STUDIO: Universal
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 113 Minutes
• Basic Training
• Rock Formation
• Master Monster Makers
• First Person Shooter Sequence
Doom Nation
• Game On!
• Doom 3 XBox Demo

Even with the plethora of video game films we’ve had in the last 10 years or so, it always seems that making a movie from an established gaming property such as Super Mario Bros. or Bloodrayne is a dodgy premise at best. In instances like House of the Dead or Double Dragon, it’s a downright disaster. Even when the film is decent or at least passable, such as the two Resident Evil movies (I fully expect the Anderson haters to shellac me for that comment. Won’t be the first time…), you can’t win because die-hard gamers are still going to tear it apart because it took liberties with the story. One of the many criticisms on RE: Apocalypse was that Nemesis was nothing more than a big, dumb, lumbering man-in-suit who should have wiped the floor with Alice. Anyway, the latest game to come down the cinematic pike is what was the Halo 2 or Star Wars: Battlefront of the early ‘90s: Doom.


The Flick

Signore Faraci gave his take on the theatrical version of the flick here. I’d have to say I agree with most of what he tosses out there about the movie. Aside from genetic monsters instead of demons from hell along with a few other liberties, Doom‘s a fairly faithful adaptation of the hit video game franchise, complete with an extra life and fairly wicked first person shooter sequence in the climax. It’s only aspirations are to be a popcorn flick, and everyone involved, particularly The Rock, go into the film ready to get it on with their big guns against the big creepies.

The basic premise is pretty simple: something goes screwy on an archaeological dig of an abandoned civilization on Mars called Olduvai, and scientists are being gutted left and right by something big and nasty that likes to party in the dark. The Marines are literally called in, led by Sarge (The Rock), who’s essentially Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in a pro wrestler’s body. Sarge is the commander of the Rapid Rescue Tactical Squad, the RRTS, a virtual carbon copy of the unit in Predator. The other principal jarhead Karl Urban as John “Reaper” Grimm (no relation to Benjy), who has a personal stake in the mission because his parents were killed in an accident at Olduvai and his estranged twin sister is one of the lead scientists at the dig. The RRTS gets to Mars in a jiffy by way of the Starg- uh the Ark, that was apparently built by the same ancient civilization that inhabited Olduvai.

Most unexpected celebrity cameo? Kirstie Alley.

Sarge and the other Marines are soon involved in a sweep of the area and discover a few bodies and a few creeped-out scientists. It’s not long, however, before they start running into some of the unfriendlier inhabitants who seem to suffer from bad cases of the dropsies, the oozies, the uglies and the gotta-rip-you-into-a-million-piecies. In typical fashion, the Marines start dropping one by one Romero-style until only Sarge, Reaper and a couple of others are left. They then discover that the monsters they’re running into are in fact the scientists that they were looking for who have been mutated by a genetic experiment gone bad that’s being run at the facility. One of them eventually gets back to Earth and leaves a nice, bloody body count for the surviving Marines. A twist then leads to a (ahem) Smackdown being laid upon monsters and Marines alike and the nifty first-person homage to the video game provides a ringside seat to the ending carnage.

Reaper had a machine gun. His sister had two 38s…

Although a decent watch in terms of fun action, decent gore and plenty of F-bombs, Doom is highly derivative of so many properties that one would need an abacus to keep count. It brings next to nothing original in terms of plotline and the characters are virtual Xeroxes of characters in other movies. For instance, take the basic premise: soldiers being sent to battle monster(s). The most obvious parallels are Aliens, and Resident Evil, to name a few, but the most glaring similarities are to of course, Predator. The Rock is channeling his best Dutch, and there’s actually a Mac, a brother named Duke (Bill Duke, get it), The Kid and a pervert named Portman (different sides of Hawkins), another large brother named Destroyer with a mini-gun (Blaine), and a Jesus freak named Goat (okay, there was no Jesus freak in Predator, but for all we know, the Predator himself was Born Again…). Hell, there’s even an “If it breathes (bleeds), (we can) kill it” line.

Unfortunately for The Rock, he was the first to test out Vince McMahon’s new Ass Spash Cam during his match with the Big Show…

The monsters, IMHO, are fun, nasty-looking creepy crawlies, and I’m still on the fence if they should have been better shown or stuck to the dark more. I like that for the most part, they went with man-in-suits, which is always preferable. Doom does dip a little too much into the cheap-scare-via-animal route (re: monkey, dog), but it’s nicely over-the-top in terms of gore and balls-to-the-wall action in places. I generally dig the choices The Rock is making in his career so far, and he was even offered the lead role of Grimm, but elected to take the slightly lesser role of Sarge, although you’d never he’s a lesser character by the way Rock chews up the scenery. I also dig Karl Urban’s stuff lately. I was wishing for a little more Vaako to Grimm, but that’s just my own preference I suppose. The rest of the cast, although kiddie pools in terms of depth, are about what you’d expect for people born to be toe tags. Since this is Doom, I was a little disappointed in the lack of use of the Bio Force Gun and other more advanced weapons. Might have been cooler to equip the entire unit with more high tech arms instead of including the BFG as seemingly an afterthought.

"Stone Cold is one dead motherf&$^#$."

Doom is a beast that trudges through its 105 minutes with no apologies for being a dumb, bloody popcorn flick. As for the much-ballyhooed first person shooter sequence, it’s a gimmick, but it’s one that works for the most part. I thought it might even have been interesting to actually use it a little more during the course of the flick. One thing that gets me however, is that this offering is the unrated, extended edition, and I’ll be damned if I could tell where the extra footage was. According to the disc cover, it was in the first person sequence. If that’s so, the extra footage is so minimal as to be almost an insult to the intelligence. Still, Doom‘s a pretty fun way to gnaw on a couple of hours.

6.9 out of 10

The Look

Blessed 2:35 to 1. Surprisingly, with the amount of darkness afoot, there was hardly any artifacting, which is always a good thing. The creature effects were definitely better than average and hardly any CGI, which just doesn’t belong in a splatter-fest such as this.

7.6 out of 10

So this is how they convinced The Rock to be in this flick?

The Noise

The music by Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream, Sahara) is suitably eerie and high energy when called on to be so. The splatter is also suitably prevalent and the Dolby Digital 5.1 doesn’t disappoint either.

7.5 out of 10

The Goodies

This disc offers the boilerplate behind-the-scenes featurettes including Basic Training, a 10-minute piece on the standard boot camp and weapons training that actors have to undergo to prepare for a flick of this type. There’s also Rock Formation, a five-minute showing of the make-up process to turn Dwayne into a monster, and also, Master Monster Makers a cool little piece on the rather impressive monster effects used in the movie. First Person Shooter Sequence is a six-minute behind-the-scenes that details the third act gimmick of using Doom‘s first person camera angle to kick some monster ass. The longest featurette is Doom Nation, which goes into the origins of the game. Finally, Game On! is a quickie tutorial on Doom 3 and there’s a Doom 3 XBox Demo. As a Playstation owner, however, I’m fairly sick of Xbox demos. Where’s the PS2 love?

6.6 out of 10

Upon closer inspection of that Floating Bubble Opera thing in Episode III, an unexpected Chronicles of Riddick crossover is discovered…

The Artwork

Better than the first person shooter / Thing theatrical one sheet. Rock giving nice “fuck with me and you’re meat” look. But I wonder why Grimm is so fudged up and the Rock looks like he hasn’t even tagged in yet?

6.3 out of 10

Overall: 7.0 out of 10