Doom. Not only is it one of the most classic video games of all time, but it is one of my favorite games of all time. Back in the day when I still played video games (hence had time to play video games), there was nothing better than leaping into the pits of hell and cutting up some pink demons with a chainsaw.
While video game adaptations generally suck big time, mainly thanks to Uwe Boll, the prospect of a Doom movie caught my attention. After all, how hard would it be to create a fun action-horror flick based on Doom? All you have to do is set the film on Mars, open up a gateway to hell, and lend a bunch of Marines to be fodder food for creatures already created in several video games, from "Doom" to "Quake" to "Doom 3." Hell, you can even through in some Nazis for good measure if you want to make homage to "Wolfenstein 3D."
So, how the hell could Hollywood mess up so freaking badly? Should we blame it on director Andrzej Bartkowiak, whose claim to fame has been "Rome Must Die" and "Cradle 2 the Grave?" Neither of those films were great, but they were fun action movies. Should we blame screenwriters Dave Callaham and Wesley Strick for coming up with a dreadful incarnation of the "Doom" franchise? Should we blame the actors, who all deliver terrible performances? Or should we blame the studio for not insisting it be more faithful to the game.
Let's just be broad and blame everyone for this fiasco. From poor creature design to a terrible story to lame dialogue and bad acting, "Doom" has little to offer. The plot goes like this: after a mysterious disaster on a Mars research facility, a bunch of marines, led by The Rock and Karl Urban, are sent in to clean up the mess, only to find that the lab has been taken over by a bunch of monsters that are, in fact, genetic mutations of the scientists themselves. Like that hasn't been done before...
Two things are noticeably missing from the plot: Hell and Mars. The two key factors in the "Doom" video games, neither has much to do with the movie at all. Most of the movie takes place on Mars, but you'd never know because the entire film is set inside in rather dull laboratories and sewers (why do they have old-school sewers on Mars anyway?). The creatures are not of Hell at all, and, strangely enough, do not look like the ones from the games at all. There are some key monsters to be found in the video games, ones that almost any video game person would recognize, and they are noticeably absent. Why it was decided to remove all references from Hell defies all logic. As one other reviewer pointed out, you wouldn't need much of a back story: "The creatures are from a portal to Hell. We're f**ked."
On top of the story, the dialogue is really bad, the characters flat. There are some really, really poorly-written characters here, and the actors seem to give up early on. Karl Urban, known for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is extremely under par, and The Rock, who has a surprisingly smaller role, is nothing to scream about, either. Beautiful Rosamund Pike is relegated to a helpless female role that somehow manages to get around the entire movie without a gun.
One thing that surprised me in a pleasant way was the first person viewpoint utilized at the end of the film. Obviously attempting to appeal to fans of the game, which was the first major "first person shooter," director Bartkowiak actually makes this view halfway decent, though it still never entirely works. Bartkowiak treats it as more of a novelty at the end of the film than as a way to evoke suspense throughout, and that hurts the angle quite a lot. There isn't a single scary scene in the entire movie, and had Bartkowiak played his cards right he could have taken huge advantage of the first-person angle.
"Doom" is a disappointing flick from beginning to end. Lacking everything that made the game so popular, it isn't scary, it isn't all too exciting, and there isn't a single worthwhile character in the entire bunch. With a different set of writers and a slightly better director this film really could have been something, but alas it shall burn in an unpleasant place for all of eternity - my list of bad movies.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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