Movie Review: DOOM
Sean Drummy reviews the recent movie release of the venerable shooting series DOOM. Is this another motion picture atrocity or an entertaining flick that dishes out justice to the original games, and some demons while we're at it.
If you’re like me, before you go into a movie you expect to see a certain breed of entertainment. I don’t watch a Bond movie for the intellectual engagement and amazing camera work; I also didn’t go into DOOM expecting to see a tear-jerking laugh-till-you-cry, feel-good comedy, either. I accept the context of an action movie for what it is: straight-up violence and, if I’m lucky, some hilariously dark comedy. Both can be essential to being entertained by the less “artsy” films coming out these days. At the same time, if you don’t plan on going into DOOM knowing that it’s going to be a scary action movie with things that go boom and The Rock tearing people to shreds with his bare hands, save the $10 and watch reruns of Seinfeld instead.
True to the Games but Completely Inaccurate?
DOOM walks a fine line between massacring a staple videogame idea and creating a viable, entertaining movie that doesn’t just involve one guy running around and shooting things. Visually, the movie was strikingly similar to DOOM 3. Gamers who have already battled through Hell and back in the most recent DOOM title will no doubt enjoy the movie much more than the tepid first person shooter fan or the non-gamer altogether. The classic door lock screens with their red “Access Denied” message and green “Accepted” display look and sound as if one was sitting in front of their PC playing DOOM 3. Little features such as this hit me over the head from the very beginning of the movie, but there were also far more subtle additions to the movie that made it not only look like the game, but feel like it too. Every weapon, every wall, and every costume matched the game’s eerie aura uncannily well. The dark, industrial look of the Mars installation, with its utilitarian metal walls and unnerving scientific instruments were portrayed precisely the same in the game and the movie. Watching The Rock creep down a ravaged hallway as sounds of heavy breathing, with a broken light flickering, served as the only indication that something very bad was on its way, put the same pit into my stomach as DOOM 3’s excellent crescendos of anxiety.
Another staple aspect of the third DOOM title that came through in all its glory was the awesome foreshadowing players could find strewn about within PDA emails and computer screens. The grin that spread across my face when reading that the UAC facility I had just landed on was mistakenly carrying chainsaws instead of some mundane medical supplies was almost as wide as our faithful DOOM hero had on his face when he picked up the BFG in DOOM II. The same could be said for the movie’s excellent use of this same tacit allusion to the future: upon walking into the “armory,” The Rock finds a locked door and a computer screen displaying the BFG, a massive, mean-looking gun, in 3D. I won’t include any spoilers… but that’s not the last we see of the “Bio Force Gun,” and The Rock also takes the liberty of replacing the BFG’s rather bland name with a title by the same acronym but with an expletive or two. I’ll let your imagination run wild with that one.
Now for the “completely inaccurate” portion of the movie: the plot. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the scriptwriters had to completely can most of the plot from the DOOM games as it wasn’t exactly movie quality: guy with gun…hell with portal to reality…guy sees portal…awesomeness ensues. Instead, a number of new characters are brought into the picture and rather than watch a single marine battle his way through room after room, an entire team of elite marines arrives on Mars to investigate a “disturbance” taking place in a UAC facility. This next sentence may be construed as a spoiler, but I feel obligated to inform hardcore DOOM fans about this: Hell is not in any way involved with the plot. Without going into too much detail, a Resident Evil-like explanation is offered, but rest assured that a few twists and some interesting logic are included to keep things interesting.
Although the plot was completely mauled by Hollywood, the visual and aural likeness of the movie to DOOM 3 was so meticulously crafted that I found it hard to stomp out of the theater and begin ranting on gaming blogs about how videogames-made-movies are always atrocious. And as a cliffhanger for those who are on the fence about seeing DOOM, one of the final action sequences is absolutely incredible and made the entire movie far better than I had originally thought. I don’t want to ruin the surprise – but I’ll just say that the movie becomes so much like the game that if I was to freeze a frame from the movie and look at a screenshot from DOOM 3, I would be hard pressed to differentiate between the two.
The Bottom Line
If you love, or at least have played, any of the DOOMs – especially DOOM 3 – this movie is sure to entertain. If you’re a tepid gamer (which means you probably wouldn’t be reading this review in the first place) or you have a distaste for gore, action movies, or both, by all means pick another film to watch. A ticket to see DOOM won’t buy you an intellectually challenging piece of art, but it will certainly thrill a gamer and entertain an action movie junkie.
About the Author
Sean Drummy has been with the Wargamer for the better part of four years. Since he joined, the nature of his role has changed significantly over time but his core interests have remained the same: first person shooters and a hopeless addiction to overclocking expensive computer hardware. When Sean isn't playing first person shooters such as Battlefield 2 or Day of Defeat: Source, he enjoys cooling CPUs with dry ice and stressing their speeds to the max.