Tuesday, September 25, 2012


DOOM the game re-defined the ways that video games were played back in the early 90s. It was id Software's second game (Castle Wolfenstein was their first) and it brought the first person shooter to everyone's attention and made it a genre all its own.

Nearly 15 years later the film version is being hyped as the one that would re-define how game based movies are viewed by the public (i.e. not as total crap).

Not quite.

While the film sports a great industrial look and a general spooky vibe, the plot itself feels so loose and thin that it's hard to get into it for the first hour. We learn during the opening prologue that in the future we discovered an ancient portal on Earth that leads to Mars, and that we have begun the colonization of that world due to it. A group of six scientists who were doing top secret experiments on Mars go missing and a team of marines are sent in to investigate.
Well, that's what the first hour alone covers. It's slow, with lots and lots of scenes revolving around the marines, led by Grimm (Karl Urban) and Sarge (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), trekking through the installation while bickering with one another about stupid crap that does nothing to advance the plot. All the marines are stereotypical: the lover-boy, the rookie, the cynical veteran, the quiet one, the religious one and some that were made just to be creature fodder. Karl Urban is probably the only actor here that shows any kind of interest in the material. Even the usually energetic Rock seems to be asleep at the wheel. Sure Rosamund Pike (from Die Another Day who plays Grimm's geneticist sister) is hot as hell, but she looks lost half the time and she disappears for a good chunk of the film toward the end for no apparent reason.

The games are all about death and destruction, so how does the movie hold up in that regard? Pretty damn well I must admit. When there is action it's fast and furious with a generous helping of gore added into the mix. The mutant creatures (who were demons from hell in the game), that were designed by Stan Winston, look fantastic as CGI as well as suit-based. The CGI for the most part is decent, looking about as good as the stuff in Serenity. And the dark and moody cinematography gives the whole production a nice feel just like in the games!
There's also plenty of references and clever little touches to make the movie feel like you're in a live action version of the game. The doors are all designed like they are in the game, including the colored border, the corresponding keys and the same screeching sound when they open. All the weapons are covered and they even included the God Mode (you'll have to see it to believe it).

And for the moment you've all been waiting for... the much-hyped first person segment of the film.


In the trailers it looked hokey and gimmicky, but when you see it worked into the film it's probably the best part of the whole flick. Fast paced, violent and just as claustrophobic feeling as the game this scene works wonders to bring you into the film and make you feel like you're part of the action. Kudos to the film makers for having the balls to try something like this.

On the down side the film has a very predictable finale (saw it coming from the trailers) which is left open for a sequel. The acting is sub-par (like I mentioned before), there's virtually no plot or character development and it has long dry spots before any action takes place.
The musical score by ex-Pop Will Eat Itself band member Clint Mansell is a mixed bag too. While I like industrial music and thought the score from the first Resident Evil flick rocked, the metal score used here seemed a bit forced and cheesy. It's good, but it takes a little getting used to, especially when they're trying to build up suspense in some dark tunnels during a particular scene and you've got this blaring heavy metal music pumping through the speakers that pretty much ruins the tension level.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, who helmed Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave, has made his most successful movie thus far. It has some creative bits, and a really odd “guy movie” type of feel to it, like hot chicks and guns. Example, when the Rock first finds the legendary BFG (Big Fuckin’ Gun), he looks at the weapon like he's in love. It's a funny moment, and there are a lot of them mixed into the film, but on the whole it's just another dumb action movie. If you're a DOOM fan, check it out.

3 out of 5

*written 10/21/05

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