Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Raz Adoti, Al Weaver, The Rock
How do you review a movie like Doom? Why even bother?
Doom is exactly what you think it is -- a noisy, gory, silly movie taken from a video game, populated with disposable cardboard characters running around corridors shooting guns and/or being chased and eaten by nasty monsters. You already know whether it's on your movie-going schedule without reading anything I might have to say about it.
The people I saw it with had been out having a few beers before the screening, which I thought would possibly boost their enjoyment of all these frantic antics. It did not appear to do so.
At its best (a distinctly relative term here), Doom is an efficient -- albeit cheese-encrusted -- replication of the "shooter" style of video game. I can't say that's a recommendation, merely reportage.
A case can be made that at least the film has the courage of its convictions by going for the R rating, allowing for a wide assortment of flying limbs, rolling heads, spurting blood and lingering shots of gooey entrails (the latter suggest nothing so much as a trip to the offal section of a butcher shop). But all that only makes the film mildly amusing in the excess department -- hardly a notable accomplishment. Anyway, the bathful-of-blood-and-bucket-of-giblets aspect isn't sufficiently over-the-top to make even a moderately seasoned horror fan wince. In fact, it's actually pretty ho-hum.
Director Andrzej Bartjowiak demonstrates all the panache he evidenced with the Steven Seagal actioner Exit Wounds, which is to say Bartjowiak keeps it moving and keeps a straight face. The former hardly matters, since what he keeps moving is so uninteresting. The latter, while an accomplishment that must have taken some doing, suggests that he's utterly humorless. Bartjowiak's one clever touch is having the Universal Pictures logo appear over Mars rather than the Earth -- and that's out of the way in the first couple of minutes. After that, his sole claim to creativity is the ridiculously annoying video-game-point-of-view section toward the end -- and, face facts, Uwe Boll already tried that in House of the Dead. The level of trouble you're in when you're down to stealing from Uwe Boll flies right off the scale.
The script by newcomer David Callaham and Wesley Strick (The Glass House) mixes dubious pseudo-science with bland heroics and gut-munching to no real end. There's some attempt to flesh out the characters of John (Karl Urban, The Bourne Supremacy) and his sister, Samantha Grimm (Die Another Day), but this just seems like an intrusion. It's not like we care about these people.
The Rock is ill-served in a role that forgets to make sport of his machoness. I kept hoping he'd morph into a monster that raised one eyebrow, but that was not to be in this boringly typical monsters-on-the-loose shoot 'em up that's ultimately nothing but The Cave set on Mars. Rated R for strong violence/gore and language.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke