The Marines, led by The Rock as “Sarge”, have landed on Mars, having been ordered to rescue and retrieve the property of a government funded underground operation. It seems there’s some pretty wild things going on down there, and scientists are being torn from limb to limb by some pretty nasty looking creatures.
Sarge and his team use an underground lab as their home base, branching out to the network of tunnels around it. When in the lab, “Doom” plays like John Carpenter’s “The Thing” with everyone interacting and trying to figure out what it is that they’re dealing with. While in the tunnels, the film plays more like “Alien” with long quiet shots as the creatures and man hunt each other down. Eventually, as they try to make their way back upward to the surface, I’m reminded of “Resident Evil” as well. Unfortunately, all of those movies are much better than this one.
The biggest surprise in the film is that it really has very little in common with its source material. “Doom” the game deals with the minions of Hell entering our solar system to gain a foothold and, eventually, take over. “Doom” the movie is yet another scifi/horror flick about genetic mutation. Wasn’t this theme played out in the 1970s? Why do we still keep using it?
Additionally, while it does manage to work in a few of the creatures and weapons from the games, there is far too little of this. Frankly, I have no idea why they would take the most successful computer video game of all time (at one point, it was estimated that fully half of all Windows based computers had “Doom” or its shareware first episode installed) and alter it into something unrecognizable by its core demographic. What sense does that make?
There’s also LOTS of over acting in this one, folks. Filled with caricatures and cliches, “Doom” doesn’t even work well as an action flick until the final half hour, when it suddenly starts caring about little things such as plausible characterization and creativity. One several minute scene near the end is shot from a first-person viewpoint, imitating the game’s visual style and even adding a humorous slant. I wish as much thought had been put into the rest of the film.
Conversely, the special effects are very well done; the creature designs (all three of them) are excellent, and the amount of gore and blood in this one is surprising from a major studio. If attention had been paid to keeping the film faithful to its original source, this could have been the most entertaining game-to-film translation yet. It doesn’t though, so it isn’t.
I can see “Doom” actually becoming more entertaining if it is viewed as a popcorn cheesefest going in. It’s campy and fun taken in this context, with The Rock providing some great (albeit, unintentional) laughs through some terrifically hammy line deliveries (“Semper Fi, Motherfucker!”). But no matter how you watch it, it just ain’t “Doom.”
Pros: Rosamund Pike is much better than this film deserves. Decent effects…
Cons: …but too few creature designs from the games. Where the hell are any of the bosses (like the Cyberdemon, for example)? One dimensional characters. Overacting by nearly everyone except William Shatner, who isn’t in this film but whose presence can still be felt. Same old genetic mutation plot. Startlingly abrupt ending.
Review Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (3 for the last half hour and 2 for the first hour, averaged)
100 Minutes; USA / Czech Republic
Rated R for strong violence/gore and language.
Karl Urban (John Grimm)
Rosamund Pike (Samantha Grimm)
Deobia Oparei (Destroyer)
Ben Daniels (Goat)
Razaaq Adoti (Duke)
The Rock (Sarge)
Written by: David Callaham and Wesley Strick, from a story by Dave Callaham
Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Viewing Format: Theatrical Release.