Squad based action monster movie.
Trivia Doom is based heavily on the current PC and Xbox hit Doom 3, including everything from weapon, monster and clothing design, to little things like like having the same big button door locks. A couple of the incidental background characters make guest appearances in the game too.
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10th Feb 06
A group of scientists unleash something horrible on Mars, so The Rock and his marines pile in to sort it out, guns blazing.
If you know anything about video games, then you’ll know Doom. Released originally as freeware in the very early nineties much to the appreciation of university and office slackers anywhere, it later went on to become a massive worldwide PC hit, which in turn spawned several sequels that have inevitably moved on to pretty much every console worth it’s salt. The appeal was obvious; it was by far the smoothest, most intuitive and most fun to play entry in the young first-person shooter (FPS) genre of gaming, which basically involved running around 3D environments (caves, spaceships, Martian outposts, that kind of thing) blasting the hell out of big monsters or, even better, each other. What could be more fun? I have fond memories of vodka fuelled Doom nights on linked up Playstations in the mid-nineties and I’m sure other gamers will have similar stories to tell. What a game, “Tch-tching, Boom!”
So I suppose, with the Doom franchise worth umpteen millions now, a movie tie-in was always on the cards. This I find quite amusing; a video game where space marines run down corridors blasting monsters coming out of the walls with cool sci-fi machine guns, being made into a movie. Well, the easy answer to that is I think they’re 20 years too late. But then again it is Doom, and we’ve been playing it in its various incarnations for over a decade now, so should we cut it some slack? Yeah, I think we should.
The plot is very straight forward. A group of scientists at a remote research centre on Mars have been meddling with DNA and chromosomes and what have you to try and discover a way to cure all known disease, but as always scientists never learn and it all goes disastrously wrong. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and his team of marines are given strict orders to go save as many people as possible and kill all the monsters, so they dutifully step through the Earth to Mars Ark Transporter (some kind of cool teleporter left behind by an ancient civilisation) and it’s business as usual. Cue lots of pointing flashlights down long sci-fi corridors looking for monsters while the star actors do their best to flesh out their characters in the background, until ultimately the monsters show themselves and mayhem ensues. Marines fire their guns, monsters fight back with big nasty slimy teeth and the crowd cheers; nothing unexpected there.
But Doom does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve which slightly lifts it above most movies desperately trying not to look like Aliens. For starters, it has a great opening with scientists getting massacred by a load of monsters coming out of the walls, including a fantastic arm severing when a lady scientist gets stuck in an airlock door. Then it’s straight on the phone to The Rock and his marines who are loaded up and in the shuttle within minutes. And it’s in the shuttle that Doom pulls out its second trick; as each marine picks up his gun it chimes back to him, “Handle ID, Raven!” Or whatever the guy’s name is. In seconds we know each character by name, which is quickly reinforced with some witty marine banter, before it’s through the Ark Transporter and – bang – you’re on Mars. No need for a cantina scene like that one in Aliens then, might as well get straight in on the action.
And the action is pretty good. The scientists, you see, have mostly been turned in to zombies, so we do get quite a bit of zombie blasting action, including three or four pretty cool head explosions. Then there are those demon things that also seem to go for people’s heads, either to knock them off or to pick you up by and swing you around a bit. It’s surprisingly engaging stuff too; because of the introductions in the shuttle you know who Duke, Destroyer, Portman, Goat, etc, are so you do care one way or another when they die. For example, Portman’s an asshole who gave The Kid drugs and Goat is a religious freak-o, so you don’t like either of those. Reaper however is an all-round good guy but with a troubled past (a bit like the guy from Team America whose family was killed by Gorillas) that’s reunited with his sister, a scientist at the station. So you kind of like him. And Duke and Destroyer; you like them too as Duke’s a really sweet guy and Destroyer has the mini-gun, but they’re both black and are inevitably going to die saving the white guys, so you know not to invest in them too much.
Of course the movie does have its problems. To pull a meaningful story out of a script which involves pointing flashlights up and down corridors and blasting monsters, you’d have to be some kind of genius. Don’t expect to be moved here as that’s just not what this film’s about. From an action blast perspective however, Doom is a lot more fun than a lot of its ilk. The sets are obviously big budget and the gore is pretty good. The camera work, while nothing spectacular, nicely pays homage to the movie’s video game heritage, sweeping along into tight corners using that FPS view point that we gamers are all used too. And also one point the movie shifts in to actual full-on FPS mode for a good quarter of an hour or so, which turns out to be a lot better than it sounds. If you’ve ever wanted to see a marine’s eye view of a chainsaw fight with a monster pig with wheels for back legs, you’re in for a treat.
Yes it’s pretty cheesy, there is too much pointing flashlights down dark corridors looking for monsters and the plot is essentially a predictable journey from set piece to set piece, but if you like to watch marines blast expensive monsters with big guns, you’ll have a lot of fun with Doom. But don’t expect anything more. Oh, and for you guys out their that have played Doom 3 through on PC or Xbox, all the marines in this can point their flashlights and shoot their gun at the same time, and The Rock does acknowledge that B.F.G. stands for ‘Big Fucking Gun’. Sweet.
Versions Go for the region 1 unrated widescreen version, you owe it to yourself.
8th Jun 05 For a 15 certificate film this is quite a gory picture, with stabbings and body parts being removed willy-nilly, plus a head-smashing scene which isn’t that far removed from the ones that caused so much...