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DOOM

2005, dir. Andrzej Bartkowiak
100 min, Rated R.
Starring: Flex Kavana, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike.

Review by Beth Van Dusen

Movies based on video games are notorious for being awful. I believe Noel even wrote an article detailing the badness, but like a fool I gave Doom a chance anyway. I knew I wasnít about to see a good movie by any means, but I at least expected it to be entertaining. You know, the kind of mindless action/horror movie perfect for a Saturday night after throwing back a few drinks. I donít know if I could stomach the amount of alcohol it would take to make Doom any fun at all.

Doom takes place on a scientific research station on Mars at the site of an abandoned city. Something goes horribly wrong (as things are wont to do), and all communication with Earth has stopped. A group of space marines are called in to investigate only to find that the only scientist still alive is the sister of one of its members. She has discovered that the original people on Mars had engineered a 24th chromosome that made them super-human, but also turned some of them into the monsters. (Why donít scientists ever perform experiments to take away chromosomes in movies? 21: The Slobbering sounds like a film I could really get excited about. What could be more fun than special needs zombies?) Now we know why the city was abandoned. Thereís always a good reason for ancient cities to be deserted, and yet people always manage to find a reason to go anyway. ďSomething extremely unpleasant happened to the people who used to live here? Well, letís go check it out because the same thing couldnít possibly happen to usĒ. Iím sorry, but Iíve seen enough movies like this to know that Iím going to live a lot longer if I stay the hell home.

After far too much set up the monsters and zombies appear, and begin snacking on the marines. The nasties either kill you, or shove something into your neck to make you one of them. First you die, then you become a zombie, and finally you mutate into a big scary monster. Itís really quite needlessly complicated.

Just before the marines hit Mars weíre told that their guns are equipped with something called a ďkill camĒ. You think that these cameras are going to allow you to see some of the action from the gameís first person perspective. Wrong. The only time you get that first person p.o.v. shot that theyíre hyping in the commercials is one scene near the end. The only marine still alive gets a shot of super juice, and goes to town on the monsters. This part actually works pretty well, but itís over far too fast. Then the marine has to slow down to fight his former commanding officer turned zombie.

Doom has the dark tone of the game, but not the creepy ambience. Watching people fight monsters in the dark should have some tension, but here it just feels like laziness. After all, you donít have to put as much into special effects if itís dark. Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings) is decent, but itís really hard to mess up a two dimensional character. The Rockís character has just one dimension, and as a result he doesnít really put out too much effort. Some of the monsters look good, but once again, thatís not saying much considering the lighting. The zombies are too few and far between to really matter because most of the people quickly mutate into something much nastier. But then, there are rarely enough zombies to satisfy my tastes.

It really shouldnít come as too much of a surprise that a movie based on a video game with probably less than 100 words of dialogue wasnít good. Movies based on comic books used to suck too. Maybe someday the video game movies will catch up, but it looks like that day is still a long way off.


Rating: Two out of five Brains.

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