Fans of the original 1993 PC game ‘Doom’ and its sequels are sure to be amused by the antics of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Karl Urban as they go head-to-head with the mutant scientists, dobermans and marines in the big screen adaptation. Whilst sporting an unintelligent, unoriginal and uninspired plot, the use of First Person Shooter gimmickry and lots of bullets make this a fun excursion to an underground research facility on Mars.
Buried under the Martian surface, but aligned with the mysterious portal ‘The Ark’ that allows Mars-Earth travel instantaneously but was built by creatures of unknown origins, lies the research station that is about to unleash a cavalcade of monsters on an unwitting human public. The only thing that can stop them is a band of marines lead by Sarge (The Rock) and Reaper (Urban), who travel to Mars to contain the mutants and stop anything returning to Earth.
Complicating matters is the presence on Mars of Reaper’s twin sister, who as an employee of the Union Aerospace Corporation has questionable motivations, and the tension between siblings enhances this further. Almost immediately they arrive, however, the marines start getting picked off, and we meet all manner of creatures, hungry for flesh.
That this set-up is absurd is not the point. Nor is the fact that the tension between Reaper and his sister, or Reaper and Sarge, is trite and shallow. The point is the shooting of many, many rounds of bullets, and Sarge’s use of the BFG. (‘Bio Force Gun’ in the film – although Sarge helpfully renames it ‘Big Fucking Gun’ in case we were uncertain of its heritage as a beloved weapon from the game.) This is a very silly film, full of pop-science about genomes and chromosomes, and seems to have been made predominantly to show off some great creature effects.
For anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the game, many similarities exist, and many things will be known in advance. Certain characters’ future roles will be obvious, for example. For anyone who has ever seen an action film before, the likely order of death of team members and eventual survivors will also seem clear from the outset.
The action sequences are reasonably handled, although they’re often hard to follow, being shot in the darkened passages of the station and then edited in the ‘rapid cut & handheld’ style I find abhorrent. That said, there are several great moments of shock, and one fight scene between human and monster that Stuart will love for its reality-based approach.
The dynamic between Urban and The Rock? Well, let’s just say that The Rock has his pants pulled down by Urban, who seems only half switched on himself. Their relationship is surprising, although the eventual outcome between them is not. The remainder of the cast, played by nobodies, are all lumped with uni-dimensional caricatures, and appear onscreen accordingly.
The most game-like aspect of this film occurs with the five minute extended sequence of first person shooter style action. This is so much fun, and for anyone who has ever enjoyed a FPS game it will be immensely enjoyable. The dipping, reloading, and firing of the weapon – and the use of a chainsaw, yeah! – reminded me so much of the original game, and I simply adored this section.
While Doom is hardly worthy of the title ‘film’, it remains fun to those of us who have ever shot at mutant zombies or aliens in anger. Whether it will appeal to those not weaned on such fare remains to be seen, but if you grew up fighting your way through Martian research stations like I did, this may be for you.Rating: