As if Hollywood wasn’t accused of stealing paper-thin plots for throwaway sequels, prequels and TV remakes, it seems that video games are now also fair game for the cookie-cutter industry. “Super Mario Brothers,” “Resident Evil” and other such films have defined the genre, and now, the controversial classic kill-fest video game “Doom” is the basis of a live-action film. In the spirit of the original game, the film stays true to its gory vigor by blowing away anything that so much as twitches.
There is supposedly a compelling story of good versus evil here. About to take a leave of absence, a group of Marines receive a last-minute call from their commander, Sarge, played by the occasionally engaging former professional-wrestling star The Rock, better known as Dwayne Johnson (“Be Cool”), a distress signal has been sent from a Mars research facility where we learn, “all Hell is breaking loose.” Adhering to the original game’s purpose, character development is an afterthought, because shooting first and asking questions later is clearly much more fun.
The Marines encounter beings beyond comprehension – or so we must assume because they seldom appear on screen for more than a shake of the camera. Shady experimentation has apparently been going down, but once the guns start blazing and the creatures appear, there’s little else to care about. Karl Urban’s (“The Bourne Supremacy”) Reaper character has some shred of an emotional arc, but other than this detached attempt at humanity, all of the characters here are vacuous to the point that it’s difficult to care about their danger. What made the game so involved was the fact that it involved players, worried for their own lives, trying to survive.
One of the points used to try and sell this film was the fact that several minutes of it are shot in the first-person shooter style, a video game staple made famous by the game “Doom.” But on film this results in a really corny haunted-house experience, with ghoulish figures popping out. Remember the kid with the spooky mask purchased at Wal-Mart, scaring classmates by screaming “boo?” Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Basically, this is a noisy, incoherent and just plain lousy film. Released near Halloween to scare up audiences, there’s little to get tense about. We are essentially left with a poor man’s rendition of “Aliens” or “Predator,” mashing their components in an exercise in violence, meaningless foul language and other R-rated extremities with no depth or meaning. Try “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Halloween” or even the original game instead. There’s plenty more thrills to be found elsewhere.
Film Review: 1/2 star out of 5 stars