Dir: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Release Date: 2005
“A special ops squad investigating a distress signal from a distant planet discovers that mutant aliens have already wiped out most of the population”
Movies based on video games tend not to be particularly good.
To be honest, that’s a very kind statement I just typed right there. Want an example? How about Super Mario Bros? More? Ok, Assassin’s Creed, Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Need for Speed, any of the tomb raider movies, any of the Resident Evil movies. I could go on but let’s save that for a future podcast episode.
The problem with a lot of these movies is the plot. The original Doom game had you running around killing aliens. Lots and lots of aliens. That is all you did for the whole game. Really fun in 1993. But how would that translate into a full-length movie? The game itself was sparse on plot unless you read the manual that came in the case (and who ever did that?)
We had to wait until 2004’s DOOM 3 for more in-depth storytelling and I remember it being said that this film would be based on that very game.
The only similarity is fact its set on Mars, though it might as well not be as we spend the whole movie inside some lab facility and Mars is seen only very briefly at the start.
Instead we have a female voice over who sounds like she’s doing her best impression of Linda Hamilton from Terminator explaining the plot to us right out the gate.
In 2026, Archaeologists have only gone and found a portal in the Nevada Desert that takes you to an ancient city on Mars! Interesting. Why in the Nevada Desert? We never find out. Why to this city on Mars of all places? We never find out.
Cut to the surface of Mars and an exterior shot of a research facility. We hear inhuman screeches followed by human screams. Right into the action! Oh man, what could be happening here? No idea as it turns out. It’s dark as fuck in this place with lots of quick shots of white coats flapping about as people leg it around. Lots of screaming, lots of shots of aged scientists flying off ramps. This place looks like the chemical factory in Batman. I’m just waiting for Jack Nicholson to dance into shot with a boombox and Prince blasting out of it (or Love Shack by the B52’s if you were to believe an old work colleague of mine and Ken’s who swore that was the song playing in the art gallery scene)
LOVE SHACK BABY!
Anyway, some guy called Dr. Carmack gets into the control room and shuts the door, severing the arm of a work colleague in the process (Someone better put it in the accident and near miss book for the health and safety audit)
He logs onto the computer and calls for total lockdown of the site as the doors are smashed open by whatever monster has been chasing them. Fade to black half a beat longer than it should which meant the doors smashed open and you can see the silhouette of the monster but no reaction from the doctor inside. In fact, its total silence which seems like they forgot to add a scream in or something.
We get the title card come up like every title card of action movies in the early 2000’s. It’s on fire. Very cool.
It’s here we meet our heroes, a crack team of marines lead by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an early role so therefore is only credited as “The Rock” in this film.
Of course, seeing as they’re marines they all have the standard nicknames.
· The Rock as Asher “Sarge” Mahonin – Classic nickname here.
· Karl Urban as John “Reaper” Grimm – Badass nickname for the future Judge Dredd actor.
· Deobia Oparei as Roark “Destroyer” Gannon – Oh yes! This guy must be tough!
· Yao Chin as Katsuhiko Kumanosuke “Mac” Takahashi – Always need a “Mac” in these groups. Usually for the token Scotsman of the team, I’ll hedge my bets and say this guy won’t be Scottish. Mental Note: Look out for a guy wearing a kilt over his space suit.
· Raz Adoti as Gregory “Duke” Schofiled – Are you really a squad of marines without someone called “Duke”?
· Al Weaver as Mark “The Kid” Dantalian – He must be the newest member of the team or the youngest. Maybe he’s an outlaw from the old west? Mental Note: Look out for a guy wearing a cowboy hat on top of his space helmet.
· Ben Daniels as Eric “Goat” Fantom – Goat…that’s ….cool? Reaper, Destroyer, Sarge and…..Goat.
· Dexter Fletcher as Marcus “Pinky” Pinzerowski – Well at least Goat is feeling a bit better about his nickname. This guy is just a torso on a spring with wheels attached to it so he can get around. I'm not even joking.
· Richard Brake as Dean Portman – Either wasn’t cool enough for a nickname or Dean Portman is his nickname…?
So, we’ve discussed the plot and the opening scenes along with introducing you to the main characters but what about the rest of the movie?
The problem lies mainly if you’re a fan of the video game. It’s nothing like any Doom you’ve played. It’s more Resident Evil in space rather than what you will have come to expect in Doom. For one thing Doom is a lone wolf kind of game meaning its very much one man against hordes of monsters. In this it’s a squad of people. It captures none of the atmosphere or scares of the games and goes almost entirely for an action movie rather than horror. There’s no demonic imagery or creativity in the design of the monsters used.
Having said that maybe there was demonic imagery all over the place, but you couldn’t tell cause its so bloody dark the whole film its hard to see what’s going on half the time and I'm pretty sure it all takes place in one corridor just with some of the set moved around and different camera angles used.
Speaking of the monsters, I’ve never been a fan of CGI especially bad CGI. Its not great here and the monsters are blatantly guys in rubber alien suits covered in slime. They look like bad guys from the 90’s Power Rangers TV show.
Except for The Rock who turns into Maniac Cop at one point.
If you’ve never played the games you might find this slightly more enjoyable but its got poor production value, paper thin characters and a terrible script (some of the “banter” between the marines at various points is really a sight to behold)
So, with that said it will be right up your alley if you’re on our site!
If this review has piqued your interest you can find it on Netflix (UK)
FAVOURITE CHARACTER: The Rock – Goes full Colonel Kurtz halfway through the movie for some reason, starts killing his own men and that’s before he even turns into Matt Cordell's stunt man! What a character arc! I certainly didn’t see it coming.
FAVOURITE MOMENT: Destroyer swinging a PC monitor over his head attacking a man in a rubber alien suit complete with strobe lighting affects and electrified fences all around them.
The Kid: Is it always that rough?
Pinky: Believe me, it used to be a lot rougher. There was a time when Ark travel was susceptible to, let's say major turbulence.
The Kid: What's he mean?
John Grimm: He means he went to one galaxy, his ass went to another.
FAVOURITE DEATH: Dean Portman – In the toilet. Gets dragged up and slammed against the sides of the cubicle walls whilst hanging upside down. This somehow kills him whilst he screams “Oh Jesus” in a high-pitched voice. Dexter Fletcher looks on perplexed at his monitor showing this image to the left. I don’t blame him