the first-person shooter, it popularized the concept to such a degree that games in that genre were originally called “Doom clones.” Not to mention the game's overall affect on gaming culture – modding, the controversy, so on and so forth – is hard to overstate. In 2004, “Doom 3” would push the somewhat dormant demon-slaying franchise into more of a survival horror orientated direction. The sequel was a huge success and, before it was even released, a cinematic adaptation entered development. 2005's “Doom,” however, would not replicate the game series' popularity. It came and went from theaters quickly and was soon forgotten.
“Doom” is set around 2046, the filmmakers apparently believing humanity will successfully colonize Mars within the next twenty-six years. The Union Aerospace Corporation has discovered strange fossils of genetically enhanced humanoids near their Martian compound. The lessons learned from those fossils are soon clandestinely applied to humans. This results in an infectious virus sweeping through the compound, turning people already prone to violence into hideous monsters. A group of space marines are sent in to search for and rescue any survivors. Led by “Sarge,” the team is unprepared for the horrors that await them. Emotionally traumatized Sgt. John Grimm, nicknamed “Reaper,” emerges as the unlikely hero.
Its story largely boils down to “A gateway to Hell is opened on Mars and then a bad-ass space marine kills every demon that pops out.” Sadly, screenwriters David Calaham and Wesley Strick expand on that concept in disappointing ways. All references to Hell and demons are removed, much of the series' identity and flavor going with it. This leaves us with another uninspired “Aliens” rip-off, about a group of overconfident space marines going into a facility and being killed off by the creatures there. The game's creature designs are largely discarded too, some of the monsters even looking like xenomorphs. It seems the first “Resident Evil” movie was an influence too, as there are similar scenes of tough dudes firing at zombies.
There's not much attempt to expand past “Aliens'” blueprint, save for mildly clever scenes involving high-tech doors or electrified walls. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak, who previous directed a trilogy of action films starring DMX, does not add much flair to the action scenes. “Doom” is visually a dark movie, far too many scenes devoted to people firing aimlessly into the dark or fumbling around in shadowy rooms. While there are a few acrobatic fight scenes, such as the closing brawl between the hero and villain, most of “Doom's” action is pretty forgettable... Save for a brilliant moment, late in the film, where the camera assumes Reaper's POV. We are then treating to a thrilling, beautifully directed sequence of fighting monsters and blasting demons. As is “Doom” tradition, driving heavy metal blares on the soundtrack and there's even a chainsaw. This one scene is the only time “Doom” really comes to life or, indeed, feels much like its inspiration at all.
“Doom” was made fairly early into the film career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This was back when Johnson's incredible charm was too often shackled to flatly blustering bad-asses. So Sarge is a fairly one-note guy, even after his monster-y face-heel turn. Johnson's still growing acting skills are used to gruffly bark cliché military dialogue. Karl Urban actually attempts some acting as Reaper, trying to add some depth, but he frequently comes off as more confused than conflicted. (Rosamund Pike plays his sister, breathlessly delivering a lot of exposition.) A nice touch has each of the marines giving video game-like nicknames that describe their personalities. So the new-comer is 'The Kid,” the touch black guy is “Destroyer.” You get the idea. Of this lot, a smart-ass Richard Brake is the most entertaining as “Dean.”
A new “Doom” movie is scheduled to come out this year, being released direct-to-DVD. It says a lot about how forgettable this adaptation is that even that belated and low budget follow-up will be unconnected to this movie. [5/10]