DOOM - 2005
Castle Rock / Warner Bros.
Ratings: USA: Rated R
When you play it now it’s kind of hokey. But when it came out way back in the before time it was a whole new world. It was Doom, the video game that started it all and it taught me that a chainsaw can be a source of stress relief. Did the movie version do it justice? Let’s find out.
DOOM was written by David Callaham and Wesley Strick (THE GLASS HOUSE, CAPE FEAR, ARACHNOPHOBIA) and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. It opens with brief narration telling us that in the year 2026 an archeological dig in Nevada uncovered an ancient ruin that included a portal that teleports you to Mars. This has allowed the Union Aerospace Corporation, under government contract, to establish a base on Mars where further archeological exploration has revealed the remains of an extinct civilization.
THE FAR SUPERIOR DOOM POSTER THAT WENT OUT TO THE REST OF THE WORLD
Cut to the Olduvai Mars Base and we see right away that all is not well. People in lab coats run screaming. One by one they’re picked off by something unseen until only one is left. Dr. Carmack (Robert Russell: ESCAPE VELOCITY, HELL MOUNTAIN) makes a frantic call from his lab, ordering a quarantine of the facility. Something large and very strong is pounding on his door. For the uninitiated: This character name is a reference to John Carmack, founder of Id, the company that created the Doom video game.
The call goes out for the RRTS (Rapid Response Tactical Squad), a group of soldiers lead by Sarge (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: THE MUMMY RETURNS, THE SCORPION KING). They assemble at the UAC facility in Nevada built around The Ark (the portal to Mars) and make the jump to the Red Planet. One soldier in particular has trouble accepting this assignment. John Grimm (Karl Urban: THE LORD OF THE RINGS [all], GHOST SHIP) is the son of the archeologists who discovered the ark. They died soon after.
The soldiers arrive and try to find out what happened from the few survivors. One such survivor is Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike: DIE ANOTHER DAY), John Grimm’s sister. He doesn’t approve of her working on a project that killed their parents.
So they go in to the dark, metal hallways, looking very tough and professional, and look for monsters. Then they look some more. Man, they spent a lot of time looking. I know that was supposed to build tension but come on! Bring on the freakin’ monsters already!
And that’s especially important here because the core audience for this movie are the fans of the game and the fans of the game want to see two things: the guns and the monsters. There’s a lot of very cool examples of both in the game and the great thing (potentially) about a movie version is seeing that cool stuff brought to life on the big screen.
THE ORIGINAL BALLS TO THE WALL GAME BOX ARTWORK BY DON PUNCHATZ
Eventually these soldiers do manage to find the monsters and get themselves killed in inventive ways but even that ends up being a disappointment because of all the many creatures in Doom the video game, we really only see one kind in the movie. And it's the lowest level, easiest to kill monster! The imps, for cryin' out flavin! Where were the Barons of Hell? Where was the Cyberdemon? You got one quick look at something that might have been a baron but most of the times you saw a monster it was just a quick look as it grabbed someone and pulled them into the shadows. Very unsatisfying.
As far as guns are concerned, there's only one from the game that's in the movie: the BFG (The “B” stands for “Big” and the “G” stands for “Gun” and I forget what the “F” stands for). It's a favorite and the crowd in the theatre cheered when they saw it, but it only gets fired twice, the effect isn't that great and the second time it's fired the soldier firing it misses his target even though he's less than 5 feet away! That’s just wrong! Anything 5 feet away from the business end of a BFG would be vaporized
Ahem. That sounded scientific and has put me in the mood for a
DOOM has its moments. There's a segment toward the end that feels very “game-like” that also brought a cheer from the hardcore fans and that is explained fairly well. But it's nowhere near enough. I give DOOM two shriek girls.
The “explanation” for what’s going on doesn’t entirely suck. They go for a pure sci-fi explanation (rather than having the creatures come from Hell, as in the game) and it’s not entirely unbelievable (It was a little reminiscent of FORBIDDEN PLANET, in fact). But part of it depends on something Samantha says about there being 10% of the human genome that we haven’t mapped yet. Well, no, that’s not true. We mapped the entire human genome a few years ago. We don’t know what every gene does yet but we know where they all are. And way, way before the mid 2030’s when this movie takes place, we’ll know the exact function of each and every gene. Way before. Like next Tuesday.
copyright 2005 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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