Saturday, February 7, 2009

DOOM (2005)

The Movie: Doom

Year: 2005

Format Viewed: DVD (Unrated Edition)

Premise: The year is 2046. The place, a research facility on the planet Mars. Something happens. Something critically bad. A special-ops force is sent, from Earth via transmaat portal, to investigate. All hell breaks loose.

The Reality: The basic plot has been recycled so many times over the years that it's best to just say this movie fits into the "Alien knock-off" sub-genre of sci-fi and leave it at that.

The Story: A group of soldiers are sent into a volatile situation involving aliens but aren't fully briefed on the situation. After searching the top secret facility, encountering alien strangeness, a cat and mouse chase ensues with the hostiles. We've seen it all before; wash, rinse, repeat.

Assessment/Verdict: I have one complaint: It's too dark. Granted exploring dark rooms was a big deal in the game but, in the movie, it's a eyesore. I mean, c'mon, just take a look at this random screen cap. .

And now, for comparison, a relatively well lighted scene. .

Movies are a visual medium and for them to work the audience needs to be able to SEE the action. The game had gamma correction and most players probably cranked it up, I know I did. You can crank the brightness up but the movie doesn’t look right. It's annoying! That said the extras were okay but mostly seemed to be targeted at XBOX gamers. So if you're not into XBOX the extras are kind of lame.

Being a fan of the SF genre with a few years worth of movie watching under your belt can be handy, if you're a reviewer, but if all you want to do is just watch a movie it can be a curse. A curse because it's hard not to notice that this movie is RESIDENT EVIL takes a MISSION TO MARS. It could even be called a retread of PREDATOR in a ALIEN inspired setting. Similarities with movies like THE TERROR WITHIN, CREEPOZOIDS, or HYBRID are easy to spot but DOOM is actually far more reminiscent of ALIENS; perhaps too much so.

But what readers really want to know is how well the movie stacks up to A) the FPS computer game on which it was based and, B) if it's worth watching.

As for "B" there is nothing really original here, yet it's not quite like any of the movies in it's genre. So if you like these sorts of movies, and I do, then yes it's worth watching. However, as for "A", plot wise this is nothing at all like the game. To me DOOM, the movie, seemed more like an retelling of a old 3D FPS from Apogee, BLAKE STONE (1993), or perhaps Capstone's somewhat similarly themed CORRIDOR 7 (1994). . .

Both were fun first-person shooters that came out roughly the same time the original DOOM, and it's game engine, was gaining popularity. (It was the Guitar Hero of the 90s.) From what I recall Blake Stone's plot followed a rather Bond-esque hero slash agent who was sent to infiltrate the space station of the megalomaniac villain where he ends up fighting human soldiers genetically altered as part of a world domination scheme, or maybe it was an alien virus that got loose, either way there were soldiers/guards and weird critters to shoot. Corridor 7's back story involved, IIRC, an alien artifact (discovered on Mars) brought back to a secret military base on Earth that, of course, turns out to be a portal device. Once activated the aliens invade the base and you, as the last surviving soldier, are humanity's first and last hope to fend them off. Doom's back story, as I remember it, involved a dimensional portal opening a gateway to Hell and demons. Unlike Corridor 7 the action took place entirely on Mars.

I have to admit that I probably played a lot more of Blake Stone and Corridor 7 than I ever did of Doom so it's no surprise the movie really doesn't capture Doom as I remember it. Then again I never really played multiplayer mode as my then system just couldn't handle it. So while I thought having the movie center on a cooperative team, which Doom was really the first FPS to do, was a nice touch the rest of the movie didn't resonate with me as being Doom.

Part of the problem is the basic premise of the plot was changed, specifically from humans battling demon spawn to humans battling genetically mutated humans. I thought it a bit odd the producers would make a change mimicking the premise of RESIDENT EVIL, then perhaps that was point. Alas Doom fans will probably want to pass on this. However, if you're a fan of sci-fi, especially the whole "humans vs. alien monsters" sub-genre, and can forgive the movie changing so much of the basic premise of Doom, or never played Doom, then this may be worth renting.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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