Rated: R for adult language, graphic violence, and disturbing images.
Genre: Science Fiction Action Thriller Horror
Directed By: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Running Time: 1:40
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 12/07/05
DVD Features:
Not Announced.


I don't play video games anymore. Yes, call me a freak all you want, but I'm not the one spending over five hundred dollars for a ridiculous new game system that will be obsolete in two years. Either way, I used to play video games, but the game "Doom" was never my milieu. It was too much of a fast-paced game and I never gained interest, but I know the basic gist of the narrative involved. So, you can imagine my dismay with the utter abysmal alterations made to the storyline turning it from nihilistic action horror to cookie cutter action science fiction (and don't feed me that "But it's based on Doom 3" crap).

Unlike others, I don't find interest in video games anymore. It's a vacuous hobby in the end, but what's really sad is that we've yet to see a good adaptation of a video game in theaters. "Doom" is no exception in that thought. Studios juiced up fans of the series by telling them the film was an R rating, when really there was no true distinction from an R and PG-13 in the end. There's a lopped off head, and slight violence, but it's distorted in the conveniently filmed darkness that really keeps us from the money shots. It's a wonder why we're even given an R rating, except to draw in the crowds, and it's infuriating to know this replaced "Land of the Dead" in its release date.

As for "Doom", it's a bland lifeless piece of science fiction fodder that really doesn't pay homage to the game. It's a mixture of the shockingly influential style of "Resident Evil", and "Aliens" that is so by the numbers it was funny. I could point out every plot device that was happening or about to happen, and it's sad that such a popular one of a kind game is turned in to another run of the mill action flick. And, there are your usual clichés, the rag tag group of soldiers, the shady lead hero, the woman added for no reason other than to create PC
friction who just so happens to have the key to the mission, etc. One of the only interesting scenes in "Doom" is the transference of the Universal globe in to the red planet, but we're never told if they are on Mars at all. Is it Mars? Is it hell? Is it another dimension? Or is it Earth? They never tell us. I was paying attention, they just didn't tell us.

One true crime with this expectantly fast-paced actioner is that it's often very boring. There's this pretty complicated plotline involving scientists and infected people. It's explained that the monsters choose their victims, for reasons not entirely explained, and then the victims become zombies and then turn in to the monsters. But, then, what's with the zombies? Who are they? Are they monsters as well? Or just people who couldn't transform? And the action only starts in to the hour mark and then the rest is spent on nothing but watching these people walk in to corridors and spout military lingo back and forth.

There is zero character emphases here aside from what we're supposed to know about these characters, or aside from what the writers expect us to know about them. They're dropped on to the screen and there's nothing really explained to us other than a basic concept: "These are soldiers, they're conflicted, they like to shoot guns, and that's all you need to know". Meanwhile elements are taken from many other science fiction films shamelessly, from creatures that look like the H.R. Geiger designs from "Alien" (and if that doesn't rip off "Aliens" enough, there are even creatures whom shoot eggs into other people's necks ala the face huggers), and then for no reason whatsoever there are even zombies thrown in to the mix.

"Doom" isn't as exciting as I was hoping it would be. Granted, I really didn't expect much in terms of quality, but at best I expected a kinetic atmosphere, but that's never accomplished. Getting top billing here is The Rock who becomes one of the downfalls from quality that "Doom" has the potential for. I think The Rock is very likable, and he's made many entertaining films lately, but here he is extremely over the top as Sarge, spouting military rhetoric like it's going out of style and can never deliver the lines with enough conviction. Dwayne Johnson is not the main character per se, he's more of an antagonistic anti-hero who wears a ridiculously large "Semper Fi" tattoo on his back, and does nothing but shout at his men.

Karl Urban who has a more prominent character should have been the top star, but he is sadly downplayed in his role and character in favor of The Rock. He's more of a main character than anyone else here, and he's the one we see through the first person perspective ala "Doom". And even that never made a lick of sense. He goes out cold, and his sister leaves, why? It can be assumed that she thought he'd died, but why was she so confident he wouldn't? And judging by his war going through the halls with only his gun confronting monsters and zombies, how did she make it through there without being hurt or attacked? It makes no sense. His mere scraps of character development are about the only interesting things here. By the second half the wheels start to come off as it's focused on the actual gimmick from the game and then ends very abruptly. There's no urgency, no dread, and no sense that these characters are waiting to die. Everything comes off as a ho hum exercise in cashing in on a franchise and fails.

If approached with urgency and dread, composed as a horror film, and if supplied with actual character emphases and good writing, "Doom" could have been a great post-apocalyptic science fiction horror entry, but it's just a weak and--sadly--very boring vehicle for Dwayne Johnson and misses the mark on a lot of potentially exciting plot devices. "Doom" is never as good as it could be, but it's as bad as we expect it to be.



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