Reviewed By Doug Bentin
Posted 11/04/05 02:38:39

"Doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t."
3 stars (Average)

I really thought that “Doom” would be so bad, I’d be able to refer to it as “Dumm.” I’m a little disappointed that this isn’t the case. Hopefully, someday some doofus producer will release a disaster movie called “Dam” and I’ll be able to modify this gag to fit.

“Doom” is one of those pop genre movies that can be reviewed in more than one way. If I wanted to review it as a mainstream action film I’d have to say that it borrows much of its best stuff from James Cameron’s “Aliens” and John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and that it doesn’t live up to either of them. If I approached it as a “B” movie, like that stuff you watch Saturday night on the Sci Fi Channel when you can’t get a date, I’d probably compare it to the same two pictures and say that, for an over-priced “B” it’s pretty well done.

As is so often the case with genre films, your reaction to it depends a lot on the expectations you had going in.

The Rock stars as a marine with “Semper Fi” tattooed on his back. This makes no sense, of course, unless he plans to sit around shirtless with a bunch of the fellas. All he does is follow orders, and that’s all he wants to do. He and his rescue team are sent to Mars, where something nasty is killing people at an archaeological survey installation. It’s never explained in a way that makes sense, but something is killing the scientists and then bringing them back to life and transforming them into the kind of monsters you see in video games. This picture is based on a video game.

This is where we should insert the digression about what a waste of time video games are, but I watch Douglas Sirk movies and I’m a big fan of Tod Slaughter, so if I lecture you on the evils of wasting time I deserve to be a stunt double on “Passion of the Christ II.” I don’t care if you play video games if you don’t care that I have an autographed picture of Lash LaRue on the wall over my desk. Deal? Good.

But back to Mars.

Sarge’s second in command is “Reaper” Grimm (Karl Urban, Eomer in the last two Lord of the Rings movies) who has issues with his sister Samantha, one of the scientists (Rosamund Pike, Miranda Frost in “Die Another Day”). Their ongoing disagreement about the deaths of their parents is supposed to look like character depth but it it’s really just something to make this look like a movie.

Okay, this is where I’m supposed to tell you that someone with Rosamund Pike’s credentials should be making movies that are a helluva lot better than “Doom.” I won’t do that because the thing that is so frequently overlooked when critics decry, say, Robert DeNiro’s participation in “Godsend” or “Hide and Seek” is that acting in an over-the-top horror flick is fun. Besides, if Tara Reid got all these roles—my god, I don’t even want to think about it.

Actually, one of the more interesting segments was the one in which Reaper hunts the beasties and all the action is seen from his point of view as he stalks the halls. We see what he sees, over the gun he carries. Yeah, it’s just like what you’d be seeing if you were playing the game. Thank goodness this doesn’t go on for long, but it is kind of catchy for a few minutes.

Having said that, I still have to bitch that these game movies ought to forget that they originated in the gaming experience and just be movies. There isn’t a bunch of stuff in movies based on novels that tries to duplicate the experience of reading a book. Movies have been based on books, short stories, poems, songs, even (gasp) real life. Rarely do they play out like the original form—especially real life—but for some reason these game movies want to look like games.

Maybe someday a critic will write an article explaining why game movies can’t make the leap away from their source material. Or maybe I should try playing the games. Maybe then it would make sense to me—but I doubt it. Not much does make sense to me anymore, but that could me my fault. Naw . . .

The acting is about what you’d expect for this kind of thing. Everyone starts at emotional level 9, quickly kicks up to 10 and stays there. The FX are good enough, especially when it comes to the gore. This is a very wet movie without being in the least scary.

So bottom line: if you want a real movie, try elsewhere. If you want a slick “B” movie, this’ll do. If you want to play a video game, it’s a toss up. If you want to see The Rock do that cha-cha eyebrow thing, forget about it.

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