Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring The Rock, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Deobia Oparei, Ben Daniels, Razaaq Adoti, Richard Brake
Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Released by Universal Home Entertainment
Movies based on video games tend to suck. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe it's because a key story element is left out here, or the characters don't look like they should there. Whatever the reason, something always goes wrong along the way. When a movie based on the smash video game phenomenon known as Doom was announced, things sounded promising. But for Doom to work as a movie, it needed to have all of the key elements of the game. It had to be dark, scary, and violent as hell. Then more interesting news started trickling in. The film would have nothing to do with demons escaping from Hell and attacking the living. Excuse me? That's what Doom was all about! Fans immediately started crying foul. How could this happen? Why would such a major plot device be left out, especially with the involvement of the game's designers? The filmmakers took action. We were assured that the film version of Doom would be just as dark and unapologetic as we needed it to be. Fans at a QuakeCon convention were then treated to some amazing first person-like movie footage that showed exactly what we needed to see: big guns, big monsters, and buckets of gore. Saints be praised.
For the uninitiated, Doom's storyline is a fairly simple one. The shit hits the fan at a space station on Mars, and a group of Marines are sent in to clean up the monstrous mess. This part of the story holds true from video game to the big screen, but one cannot deny the glaring mistake of omitting the gateway to Hell has been opened storyline in favor of a mutant chromosome outbreak. For the life of me I cannot understand this decision. The film does a lot to make its reasoning even more convoluted.
Throughout the movie there are numerous religious references and more than a few mentions of Hell. For instance, our Marines are known as The Hellfighters. The gateway between Earth and Mars is known as The Ark. One of the Marines named Goat (how's that for devilish innuendo) carves tiny crosses into his body every time he takes the Lord's name in vain. Characters spurt lines like "You have to face your demons sometime" or "This place is Hell". When one of the Marines is attacked, he is said to have been talking about good and evil, angels and devils before he succumbed to his wounds. See what I mean? All the groundwork is there; why not just go all the way? As a fan of the game and an avid gamer, it's hard not to ask, "What the fuck?" This may sound like a small gripe, and truth be told, it both is and isn't. That's kind of how the film itself works. On some levels it's everything that we as genre fans could want. It's just those damned liberties taken with the storyline that leaves this bad taste.
Doom doesn't do everything wrong in terms of being faithful to the game. The settings are nearly exact. The UAC logos on the computer screens, the dark pipe-filled hallways, and even the monsters themselves are pulled directly from the source material. Even The Rock's portrayal of Sarge is just as hardened as one would imagine the lead character being. There is a lot to like. The spirit of the game -- that closed in and in deep shit feeling -- translates nicely. The best thing by far in the film is the first person shooter sequence (also included in the special features in its entirety). With a runtime of about five and a half minutes, it's impossible for any gamer not to geek for this sequence. It's a great nod to the video game and a gift for fans.
You've all been waiting and wondering. What's the deal with this Unrated Extended Version. Is it more than a couple of extra scenes? Does it deliver the goods? It absolutely does. The gore is much more prevalent, and we get a good look at stuff before the camera cuts away. A few seconds here and there can really sell an effect. There are also some additional scenes of exposition that flesh the story out a bit more. All these factors add up to deliver a much more cohesive product. Doom plays a helluva lot better in this newer cut, and I found myself having fun while watching it. How can you not give a good old-fashioned nod to a film in which the one handicapped character gets picked up, wheelchair and all, and is used as a weapon? Is that in good taste? Not even close. In fact, it's pretty damned politically incorrect, but that's what we've all loved about the Doom franchise since its inception.
The DVD and the Blu-ray are loaded with a good balance of special features. From the crash course the actors got in weaponry to the creature F/X, everything is covered in detail. Speaking of the creature F/X, I have to tell you it's really badass to see actual physical effects used instead of CGI. These things are onscreen, pissed off, and super menacing. A movie based on a game could have easily gone the CGI route. Kudos to the filmmakers for giving us the goods! Also on the disc is a featurette based on the game itself that even includes some gameplay tips. Missing in action, however, is a commentary. This is the feature I feel fans really needed, if only for the hope of getting a real answer for the now infamous "Why no Hell?" question.
For us hi-def junkies I'm sad to say the only Blu-ray exclusive is the inclusion of BD-Live, via which you can share your favorite chapters with My Scenes Sharing or log onto the Universal web destination for links to info on other studio Blu-ray titles. The movie itself though looks stellar in 1080p, and if that's what matters to you, dive in. For the casual fan the DVD alone should more than suffice.
All in all, this is a good package for a good film. The movie hits its mark much more than it misses. If you're a fan of the game, you may be disappointed on some levels, but for the casual gorehound looking for that blood-drenched and nasty fix, Doom is one Hellof a good time.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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