Doom Review

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by Casimir Harlow May 5, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    Doom Review
    As CGI has evolved, it has become easier and easier to make decent (at least visually) video-game tie-ins. These range from the debatably entertaining Mortal Kombat to the thoroughly enjoyable Resident Evil adaptations. Less successful efforts have been made by the likes of dire director Uwe Boll, who made the horrendous House of the Dead and equally terrible Alone in the Dark. Returning to Resident Evil - it may not have been wholly innovative, but it was an interesting combination of zombie horror and action movie, with Milla Jovovich thrown into the mix for added pleasure. Doom, much like Resident Evil, was quite an original game, offering a more visceral take on mutant-killing thanks to the brilliant over-use of very big and loud guns. It was also allegedly the first FPS (first person shooter), a style of game which has garnered a whole genre unto itself.

    Set in the near future (I assume), something goes wrong at an archaeological dig site on Mars and a whole bunch of scientists are slaughtered. Enter a crack group of heavily armed Marines who are dispatched to investigate what happened and contain any potential contamination. So far, so Resident Evil. When they arrive, they find dead bodies everywhere, although not everybody is staying dead and there are numerous grotesquely mutated creatures roaming around trying to pick off the Marines one by one. It soon becomes apparent that the mutants are infecting their victims - hence the reason why not everybody is staying dead - and it becomes imperative that the remaining Marines contain the outbreak before it reaches the population back on Earth.

    I'm sorry to say that this is just about one of the least original movies that I have ever seen. Over the total runtime, there's about six minutes' of originality - and if you've played any First-Person-Shooter before (especially Doom, of course), even that does not come as anything new. The story has been done a dozen times before, probably best in Aliens and - in terms of video-game interpretations - in Resident Evil. Even Doom fans are going to be sorely disappointed, with no sign of Hell in this escapade and many of the unusual mutant bad guys missing from the action as well (there are no spider-mutants, mutant children or mutants with split mouths - like the new vampires in Blade 2).

    Despite its unoriginality, it is still moderately enjoyable. The action set-pieces may have been done before but they still manage to be reasonably entertaining, particularly one brutal human versus mutant hand-to-hand scrap and the aforementioned FPS sequence (which everybody appears to be talking about). The trouble is that it is a case of mutton dressed as lamb, a distinctly average b-movie thinking it's much better than it really is.

    Packed full of 2-D cardboard characters that would be better placed in a Seagal movie, the cast could be just as easily substituted. The Rock leads the way, although not in quite the heroic role you might expect from him, playing the gruff Sarge who takes his marines into the chaos. He could have shouted a little more - his orders came across more like polite requests than military barks - but the shooting and fighting is done with suitable aplomb, though this is nowhere near as entertaining as his previous action efforts The Rundown or Walking Tall. The hero of the piece is Karl Urban (who was superb as Matt Damon's relentless adversary in the Bourne Supremacy), one of the marines who has a shell-shocked history in the unit and reluctantly goes back into action when he hears of this latest outbreak.

    Rosamund Pike, a femme fatale from Die Another Day, gets the worst part as a ridiculously token female, a scientist investigating artefacts on Mars whose only response to the mutant threat tends to involve running and screaming. The rest of the assorted characters are generally mutant-fodder and are given little room to do anything other than grunt and crack wise. It is just what you would expect from a basic b-movie or even a modern video game, but not the kind of quality you would find really entertaining in a world that has outgrown the A-Team.

    It should be noted that this is the 'extended' cut of Doom. Having seen the movie in the cinema, I would have expected to be able to pick out more of the extra bits, but much of it comes in the form of extra lines or throwaway scenes. I noticed an extra naked mutant girl towards the beginning of the movie, an extended autopsy scene with more gore, a longer fight in the electric pen, longer death scenes, more swearing, and a longer FPS sequence (although it becomes all much the same after the first few minutes). None of it vastly improves the original movie, although having the extra violence seems more in-line with the style of the production. Overall it is a cheesy, sub-standard b-movie which might entertain you if you're heavily inebriated and have a stack of popcorn to crunch through but which you should definitely go into with low expectations - then at least you're not likely to be disappointed.

    The Rundown

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