Doomsday Device (also known as Pandora’s Box) is a film from Lionsgate and CineTel Films full of comedy and character development. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only saving grace this film has to offer. While there are plenty of action scenes, there are many underlying problems in every one of them that the viewer cannot help but notice. The inconsistencies tend to ruin many situations within the movie, especially in terms of acting quality and special effects. With a great cast of actors who have been in high-budget films in the past, I had expected more substance from the film as a whole. After all, while special effects do make a movie look great, if the acting is not on-par, then why even bother?
Now, this is not to say that I did not enjoy myself throughout the entirety of the movie. In fact, I quite like it a lot, but there are so many problems that could have been buffed out that prevent me from wanting to ever watch this film a second time. However, there were some positives, such as the humor, that really do make the film worth seeing at least once. The movie will officially be available for purchase on February 20, 2018, on the Lionsgate Shop website.
‘Doomsday Device’ Delights
The movie does have some good qualities if you look past the obvious terrible special effects. The storyline, for one, is absolutely fantastic. The main characters of the film consist of two FBI agents, Cole (Corin Nemec) and Mack (Mike Hatton), a Japanese smuggler who is more than she appears to be (Mary Christina Brown), a mysterious witch (Jon Mack), and a rich criminal businessman obsessed with power (Robert Carradine). The humorous interactions between Cole and Mack throughout the film constantly had me laughing hysterically. While Cole came off as the typical overly-serious agent persona, Mack was a bumbling newbie who had never worked in the field before. The combination may be a bit overdone, but it almost never gets old.
The cast of celebrity actors actually worked quite well in the movie. With Robert Carradine from Revenge of the Nerds, the villain seemed debonair and charming with a hint of power-hungry malevolence. Honestly, I think he’ll be the largest selling point for this movie due to his past roles in famous movies. Corin Nemec, famous for his role as Jonas Quinn in Stargate SG-1, made a brilliant “badass cop” stereotype for the film with some dry humor and sarcastic responses to enhance the scenes. The development of his character throughout the film, going from the “I believe what I see” type of person to a believer in supernatural forces, really fleshed out just what type of man he is and got me to love the character even more.
Now, this is where things take a turn for the worse. Doomsday Device is riddled with special effects that look absolutely horrific. The majority of these are explosions that look more commonplace in the original 1993 Doom. These are not necessarily bad graphics in general, but they fit a more pixelized, older game style rather than that of a modern-day film. One thing they did remind me of was the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers style of special effects, with the yellow and green colored lasers, glowing stones, and melee combat style.
Unfortunately, the props were also to blame in many of these settings, as well as the camera movements. To simulate a collapsing building, the cameraman swayed his view back and forth lightly, slightly jarring the camera while the actors reacted to a sound effect and queue. This scene in particular lacked a lot of special effects, bad or otherwise. What was honestly quite funny was the moment when they ran through a “collapsing” hallway and someone off-screen gently pushed a badly-painted polystyrene (Styrofoam) block into the path behind them. The polystyrene was obvious due to it having many sections that didn’t even have paint on it, showing the foam to the viewer.
(In)Consistency Is Everything
Unfortunately, one of the worst problems with Doomsday Device is the lack of consistency throughout the film. Every single time the characters act out a scene, depending on who is interacting with whom, their level of believably will change. I witnessed numerous times when Cole would speak with Mack or Director Pena (Jose Rosete) and engaged in clever witticisms and genuine emotional responses. Now, this doesn’t happen when he has a scene with Kana. For example, when they talk, there’s a robotic, stiff dialogue that’s very noticeable. She tries to be dramatic, but only appears like a newbie to acting and comes off too strong. Nemec almost seems to visibly cringe and doesn’t know how to respond. This completely throws his lines off as well. The cast was great, but unfortunately, they just don’t work well together.
Now, let’s talk about consistency. There’s a problem worse than low-quality animations and effects. When a gunfight scene arrives, certain things need to happen. If someone gets shot, there should be at least a small amount of blood. When cars or walls get hit, there should be holes or at least dents to show damage. If guns go off, there should be bullet casings here and there. Unfortunately, none of these happened much during the film. I noticed cars and wooden posts being hit with bullets during a gunfight and there were some ricochet effects, but no damage whatsoever to anything that was hit. The guns barely even moved when firing. There was hardly any simulation of recoil. Realism completely went out the window in this film.
Japanese History and Nobunaga?
One thing that definitely confused me was the depiction of the famous Japanese daimyo Oda Nobunaga. In feudal Japan, he rose to power over many different clans, including his own. He became one of the most powerful warlords in Eastern history. Some claim he was involved in magic and demonic rituals to enhance his power, or that he himself was actually part demon. Doomsday Device took this a step further to imply that a European witch gave him the power known as the “Jibutsu”. Funny enough, the meaning of this word in English just means “thing”. With this power, he dominated the country of Japan and laid waste to his enemies before it supposedly consumed him. Now, this is incorrect to actual history and is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It appears that nobody involved in this film did their homework on actual history.
Nobunaga’s death shook the very foundation of feudal Japan. It was an event that nobody foresaw. He betrayed the Hatano clan’s peace treaty and executed one of their leaders when he took Yakami Castle. Nobunaga’s most trusted vassal’s mother was murdered in revenge. This was thought to be what fueled the revenge that his vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide, planned. Instead of assisting the other generals in the fight against the Mori clan, he led an attack on his lord. The castle was set on fire and Nobunaga was killed in the assault. His son, Nobutada, was also murdered later. To ignore these historical facts seems rather insulting to the history of feudal Japan.
So, should you buy Doomsday Device? Honestly, I’d say no. For more than $15 plus shipping, it feels too steep because of the film’s quality. This feels more like content that would make a decent YouTube video rather than something to purchase for home viewing. Movies of this quality tend to run in the same circles as Sharknado. It would never be worthy of theatrical settings.
Would you watch this movie? Have I hit the nail on the head or missed the target completely? Did Power Rangers do better special effects? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!