Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Movies That Suck: Doomsday


Warning: This post contains spoilers for a movie that you should never want to see ever

While I realize that any apocalyptically-themed motion picture requires its intended audience to suspend their disbelief in order to accept the basic premise (asteroid headed toward earth, deadly virus outbreak, the re-emergence of tight-rolled jeans) I do expect that the events that occur within that premise should still be vaguely compatible with logic.
It is for this reason I was highly disappointed in the 2008 Neil Marshall creation Doomsday. Hailed as a visionary for his 2005 film The Descent, Neil decided to try his hand at combining Mad Max and 28 Days Later into a futuristic sci-fi apocalyptic fantasy set in Britain. The plot is as follows:
A rather unpleasant ailment (known as the “reaper” virus) has ravaged the continent’s populace. In an effort to contain the outbreak, the government has built a re-enforced steel wall that bisects the country in order to permanently segregate the sick and healthy until the disease runs its course. Thirty years later, the disease re-emerges and a team is sent over the wall to locate survivors and seek a cure.
At this point, the narrator informs us that the survivors on the abandoned side of the wall have slipped into social chaos and turned to cannibalism, murder, rape, and loosely-governed games of four-square. While despicable, such behaviors are believable within the circumstances outlined by the narration and have been reinforced by past apocalyptic classics such as Stephen King’s The Stand and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Neil’s portrayal of them, however, is far from believable.
The majority of the male residents are clean shaven – While I am not a sociologist, I can assure you that once the strictures of modern society dissolve into chaos the very first habit men will forgo is shaving. I can barely bring myself to do it now, let alone when I am constantly fighting for my very survival. This is a pitfall of almost every post-apocalyptic film.
Once the government collapses, cannibalism becomes rampant – While cannibalism is not unheard of, it almost always occurs when a person is afflicted by ravenous hunger and unable to locate an alternative food source. In this film, the survivors are inundated with herds of cattle and concentrations of dairy cows and yet still prefer eating their neighbors. Perhaps I speak for myself, but if given a choice between a Black Angus cheeseburger and the seared flesh of a malnourished plumber; I am most likely to lean toward the cheeseburger.
Bad Medical PR – This is just a suggestion, but when an administration wishes to reassure the public and maintain order in the face of a new disease, it might be best not to call it “The Reaper Virus.” Might I suggest something less threatening like “The Snuggle Virus” or “Tropical Sunshine Syndrome.”
All villainous characters sport elaborate Mohawks, professional quality tattoos, and leather garments – It is unlikely that any survivor, regardless of gender, would select a high maintenance hairstyle that made them easier targets for the illogically cannibalistic groups of wandering vagrants. It is even more unlikely that those surviving for long periods without proper hygiene would wish to expose themselves to the epic chaffing of leather pants for the sake of fashion.
Worst Military Equipment Ever – The” team” is equipped with a pair of advanced (keep in mind this is 2030) armored personnel vehicles that are impervious to ground attack. Within eight minutes of their being placed into service, a mohawked thug shatters the armored windshield with what appears to be a garden tool and both vehicles are immobilized by a Molotov cocktail and a homemade bow & arrow.
Those villainous characters that do not sport elaborate Mohawks have regressed to the 1600’s – The other survivors have taken to hosting jousting tournaments and riding horses through the countryside like extras on a Ridley Scott film. Apparently the metal wall caused the survivors to forget that the Industrial Revolution took place and equestrianism experienced a powerful resurgence. 
I have only scratched the surface and for those brave enough to give Doomsday a coveted spot on their Netflix que there is even a scene where a brand new Bentley is unable to outrun or outmaneuver a homemade vehicle that is primarily composed of an El Camino frame and two used mattresses.  But perhaps the biggest flaw is that for thirty years, no one has breached an unpatrolled metal wall that spans hundreds of miles of remote landscape. Apparently the first victim of the “reaper” virus was logic and reason.

This film is rated R for illogical violence, moderately dramatic use of the phrase “bollocks,” and a scene of implied government efficiency. 

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