The 1979 cult classic Mad Max is one of those films, that despite the filmmakers deciding to dub Mel Gibson’s voice in U.S. theatres, falls into that sacred category of “should never be remade,” but the release of the second Fury Road trailer complete with the 2000 Battle Royale film music equals some kind of awesome. It also makes the argument of not remaking the film a moot point. When a trailer looks and sounds this great, it is almost fait accompli that the film is going to rock socks at the cinema.
Episode 10 of The Last Ship is the show’s finale and if looking at IMDb means anything, a second season has already been approved. However, before that happens the crew of the USS Nathan James have to cope with having been cured of the plague and trying to spread the vaccine across a country decimated by the illness.
Two of the most promoted television shows on the small screen right now deal with an apocalyptic theme this summer, The Last Ship and The Strain. Both these programs deal, albeit very differently, with the possible extinction of mankind. Although it could be said that each show has a different sort of pandemic which threatens the survival of the human race.
Devil’s Playground is director Mark McQueen‘s first venture into the feature film arena. Better known as the director of the “reality” television series The Only Way Is Essex, McQueen hasn’t done too badly in his maiden voyage.
Unfortunately the film feels an awful lot like the 2008 Brit-flick Doomsday but without the added benefit of director Neil Marshall or Rhona Mitra or Bob Hoskins. Playground does use a lot of the same actors though.
Sean Pertwee (and what would a low budget British horror film be without him), MyAnna Buring (who also was immune to the ‘virus’ that plaqued, sorry, England in Doomsday), and Craig Conway (who played MyAnna’s brother in Doomsday).
So okay we do have Colin Salmon (who has done the whole zombie bit before in Resident Evil 2002) and Danny Dyer (who is also an alumni of British horror because he played the drugged out prat in 2006’s Severance and he also did the 2009 horror film Doghouse), but, to the best of my knowledge Craig Fairbrass has never been in an apocalyptic zombie film before.
Interestingly enough the ruggedly good looking Fairbass got his start working on an English television show called London’s Burning. He went to America to work and Hollywood’s never really known what to do with him.
The basic plot of Devil’s Playground is not blazingly original. A chemical/pharmaceutical company is doing tests on people using an ‘enhancement’ drug that, apart from one test subject (Buring), is turning the participants into adrenalin fuelled scary zombies.
Craig Fairbrass plays Cole an armed policeman who is feeling a huge amount of guilt over the things he has had to do in the recent past. His murdering a couple in their bed, with the woman being heavily pregnant, plays over and over in guilt ridden flashbacks.
Fairbass gets infected at the very beginning of the film while fighting zombies. He manges to get three injections that will hopefully stave off the virus long enough for him to find the ‘immune’ and also heavily pregnant Angela Mills (Buring).
Unfortunately, the film lacks a little in the believability department when everyone apart from Cole only have to get scratched by one of the infected zombies to be overcome by the virus. Those injections must be really good if not completely pain-free since he regularly doubles over in pain.
The other believability problem is the, unintentionally, funny instant Parkouring ability of almost every zombie. The infected folks can just naturally jump through open car windows and scale buildings like Parkour professionals. And while that is actually quite funny it speaks more of a limited stunt team who are using the same few stuntmen over and over.
The film is entertaining despite it’s similarity to many other apocalyptic zombie films already on the market. Craig Fairbrass alone is worth the price of a DVD rental to watch this film.
Well that and seeing Sean Pertwee, sporting a huge moustache, run across a dock and steal the river police’s powerboat and speed off into the distance.
I don’t know if he was escaping the approaching zombies or trying to get the hell out of the film.
A rating of one leisurely bag of popcorn, nothing special but still entertaining.
- “Cockneys vs. Zombies” Trailer: This Is How a Zombie Comedy Should Look Like (news.softpedia.com)
- Our Say: Why we love zombies (mercurynews.com)
- The Devils Rejects (2005): Zombie Western Horror (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Zombies, Zombies and More Zombies: NYC Video (patriotsandpaulies.wordpress.com)
- House of a 1000 Corpses (2003): Horror Zombie Style (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- These zombie Disney Princess are downright childhood-ruining [Zombies] (io9.com)
- Stalker (2010) (cinemaroll.com)
As the poster so clearly states: A New Film From Neil Marshall. Doomsday is the third film to be written and directed by Neil Marshall. The first two, Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005), I have written about before. These three films, if watched in the order they were made, show Marshall’s growth and increased status as a writer/director. Each progressive film benefits from an increased budget and the calibre of actors goes up as well. More importantly, each film’s scope is enlarged; the first two films were a cozy affair. Single locale, set number of actors and scenes, FX capable but not too flashy. Doomsday in terms of all the above mentioned items, scoops them both.
Filmed for an estimated budget of $30,000,000 Doomsday looks impressive. The cast comprises the usual Marshall regulars, Sean Pertwee, Emma Cleasby, Nora-Jane Noone, MyAnna Buring, and Craig Conway (Conway gives a stand out performance as the mad-as-hatter ruler of a blood thirsty mob of survivors – Sol). The cast also includes some big names: Bob Hoskins, Malcolm McDowell (as Sol’s pop, you can see where Sol gets his personality from), Rhona Mitra, like I said big names.
In the not too distant future a killer virus known as The Reaper sweeps through Britain. The government decide to contain the infected behind a huge fortified fence that stretches from coast to coast, cutting off Scotland completely and leaving everyone trapped behind the fence to die. The United Kingdom is condemned by the rest of the world for their actions.
Jump ahead thirty years and two things happen almost simultaneously. Satellites that have been orbiting the contaminated area north of the fence spies movement and The Reaper has made an unwelcome return. A small group of elite specialist are drafted into entering the contaminated zone. Their mission is to find a research laboratory that was working on a cure for the virus before they were trapped in the containment area and to find out who has survived and how.
Rhona Mitra is one-eyed Eden Sinclair (this role so obviously got her cast in Underworld 3) who leads the team of experts into the area. Eden, whose “glass-eye” doubles as a camera with video recording capability, is hard as nails and very independent. Once she and her team breach the wall and head into the laboratory, they get jumped by Sol’s people. They are captured and as part of Sol’s twenty-four hour madness, Sean Pertwee is again killed at the beginning of the second reel.
The film has a very ‘Mad Max‘ feel to it. From the outfits that Sol’s people wear, to the vehicles they use at the end of the film in a protracted Mad Max chase scene, the film feels like an English version of the Mel Gibson cult favourites. Marshall himself stated the the Mad Max trilogy inspired him and that he was paying his own homage to the films.
It was very nice to see Malcolm McDowell as Sol’s father, the lab scientist who has decided to remake the survivors behind the wall into his vision of Darwin’s theory. His madness dictates that he can willing sacrifice his own children if they do not obey him and his rules. Once Eden returns from the infected territory with a “cure” for the reaper virus, she sets up the very people who sent her and her team to almost certain death. She puts in motion the mechanics for their downfall.
Doomsday is a cracking film. It has a snappy pace and the actors all do well. The bigger budget shows in the end result and I am guessing the Marshall will have an even bigger budget for his next film.
Marshall’s next film is The Last Voyage of Demeter, Dracula fans will recognise the name of the ship, it is the one that transports the Count to England in the book. It looks as though Marshall is going back to his horror roots. The film is due to be released in 2013. I am looking forward to it.