directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
(Universal, 2005)

Maybe it's partly because I'm old enough to remember when Doom was the gaming experience of a lifetime and partly because I can't get enough of seeing The Rock layeth the smacketh down on any sentient being, but I loved Doom. I wasn't all that confident at the beginning, though. You've got like seven or eight soldiers going into the battle zone, and that made me wonder how they were going to string this thing out for an hour and 45 minutes. Then there's the fact that the movie drastically rewrites the whole Doom story, from the origin of the alien creatures to the manner in which things ultimately play out. Lest I forget, you also have a couple of incredibly annoying characters you have to just hope are among the first to die.

When all was said and done, though, there was no doubt that I'd enjoyed the heck out of this movie. It wasn't so much all the blood and gore (although blood and gore are always important) as it was the intelligence of the script. Stay with me now, and let me explain. I'm talking context here, and in the context of a cinematic adaptation of a first-person shooter video game, this script is rather exceptional. The original Doom storyline was changed for a purpose here -- and it made for a much better film than it might have been otherwise by taking us beyond a superficial battle of good vs. monstrous evil and allowing for things to play out somewhat differently than I was expecting. The brother-sister relationship (and let me just thank the filmmakers for not putting some kind of trite romance into the mix) that stands near the heart of the story also plays into the conclusion quite well (and, dare I say it, leaves a little wiggle room for a sequel).

While Doom the film isn't just about killing monsters, that's certainly its raison d'etre -- and it does it quite well. Actually, I would have preferred a lot more violence and a few more monsters, but the film does deliver a satisfying number of violent killings on both sides of the conflict. I wouldn't have complained about more usage of the BFG, either (and isn't it nice to hear this weapon called by its true name?). The movie never really approaches any sort of suspense, but the attacks and counter-attacks we do see are quite acceptable. I was a bit disappointed by one decapitation shot, however, as I didn't even realize it was a decapitation until I saw the headless body on the floor. Still, I have no real complaints about the level of violence I saw here -- or the special effects. Sure, most of the action is computer-generated, but it's really well done.

In a sense, the movie is on the predictable side, yet events didn't play out quite the way I expected them to -- and that counts a lot in terms of my personal evaluation. I also appreciated the sequence in which we view the action from a true first-person perspective -- for those few minutes, it almost feels like you're playing a fantastic, futuristic version of the game. Younger folks who never played the game or experienced the thrill of the Doom phenomenon may not appreciate it like us slightly older folks, but I'm sure they'll still find the sequence pretty darn cool. And even if they don't, they still have The Rock to entertain them (although I must say I was disappointed we couldn't get at least one People's Eyebrow in there somewhere). I can't really judge The Rock's acting ability based on this film, as it frankly doesn't require a lot more than acting big and bad all the time, but he certainly comes across as the right man for the role of Sarge.

Obviously, I think Doom is an underrated movie. You expect a lot of big guns, monsters and gore -- and you get them. You get so much more, however, in terms of the storyline -- and that is why I find this film so impressive.

by Daniel Jolley
26 August 2006

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