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In the action-packed new thriller Doomsday, authorities brutally quarantine a country as it succumbs to fear and chaos when a virus strikes. The literal walling-off works for three decades -- until the dreaded Reaper virus violently resurfaces in a major city. An elite group of specialists, captained by Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra), is urgently dispatched into the still-quarantined country to retrieve a cure by any means necessary. Shut off from the rest of the world, the unit must battle through a landscape that has become a waking nightmare.
For more about Doomsday and the Doomsday Blu-ray release, see Doomsday Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 18, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rhona Mitra, Bob Hoskins, Adrian Lester, Alexander Siddig, David O'Hara, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Neil Marshall
» See full cast & crew
Doomsday Blu-ray Review
Gratuitous violence and over-the-top stunts make for a genre fan's delight.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 18, 2008
A virus doesn't choose a time or place. It doesn't hate or even care. It just happens.
I couldn't help but to be excited when I first saw the trailer for Doomsday several months ago. Not only was the film directed by one of my favorite up-and-coming directors, the English-born Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), but it looked to be a cross between several post-apocalyptic favorites, including I Am Legend, The Road Warrior, and 28 Days Later with a slick, futuristic twist. On top of all that, the film starred the likes of the legendary Bob Hoskins (Nixon), Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), and Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange), a primary cast not necessarily composed of the most common of household names, but actors who can and have held their own for years, and whose screen presences may not be larger-than-life, but they more than make up for their lack of familiarity with the most general of audiences with their first-rate acting abilities. For me, Doomsday brought everything to the party that I needed to virtually assure me of a great time, and after screening the film for the first time on Blu-ray, a great time indeed was had.
In the future, Scotland has been quarantined from the rest of Great Britain after an outbreak of a deadly pathogen know as the Reaper Virus which spread like the common cold and for which there was no cure. A wall was built to quarantine the country. Scotland's coastal areas were mined, and its airspace deemed a no-fly zone. Those unfortunate souls stranded in the quarantined zone were left to perish, and it became a hell on Earth. Now, in the year 2035, the virus is back, and it has spread to London. The only hope to save the city lies in a band of survivors a satellite has detected in Glasgow. A team of soldiers and scientists, led by Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra, Shooter), will infiltrate the quarantined zone and search for Dr. Marcus Cane (McDowell), a scientist left behind to work on a cure. Instead of a dead city with a small cluster of survivors, the group discovers in Glasgow a band of barbaric cannibals, known as Marauders, hungry for human flesh and blood, unaffected physically by the virus but degenerated mentally from its effects around them. Through the chaos, Sinclair and her team must fight for survival while still attempting to complete their mission of locating Dr. Cane and, hopefully, returning to London with a cure for the Reaper Virus before it's too late.
Doomsday may not be your father's post-apocalyptic movie, but it rocks and rolls and spills the blood with the best of the gruesome horror movies tailored to the tastes, wants, and desires of 21st century audiences. The movie truly is many of the classic 70s and 80s post-apocalyptic greats on steroids, borrowing themes from everything from Mad Max and Escape From New York to more modern fare like 28 Days Later, and perhaps more apropos to the discussion, 28 Weeks Later, all personal favorites in one of my most beloved genres. As a genre piece, Doomsday works very well. There are no major thematic undertones that we haven't seen before and no games or messages to bog the movie down; nothing interferes with the relentless pursuit to throw action, blood, and guts at the viewer. The movie strives to be the latest in a storied genre that raises the bar in terms of violence and style, and it easily succeeds. Bloodier than 28 Weeks Later, snazzier than The Road Warrior, and showcasing a car chase sequence for the ages, Neil Marshall's latest effort is a winner, at least in terms of satiating the appetites of genre fans everywhere.
Unfortunately, Doomsday seemed doomed from the start; despite the success of director Marshall's previous outings, his name does yet not carry a film, and with a cast of fine actors but no one headliner to sell tickets, combined with a split reaction from critics upon the film's initial release to theaters, the film has failed to recoup even its "measly" $30,000,000 budget, money that Marshall stretched to excellent effect. Doomsday is slicker than its budget suggests, and like one of my other favorite directors, Danny Boyle, Marshall seems to have a knack for creating good movies on a shoestring budget. Doomsday is not a traditionally "good" or "great" movie. It's as easy to tear apart as the various men and material seen throughout the movie, but it doesn't strive to be the next great Oscar winner, either. The film is definitely for fans of this sort of movie, and it teeters on splatter/exploitation, especially considering the graphic nature and over-the-top moments seen in this "unrated" version that are sure to send some audience members scrambling for a paper bag, but will draw laughter and a smile from filmgoers who know not to take what they see seriously. A perfect example from the film likely to draw this sort of reaction comes during the car chase and the lengths one character goes to to keep his girlfriend by his side. With plenty of other homages, from the APC vehicles that look similar to those seen in Aliens to a scene where a character's head is blown off by a shotgun blast that reminded me of one of the famous scenes from the apartment massacre at the beginning of Dawn of the Dead, there is plenty of material here for horror, gore, exploitation, and post-apocalyptic genre fans to love.
Doomsday Blu-ray, Video Quality
Universal's Blu-ray transfer of Doomsday is a high quality one with no major weaknesses. Presented in 1080p high definition and framed in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Universal's fourth Blu-ray disc lives up to the expectations I had for the transfer after screening and reviewing the studio's first three Blu-ray releases. Even in the films dark, dreary, bloody open, we can make out the intricacies of the military uniforms, and even the grime on the gas masks worn by the soldiers. The blood-splattering violence that follows looks fantastic and is definitely stomach-churning thanks to the both the graphic nature of the violence and the clarity of the Blu-ray image. Detail is generally excellent in faces and other close-up objects. Every bead of sweat, pores, lines, and other facial features are perfectly visible and accurately displayed. The image does sport some soft edges and backgrounds, especially in the darker shots with mono-color backgrounds. Black levels are perfectly deep and true. The first half of the film is extremely dark in tone, and the disc never falters in presenting a first-class picture quality underneath the avalanche of blacks, both outside at night and in some dank, depressing, moderately lit interiors. Halfway through the movie, there are finally some daytime outdoor shots and better-lit sequences, and the transfer continues to prove itself a strong one. Various scenes in wooded areas shine. The leaves of the trees aren't dense, and as the sun streams through from above, the resulting images in that locale are exquisite. As expected, the print is completely flawless with no blemishes, and flesh tones are spot-on perfect as well. While the intentional look of the movie doesn't lend itself to bright, crisp imagery, the transfer handles this material with excellent results.
Doomsday Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Doomsday wreaks havoc on the senses with a loud and immersive DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack that is almost perfect but falters in one key area. For the most part, this listening experience is an incredible one. Bass is deep throughout the movie and its intensity was the first thing I noted. The machine gun fire heard at the beginning of the movie rattled the entire room and scared my cat away. As heavy doors close on the wall, sealing the fate of Scotland once and for all, bass rattles yet again and the sound of the slow moving heavy steel punishes the listening area. The reverberations of helicopter rotors are also powerful and true. Crowd noise fills the room and the rear speakers never receive a moments rest. Chapter seven's battle scene is very loud, arguably too loud, but there is no denying the sonic joyride it represents. If you have been searching for a loud action scene that rocks the subwoofer, features nonstop surround presence, fantastic imagining, and excellent directionality, then read no further and order this disc from our Amazon link above (but please do come back once you're done). There are also excellent reverberations and echoes in the film, heard notably when a character talks to a large crowd through a microphone in a packed building in chapter nine. The music that follows is positively room filling, and again teetering on the "too loud" side of the scale. However, the scene does engender a great atmosphere that captures the moment and definitely seems to perfectly capture the look, feel, and sound of what the director was aiming for, creating a rock concert atmosphere complete with a human barbecue.
So why does the track only receive a 4/5? Narration and other dialogue is a bit muddied under the music throughout. In fact, in parts of chapter two, dialogue is barely audible. Unfortunately, this hurts the presentation. While I enjoy a great, enveloping, hard-hitting listen, I don't want to sacrifice dialogue clarity, which is exactly what's happened here. Not only was this a problem, but it took away from my overall enjoyment of the movie. I cannot say for sure if this is intentional or if this was some sort of error in the transfer process, but considering how pleased I was with Universal's first wave of Blu-ray discs, I would generally chalk this up to director intent, but with such a small sample size with which to judge Universal, I cannot say with certainty one way or the other. Don't fear, the problem is not a deal breaker, and chapter two is an extreme case, the worst offending sequence in the movie. Dialogue is intelligible and presented at a decent volume in many places, but it does practically disappear in chapter two, and I found myself straining to hear what was being said throughout parts of the movie, including both music and effects-heavy scenes and more mundane, quiet scenes. Nevertheless, the soundtrack on the whole is a dynamic, hard-hitting, awesome experience, and while I was disappointed with the dialogue anomaly, it wouldn't stop me from purchasing the disc.
Doomsday Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
It should come as no surprise that a film that grossed only a third of its budget domestically arrives on Blu-ray with a minimal, yet solid, set of extra materials. A feature commentary with director Neil Marshall and cast members Sean Pertwee, Darren Morfitt, Rick Warden, and Les Simpson is first. Right from the start, we get the sense that this will be a tongue-in-cheek (much like the movie), good time track, and it never disappoints. Between laughs, there is a good deal of technical and background information on the story, the script, the cast, and other tidbits that fans will eat up. There are some moments of prolonged dead air, which cause the track to drag, but the bulk of the track makes up for its shortcomings with pertinent information with a humorous edge. Doomsday also includes Universal's excellent U-Control feature. Three separate features can be accessed throughout the movie from the U-Control button: The Reaper Files, Tech Specs, and Picture in Picture. Each are designated by an icon and are selectable in-movie or users can tell the disc to automatically play features when they become available. In the U-Control menu, each of the movie's 20 chapters are shown with the icons above them representing what is to be found in each chapter. Every chapter offers at least one of the three extras, and four chapters offer all three. The disc also includes a basic U-Control tutorial on the disc itself and a physical pamphlet inside the case that goes further in-depth about the features and how to enjoy them. All three features are fast to access and provide as much information as a traditional supplemental package but in a unique and exciting format.
Doomsday Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I have no doubt that Doomsday will prove to be a very divisive film among Blu-ray fans. On one hand, those pre-disposed to enjoy this kind of movie will certainly love it, but the film provides plenty of ammunition to more discerning filmgoers who will see fit to trash its over-the-top violence, thin plot, and heavy doses of winks and nods to other films. Taken for what it's meant to be, however, Doomsday works like a charm, providing nearly two hours of nonstop assaults on the visual and aural senses, both of which are captured on this Blu-ray disc magnificently. With its excellent picture quality, booming audio that suffers only from sometimes difficult-to-hear dialogue, and a small but entertaining package of supplements, Doomsday may find a new home and admiration on home video. Highly recommended only for those who are prone to enjoy films like this one and who possess an iron stomach.
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Doomsday Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Universal Blu-ray Titles in Hand - July 3, 2008
I got home a little early today due to the pending holiday weekend, and to my surprise and happiness, sitting at my front door was a package from Universal containing their first four Blu-ray titles. In my hands, and pictured after the jump, is 'The Mummy: Deluxe ...
• Specs Announced for Doomsday Blu-ray - May 19, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has revealed the specs and extras for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Doomsday', due to hit store shelves on July 29th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Presented on a BD-50, video will come as 2.35:1 1080p accompanied by ...
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