BLOGS

Doomsday

by DeAnn Welker July 30, 2008 11:51 am
Doomsday I'll let you decide for yourself if Doomsday is your type of movie: It's like Mad Max for a new era, with a smokin' hot tough girl (Rhona Mitra) in the lead (and, seriously, she is so hot; why didn't I realize this on Boston Legal?). The movie is a more than a little wacky, set in post-apocalyptic Scotland, which has been in quarantine for years because of a virus. But you know that going into a movie called Doomsday: It's a little bit zombie flick, a little bit Mad Max, and a little bit sexy people fighting.

But I'm not here to review the film. Everyone else already did that when it was released in theaters. I will quibble with one thing: What is it about filmmakers that they think people shut off from the world are going to decide to paint their faces and take a liking to Mohawks and other wild hairdos? Wouldn't they just do something simpler, especially since these particular people didn't necessarily know they'd ever need to be "warriors," because they didn't know anyone was alive on the other side of the walls?

I'm here to talk about extras, of which there aren't many, but those that are there are worthwhile:

Unrated and theatrical versions: The DVD contains both the original theatrical version of the film and the unrated version (four minutes longer, but there's enough hard-core stuff in the original version that you'll have a hard time noticing the differences on the unrated cut; from what I remember of the theatrical version, the extra footage may include a little more exploding heads and severed body parts and other gruesome violence). The Blu-ray version only contains the unrated version of the film, so if you were hooked by the theatrical and don't want a thing to change, you might want to stick to the DVD this time around; the DVD is about as high-definition as you can get without using Blu-ray or HD-DVD, so you won't be disappointed.

Feature commentary: Only available on the unrated version, this commentary is from director Neil Marshall (The Descent) and four male cast members whose names you won't recognize, probably even after having seen the film. It's a little disappointing Rhona Mitri didn't sit down for the commentary, especially since so many people did. Also, it's really frustrating because you usually can't tell who's talking, which makes things hard to follow. In general, it's just too many people all geeking out over this strange little piece of cinema.

Featurettes: There are three featurettes, totaling about 40 minutes combined. They're almost all about the technical aspects of the film. "Anatomy of a Catastrophe: Civilization on the Brink" (I have to ask: Why do featurettes need titles that are seven words longer than the feature?) is about 17 minutes long, and is your run-of-the-mill making-of featurette, including interviews with crew and cast members (more enjoyable and less confusing here than in the feature commentary) mixed in with footage from filming that gives a good idea how the movie was made, and what the process was like. Then there's a very short (three minutes) featurette called "The Visual Effects and Wizardry of Doomsday." It's interesting, as it explains how some of the visual effects (fewer than you might think, as they did a lot of actual stunts) worked. The three-minute time stamp will just leave you wanting more, though. Not that it needs to be padded out, but surely there was more to say about the visual effects in a bloody zombie flick. Then there's "Devices of Death: Guns, Gadgets, and Vehicles of Destruction": This is probably the highlight of the whole DVD, actually -- maybe even including the movie. The reason is simple: You get a real insider's look the technical aspects of the film, and this is when you realize why the "Visual Effects" featurette was so short: Almost everything in this movie -- creatures, dead bodies, car stunts, and more -- was real, i.e. not CGI or post-production trickery. This is where the movie's referencing old films such as Mad Max really shine through: They even filmed it old-school, without much computerized sleight of hand, in an age when they could have made the whole thing that way.

In summary, this is a great DVD release. While it's nice the DVD actually gets more fun goodies than the Blu-ray for a change, it's getting more and more frustrating having to choose between the formats. Studios should be consistent and make both formats the same and let fans decide for themselves, all else being equal.

Buy here.

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