rated R (strong violence/gore & language)
1 hr. & 40 min.
directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
written by: David Callaham & Wesley Strick
Last week some of the fellas and I went out to the Tuesday night $5.00-free parking-free popcorn special at our local theatre. Parked our brains and watched the latest sci-fi video game translation to screen. You gotta know what you're goin' into when you make the decision to see these types of flicks. It cracks me up when people gripe and complain that a movie like DOOM was rotten. I mean that's one of the reasons trailers exist, so you can kinda make up yer mind, ya know? (My wife and I make it a tradition to do the whole thumbs up/thumbs down review after each trailer when we're at the movies.) When I first saw the trailer, I thought, "Ah, looks just okay but fun. I'll check it out with the fellas," and that's exactly what happened.
For those of you who have no idea what DOOM is or about or never played the classic FPS video game (which really is pretty creepy!) here's the deal: Communication with researchers within the Olduvai station on Mars has gone mysteriously dead. From the desperate sound of the last scrambled message from the research facility received....life on the red planet doesn't look so good. Of course this warrants an investigation by the most elite strike force team man has ever assembled, right? Mmhmmm. Okay, so some hideous creatures with apparent ties to the facility's genetic testing (why? why is it always about genetic testing?) is loose up there and killing off whomever. Enter the RRTS (Remote Response Tactical Squad), the uber-Marines that get to the bottom of this mystery with the help of their massive weaponry. The nightmares the team encounters as they search around every dark tunnel are nothing compared to what type of horrific work they discover has occured all in the name of science. Nevertheless, their job is simple: seal off the portal to Earth and make sure nothing gets out alive. Simple.
Maybe that's what the creators of this movie thought. Take a popular video game and make it into a blockbuster movie. Sounds good. I'm sure it sounded good to Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo for the Super Mario Bros. movie back in 1993 too. Heh. Okay, I'll be fair. DOOM wasn't as bad as that mistake but it didn't feel like it was giving me a new perspective from the game or anything anti-formulaic. I'm not gonna be too critical of the movie cuz, as I mentioned above, I knew what I was going into when I bought my ticket. I knew it was based on a video game and I knew it gonna be kinda like Aliens. I knew all that and I was fine to expect just that....you see that way if there's anything new and original about the movie, I can be pleasantly surprised.
The obligatory introduction scenes of characters in a movie should give the viewer some type of investment in the actors you'll be watching throughout the film. This can be done in many ways but in this film we first see Sarge (The Rock) sitting at his computer shirtless in all the Rock's muscle-bound glory with a wide Semper-Fi tattoo stretched across his upper back. This scene got a wave of laughter in the theater. Probably cuz we all thought, "What other way are they gonna introduce a tough-as-nails Marine played by The Rock?" I'm not making fun of The Rock here. I like him. I think he's a decent actor (more on that in a bit). I suppose in these types of round-up-the-troops-we-gotta-a mission type of movies, there's not gonna be a whole lotta character revelation right away. Although, we do see that there is something to Reaper's (Karl Urban of LOTR) past and it's somehow tied to that facility up there on Mars.
Once the team arrives at the station on Mars there's exposition dialogue informing us what's going on and giving away the soldiers character quirks. We're also introduced to the only female lead character, Dr. Grimm (Rosamund Pike of Die Another Day) and we find out she has a connection to the mysterious Reaver....they're twins! After their parents died mysteriously on an archaeological dig on Mars, she became a bio genetic doctor and he became a Marine. One learns how about life and the other learns how to end it. You can see where there might be some friction between them. While Sarge and the other soldiers are running around blasting creatures away, getting freaked out, and for some (of course) dying, we see these two characters develop into something interesting. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a blow-em-up movie with no character development. It's just nice to see it here.
Although the movie is filled with scenes, characters, and locations I feel we've seen in other movies, there are still some elements I got a kick out of and found interesting and entertaining. I already said I enjoyed the sibling relationship of the two Grimms but I also wanna not that Urban's and Pike's acting kinda carries the movie moreso than The Rock's role. The just have more interesting layers to work with. But The Rock (kinda like Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan) does what he can with the writing given to him. As I mentioned before I think he's a decent actor that we will see stretch in the future which is revealed in the ending twist. He's got a great range of _expression (as seen in Peter Berg's The Rundown) and coming from the world of wrestling, I think he's got a better theatrical grasp then Arnold did when he started out. There's also a kinda wacky, cool space-porting travel device where an individual lets this silvery, reflective blob thingy envelope them and then shot out to space to Mars (and/or back to Earth).
While I enjoyed elements of DOOM, it still wasn't enough to give it a higher rating. The formulaic sending in of the elite soldier due to dire straits has been done before and better. And the scientific whoop-dee-doo theory of these creatures having an extra pair of chromosomes making them superhuman and blah blah blah just wasn't enough for me to care. Overall, it was just a fun night out with the fellas watching control-free video game with a bunch of other people on a giant screen.