer virus broke out in Scotland that necessatated walling off the whole country. Now, the virus has suddenly appeared in London and it’s up to a small team of commandos to re-enter Scotland and find the only man who might have a cure. Almost immediately, they discover that the survivors beyond the wall have gone totally feral and the quest for the McGuffin goes Very Badly Wrong. From there on out, the story grows steadily more and more bonkers.
Let’s try and put this in context. The strikingly awful Matrix Revolutions was like a Shadowrun game being run by a first-time GM, with characters being railroaded from pointless set-piece to pointless set-piece to collect a string of artificial Plot Coupons. Doomsday is like a Shadowrun game being run by a veteral GM who just happens not to have had time to create an adventure. If you stop and think about it, what’s going on doesn’t make a lot of sense but the setting’s so cool and you’re having so much fun picking holes in the plot is the last thing on your mind.
With the D-list cast, ludicrous story, cheesy dialogue and hilarious costumes Doomsday seems like nothing as much as a straight-to-DVD petrol-station-rack filler accidentally given a summer blockbuster budget by some inattentive studio accountant. Director Neil Marshall (of Dog Soliders and superbly nasty, claustrophobic spelunk-em-up The Descent fame) has created an homage to trashy eighties action movies turned up to 11, then turned up a bit more to Completely Off Its Chump. It’s massively good fun, totally comfortable in its own skin, totally aware and totally unashamed of what it’s trying to be. It’s absolutely rammed to the gills with nods and references to its genre forebears – Mad Max and Escape From New York are the obvious touchstones, but in less than two hours’ running-time we picked up nods in the direction of The Warriors, Gladiator, Lord Of The Rings, Evil Dead 3, Aliens, Lethal Weapon, Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, Robocop, Excalibur and 28 Days Later. All this, and special effects that hit you like theomeny and will repeatedly get you making the same delighted wincing noise that Mike and Tim always made watching the skateboarding video in Spaced.
Doomsday. It’s running, jumping, shooting, shouting, splodes and really meaty violence just like mother used to make.