It's weird, how long we waited for the DOOM movie. Years. And we were pretty sure it was going to star Bruce Campbell. So we finally get a DOOM movie, and we universally go, "Eh". And not necessarily because it didn't star Bruce Campbell.
For the recently-rescued shipwreck victims who have no idea what we mean by DOOM: it was the breakthrough first-person shooter computer game. It combined fledgling technology with immersive gameplay and the shareware distribution model and became an overnight sensation. The player him-or-herself seems to be carrying a variety of weapons, gunning down a never-ending horde of demons, all issuing from a teleportation experiment gone awry which has opened a gateway to Hell. It was a phenomenon when first released, and birthed more imitations than a person should reasonably attempt to play in a lifetime – but I certainly tried.
First: realize that the rather spare story – which ran to a text page every six levels or so – has largely gone by the wayside. The locale remains the same – an industrial complex on Mars. The shooters remain the same – Marine Special Ops. But the demons have become the result of bioengineering experiments gone bad, the gate to Hell which must be closed is now a teleporter to Earth that must be safeguarded, and Bruce Campbell has become The Rock. Much as I like The Rock, these are not necessarily good changes.
The overall effect, with the rote bioengineering McGuffin, the running around dark corridors and shooting things, the ambience of a one-off action flick, is of a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie with a better budget, star power, and – given the unrated version – more gore. Is it entertaining? Once. Perhaps twice. Is it DOOM? Well, sorta. The actors are game, the direction sleek, but the story and situation definitely creak as they move on their predestined path.
This is a dark, dark movie, but the viewer never has a problem determining what's going on. Sound is nicely enveloping. Running under the menu is a portion from the First Person Shooter section of the film – a 5 ½ minute POV sequence tricked up to look like the original game, except with better - dare I say, more lifelike (snicker) - graphics.
The disc has a slew of short featurettes, but without the benefit of a Play All, you'll be sitting through the logo for New Wave Entertainment far too many times.
Basic Training covers the process of teaching the actors to use and maintain weapons, as well as working together as a squad. Rock Formation details prosthetic makeup work on star The Rock, and Master Monster Makers is the usual piece on makeup effects. First Person Shooter Sequence details the preparations for that segment, including the entire thing, out of context.
The rest are more game-based; Doom Nation features sound bites from game designers and celebrities from G4TV talking about the game's various iterations, and Game On! Is a series of tips for playing Doom 3. Speaking of which, if one owns an Xbox, one can insert this DVD and play a demo level. Which makes me somewhat wish I owned one; though the movie really isn't DOOM, it is close enough to remind me how much I enjoyed the game, and how long it has been since I last played it, or anything like it.
Dr. Freex, 5/14/2006