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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW - Doomsday (Unrated)

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#1 of 14 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted August 03 2008 - 02:42 PM


Studio: Universal
Original Release: 2008
Length: 1 hour 53 mins (Unrated) 1 hour 49 mins (R-Rated)
Genre: Science Fiction Action Thriller

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Color/B&W: Color

  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 (both versions)
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (R-Rated version)

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Commentary
    Rating: R, Unrated (Let’s see – Vicious Gratuitous Violence, Cannibalism, Nudity, Language)

  • Release Date: July 29, 2008

    Rating: 1

    Starring: Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Adrian Lester with David O’Hara and Malcolm McDowell

    Written and Directed by: Neil Marshall

    Doomsday will likely appeal to many readers of this forum more than it did to me, but I must be honest in my appraisal of this film. Aside from the usually solid performances from Bob Hoskins and a grizzled Malcolm McDowell, there isn’t much to recommend here. It appears that Neil Marshall fashioned his film from his favourite movies of the 1980’s, including Escape From New York, Aliens, and The Road Warrior, with nods to Excalibur, The Warriors, and even the 1970’s epic Damnation Alley. In the year 2035 (as we’re told in titles that match the font and style of Carpenter’s film, complete with Carpenter-esque synth music), our heroine, a one-eyed soldier (c.f. Snake Plissken) is given a one-way mission into quarantined and barricaded Scotland to find a cure for a killer virus. She’s teamed up with a group of soldiers in a pair of low-riding APCs (c.f. our friends from the Sulaco, and the quest for Albany) who almost immediately come to grief from the cannibalistic local gangs (c.f. New York’s crazies, as well as George Miller’s outback gangs). I’ll refrain from discussing any more of the story, but suffice it to say, it all appears to have been lifted from earlier and more effective pictures. I really didn’t see much here that was new or innovative, other than the brutal and shocking violence that pops up every few minutes to punctuate almost every sequence. Fans of Neil Marshall (The Descent) will certainly enjoy the film, as will action fans, but more discerning viewers will easily see the seams and stitches.

    Doomsday has been released on Blu-ray and standard definition DVD. The DVD release of the past week includes two versions of the feature film – one being the R-Rated theatrical cut, and an unrated version running 4 minutes longer. I screened the unrated version, which I believe simply contains additional graphic violence past what was already on display in the theatrical cut. The disc also has a scene-specific commentary track with the writer/director, and three featurettes discussing the making of the film. If you’re already a fan of the film, these extras will certainly enhance the package for you. If you’re not a fan, they won’t covert you. As I understand it, the Blu-ray version only contains the unrated cut, so fans looking for the R-Rated version will only find it on the standard-definition DVD.


    Doomsday certainly has a terrific transfer going for it. The 2.35:1 anamorphic picture is absolutely solid, including good detailing, even in dark sequences, and solid blacks. Flesh tones look good, although everyone is appropriately dirty and grimy for much of the film.


    Doomsday is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English for the unrated edition, and 5.1 mixes in English and Spanish for the R-Rated theatrical cut. This is quite an active mix, with atmospheric effects echoing throughout the surround channels, including the requisite gunfire and explosions, but also many directional effects to boot. This is definitely not a sound mix to play late at night at full blast, unless you’re in an isolated house – but it’s great fun to play this in the afternoon. (Either way you’ll get to meet your neighbors, but in the afternoon they’ll already be awake...)


    Doomsday comes with a group commentary and three featurettes discussing the process of making the film.

  • Feature Commentary by Writer/Director Neil Marshall, with cast members Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Rick Warden and Les Simpson – This scene-specific commentary goes in fits and starts. It’s basically Marshall hanging out with some of the cast members and enjoying the film with them. (He mentions that one of them is seeing the movie for the first time.) When the guys are active, they discuss some details of the production, including various bits of trivia. (Marshall was ill with food poisoning when the production started and had to be wheeled into the set, the cigarette pack seen earlier on has the label “Collapsed Lung”, etc.) There are frequent periods, though, where the guys are just quietly watching the movie before piping back up.

  • Anatomy of Catastrophe: Civilization on the Brink (17:22, Anamorphic) – This is a standard making-of featurette, including interviews with the key cast members and crew, along with writer/director Neil Marshall, intercut with on-set b-roll footage and clips from the film. There are one or two acknowledgements of the earlier films on which this is based, but the majority of the material here presents this film as a new project. On-set footage includes the act of running over a defenceless dummy with an APC and the rigged jump through a bus by the hero’s car.

  • The Visual Effects and Wizardry of DOOMSDAY – (8:31, Anamorphic) - This quick featurette examines the CGI and bloody practical effects done to enhance the visuals of the film. We see the usual mix of film clips with the greenscreen set footage and composite elements for some of the bigger explosions and “wow” shots used in the film. There’s also a bit of detail about how to cave in a dummy’s head with a real mace. And there’s footage of how the bus jump was enhanced by fire elements and CGI to generate the climactic explosion.

  • Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets and Vehicles of Destruction (20:08, Anamorphic) – This featurette mostly covers the vehicles designed and decorated for use in the film, along with a brief description of the weapons seen onscreen and a few of the hi-tech devices. There’s a lengthy section on the design and construction of the APCs that somehow manages to miss that their design is nearly identical to those seen in Aliens. There’s another lengthy section on the vehicles seen in the climactic road chase, including a skin-covered Jaguar with skulls in the headlamp sockets.

    Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. An unlisted commentary subtitle track in English can be found by using the subtitle function on your remote. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference. When the first disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with an optional series of non-anamorphic previews including In Bruges, SNL: The Complete Third Season, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

    IN THE END...

    Doomsday is not the movie for everyone, or even for this reviewer. But I’m sure it does have fans, who will appreciate the fine audio/video quality and the brace of extras that come with it. For myself, I can’t recommend it. But I recognize there are others who will disagree with me on that score. I’ll leave it to the viewers and readers to make their own determination.

    Kevin Koster
    August 3, 2008.

    #2 of 14 OFFLINE   Aragorn the Elfstone

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    Posted August 04 2008 - 06:11 AM

    This is when I'm really thankful for Netflix. I probably shouldn't have liked it as much as I did - and definitely would never buy it - but this was really fun. Not my typical kind of movie - but for some reason it just worked for me.

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    #3 of 14 OFFLINE   James Lee

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    Posted August 04 2008 - 09:41 AM

    Wow I guess I'm different. I loved every bizarre, cheesy, loud, bloody, messy minute. Sure it rips from a lot of iconic action movies, but it works for some unexplained reason.

    #4 of 14 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted August 04 2008 - 11:36 AM

    James, there's nothing wrong with enjoying the movie, and I don't mean to say that there is. I just couldn't, for all the reasons I wrote. If people have fun with the movie, by all means go to town. I just can't go on this trip.

    #5 of 14 OFFLINE   James Lee

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    Posted August 04 2008 - 11:58 AM

    I understand. It's just that I don't think I've seen a one star review posted here before. Posted Image

    Doomsday is a very odd movie to be sure. There is absolutely nothing new or unexpected in it at all. I'm not even sure why I enjoyed it so much. Maybe because it was just so over the top and unabashedly blatant in how it rips off from other movies, which are all movies I love.

    Anyhow, it was a fair review and you did specifically point out that some people will enjoy it. Nothing wrong with personal preferences.

    #6 of 14 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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    Posted August 04 2008 - 12:53 PM

    I have to agree with Kevin, I thought this was a pretty terrible film, and I kind of liked THE DESCENT, so was expecting more.

    #7 of 14 OFFLINE   Don Giro

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    Posted August 05 2008 - 12:34 AM

    I'm of "the other mind." I personally HATED "The Descent." I rented "Doomsday" solely to ogle Rhona Mitra, who I think has the sexiest lips this side of Angelina and Scarlett. Even though it BLATANTLY rips off a bunch of other films, I LOVED it, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't "another zombie picture." I'm seriously contemplating owning the DVD...
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    #8 of 14 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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    Posted August 05 2008 - 01:15 AM

    Oh I thoroughly enjoyed it. Clearly a film made out of the love the director has of the films Kevin mentions in his review. I knew right away, when John Carpenter's favorite movie font was used for the opening credits that this was a nod of the hat, indulgent and ridiculous fun. It begins straight out of Escape from New York and then playfully savages its way through other films that seem to have impacted the director growing up. Silly and fun. About The Descent - terrific film (his best, although Dog Soldiers for me - a Brit - was a total blast. The fact that the film is so scary for so long without even a glimpse or mention of anything creature-like was very well done. Great review Kevin - even though you didn't care for it!
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    #9 of 14 OFFLINE   Brett_M



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    Posted August 05 2008 - 01:17 AM

    I, too, waited for Netflix. I enjoyed it for what it was. I thought it was very obviously a love letter from Neil Marshall to the films of the 80s. I love those films, too. There are some great kills and it had a look of its own. The budget was well spent, I thought. Perhaps a sequel will break new ground in terms of story -- maybe it will go its own way in a future iteration? Actually, it was kind of fun to keep a running tally of rip-offs from other flicks, from lifted lines to shots and sequences. That shot of the bus with the one guy hanging off, swinging a club as they pursued the heroes toward the train station made me smile. The main thing I took away from Doomsday was that it was basically EFNY. Perhaps this is why the other remake project stalled and went into turn-around? From what I've read, they're going to try again, this time with a Jonathan Mostow polish of Ken Nolan's original remake script. Take that for what it's worth. As far as I'm concerned, it's pointless now. EFNY was remade as Doomsday.
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    #10 of 14 OFFLINE   Dave Kalloch

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    Posted August 10 2008 - 12:39 AM

    Quote"Fans of Neil Marshall (The Descent) will certainly enjoy the film, as will action fans, but more discerning viewers will easily see the seams and stitches."Quote Wow. Count me as one of the not so discerning viewers. Plus, I can't sew. Maybe that works in my favor:>)

    #11 of 14 OFFLINE   Matthew Clayton

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    Posted August 10 2008 - 04:29 AM

    Shouldn't the DD 5.1 track be EX-encoded? I remember that the one-sheet for Doomsday had the "Dolby Digital Surround EX" logo at the bottom, below the cast and crew listing. Is it EX-encoded but doesn't say it on the DVD?

    #12 of 14 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted August 24 2008 - 08:48 AM

    Dave, I wasn't slamming anyone with the "discerning viewers" line - I just meant that people just looking for a fun action movie would have a good time, while people trying for something with more substance would see all the places where Marshall simply inserted moments from other films, such as the bus chase from The Warriors, the APCs from ALIENS, etc. Doesn't mean that it wouldn't be fun for an audience. Like I said, I just couldn't make it on this ride.

    Matt, from what I can tell, there is no EX encoding on the disc. I believe that may have been an error on the one-sheet. But it's still quite an active mix. As I said, you don't want to play this one loud real late at night unless you want to get the knock on the door from all your new friends in the neighborhood.

    #13 of 14 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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    Posted August 24 2008 - 05:18 PM

    Hehe I liked it too and my BD review reflects that, thats why I loooove that HTF has a staff of such diverse reviewers!

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    #14 of 14 OFFLINE   Tony J Case

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    Posted August 25 2008 - 07:02 AM

    So I've not seen the movie, and honestly I'm pretty unlikely to - so could someone answer this question. In the trailer, they talk about how this little village has The Cure, and that they have to cross the badlands to retrieve it and save the world. The thing is, when they actually SHOW the village, it's right up against the wall that's seperating the Infected from the rest of the world, right? So why dont they just drive up along the outside of the wall where there are no Road Warriors trying to kill them, climb over the wall, get The Cure and climb back over. Well, aside from that there wouldnt be any movie if they did.

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