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Escape From 28 Days Beyond Thunderdome



"Doomsday" is less a coherent film than a sampling of several decades' worth of bloody Hollywood extravaganzas, an extended riff on post-apocalyptic motorcycle gangs, lung-exploding plagues, cities turned into prisons, international drug cartels and, would you believe, medieval tournaments. The only thing that saves it from complete disgrace is that it knows it's trash and sometimes seems to wink at us as if to say, "Can you believe we got you to pay for this?"

At the center of this cook's tour of the end of the world is Major Eden Sinclair (Rhona Mitra of "Nip/Tuck"), a crack, special-ops type on a mission to disease-ridden Scotland in 2035. Scotland, you see, has for years been quarantined, its inhabitants cruelly left to fend for themselves without medicine, pipelines, MP3 downloads -- you name it. "The last to survive," the narrator murmurs, "became primal savages."

The savage-in-chief is one Sol (Craig Conway), a hollow-eyed, punk-goth cannibal who keeps the mob happy with spectacles combining goofy production numbers and ritual human sacrifice. (This, one takes it, is writer and director Neil Marshall's sly commentary on "Doomsday" itself.)

But there's another ogre in the highlands for Major Sinclair and her team to contend with, a mad scientist (Malcolm McDowell) who, in the midst of anarchy, has managed to outfit an entire medieval castle with painstaking attention to period detail. In a wonderful gesture of contempt for those who want better from the movies, McDowell's fortress chieftain is named Kane.

Unfortunately, much of the time Marshall keeps his irony on a short leash, perhaps so as not to confuse or alienate those in the audience who just want the simple pleasure of seeing people barbecued alive or naked, buxom gun molls buying it in the bathtub.

Watching "Doomsday," I did experience one moment of authentic terror. As one meaningless action sequence yielded to another, to the accompaniment of a relentless, pounding score, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps "Doomsday" represents the future of the movies. But in keeping with the film's ADD-friendly style, I just dropped that nasty thought and let my mind go blank — a strategy that may be recommended to anyone compelled to sit through this nauseating inanity. (R) 105 min. S


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