Doom (2005)

Doom (2005)

No one gets out alive

After contact is lost with a research base on Mars, a team of marines is sent to investigate and find out what happened.

 

Out of all of the video games that have been turned into films, the easiest of the bunch to turn into a watchable sci-fi / horror flick should have been one of the titans of the gaming industry – the highly influential Doom. With an easy storyline, lots of weird and deadly creatures, some dark and creepy settings, some kick ass weapons and lots of old school computerised gore, Doom was a groundbreaking game. It was the revolutionary first-person shooter game which gave birth to a new genre, spawned numerous clones and which in turn have become some of the most popular and biggest selling games of all time. So why is it that this flimsy film adaptation finds it necessary to change the formula that made the games so influential?

The problems with video game conversions is that what makes the games so successful is the interactivity with the user and it’s something that can’t be replicated on the big screen. Watching video game conversions is like watching someone else come around your house and play on the game for hours whilst you sit and watch. What may be mildly interesting at first becomes a chore as you just want the other person to finish quickly so that you can get back on again.

Doom is probably the best example yet of the hollow video game conversion where I am sure making it was a lot more fun than actually watching it. The game is not known for its complicated story and in fact the opposite is true – the game is so simple and free of a major story that the game plays perfectly as your unnamed soldier wanders around blowing crap out of various demons. Adding loads of scientific mumbo jumbo and explaining the whole thing as Martian experimentation just adds unnecessary layers to the film.

The monsters in the game were originally let loose from Hell so for the film to cut out this aspect just turned them into generic space monsters that we’ve all seen before in the numerous Alien clones. Or perhaps even worse, not actual monsters but the mutated science team who have been injected with Martian chromosomes. Why can’t we just have Hell spew forth it’s minions to destroy our world? The monsters that are presented here are so unmemorable and look nothing like any of them from the game. As unmemorable as they are, at least the monsters look good with traditional make-up effects being used for some of the more human ones. Ditching CGI for these old school methods gets a plus from me any day.

I wish they’d have used these make-up effects for a bit more gore though as the film is lacking in the red department. Given how bloody the game was, to turn this into a watered-down kid-friendly version is a big mistake especially considering the audience that grew up on Doom are infinitely a lot older than the low 15 rating this got in the UK.

Even the setting doesn’t really fit. This base is apparently on Mars but apart from an odd scene here and there at the start, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish this base from any numerous underground bunkers or space stations you’ve seen in the aforementioned Alien clones. Although never mind Alien, Doom is more akin to Aliens than anything else and shares so many similarities with Cameron’s classic then you might as well just go back and watch that. The set design is ripped from there and apart from the main two, the rest of the marines are just as expendable. I thought they were basing this film on the game and not trying to remake Aliens? The game has so many unique and mysterious levels that could easily have been replicated but I guess once the ‘opening of Hell’ story was thrown away, the rest of the film had to change accordingly. The best part of the film is the throwaway ‘first person shooter’ scene in which the film runs like a version of the game where you only see things from the viewpoint of the main character as he makes his way through some corridors, dispatching whatever creature comes his way. It sounds good on paper and looks alright for about a minute before it overstays its welcome. Some things are best left off in the video game.

This is not an actor’s film either which means that whoever fulfilled the lead roles was going to be up against it with a poor script and taking a back seat to the special effects and monsters. The Rock can hold his own in action films (see The Scorpion King) but even here is wasted here as ‘Sarge’ who’s sole purpose in the film is to blow stuff up and then turn psycho later on in the film. He shows some glimpses of his charisma throughout.

Karl Urban makes for a serviceable support actor but again his character gets a few more lines than everyone else and is basically there to blow stuff up too. The only one not cast to blow stuff up is Rosamund Pike who plays the token female scientist (after all, cute female scientists in peril are infinitely more interesting and worth saving than stuffy old men with glasses, aren’t they?). She’s also the ‘plot explainer’ so when she’s not screaming in fear, she’s explaining to the characters (and thus the audience) what has been going on and why these creatures are running amok. While not overly stunning, she’s got this undeniable attraction about her.

 

Blowing monsters up is infinitely more fun to play on your own console than it is to watch it on the big screen. Doom seems to have used only the name from the video game, thrown in a few token nods to its fans and decided to go off on a tangent and become the lovechild of Aliens and Resident Evil. It’s not entirely unwatchable but it’s almost too generic to even register on my hate list.

 

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One single comment

  1. Jeff says:

    I didn’t like it either. Nothing like the video game.

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