Doom (2005)

All right, I admit it.

Yeah, I know I”m not supposed to, but…

I rather like this film.

This sort of thing does happen once in a while.  It isn’t like I’m saying it’s good, either.  In fact, it’s kinda dumb.  Even silly, in places.

In a big, full of trippy Science Fiction details, sort of way, of course.

For those of you who’ve forgotten all about it by now, Doom was that videogame which was once described as heroinware, an incredibly simple but massively addictive game and one of the first First Person Shooters.  It doesn’t have much story to it, but mostly involved running through rooms and tunnels, blasting demons.

And that’s pretty much what you get here, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl Urban and (much to my surprise, considering that she’d never touch anything remotely like this these days, not since her ice cold performance as a sociopathic murderer in Gone Girl) Rosamund Pike supporting the real stars of the show, those incredible (and massively disgusting) creatures created by the Stan Winston Studio.

The Nothings were a good time for Karl Urban (who gives a convincing performance here as the morally conflicted hero) as, starting with Eomer in The Lord of the Rings, he went on to play important roles in a long series of genre films, including The Chronicles of Riddick, The Bourne Supremacy and, of course, the 2009 Star Trek.  He would get better roles, (Dredd, for one) but it is his solid performance that does a lot to make this film work as well as it does.

Now there is a bit of a story, with something going very wrong at an archaeological dig on Mars, talk of ancient civilizations and scientific experiments, a particularly unattractive form of teleportation, and the usual team of space marines sent in to clean things up.

Not that it matters that much, it’s just there to set up all the monster action.  We get plenty of that, naturally, and even have one of our characters “enhanced” so he can take part in one of the most absurd fight scenes on record.

There is one major change from the game: here the creatures are the result of an experiment gone wrong.  In the original, they are actually demons from Hell.  But that is one of those sorts of changes we know we’re going to find when it comes to a big Hollywood blockbuster.  Take your pick whether it’s because they were afraid of complaints — or just refuse to believe in Hell.

There was a lot of hype for the big sequence which tries to achieve the look and feel of the game as Karl Urban runs through the facility blasting things and we see it all looking down his gun barrel.  Well, it’s a gimmick.  Yeah, we all know they spend lots of money and 14 days of shooting to create this, but it doesn’t really work that well and rapidly becomes comedy.

Nor does it replicate the feel of the game as we don’t get to control Karl’s character.  It’s more like watching someone else play Doom.

And well all know that doesn’t stay interesting for long.

Doom even gives us that requisite moment of silly science which every bad SF film needs, when we are told that the ancient aliens had twenty-four chromosomes rather than twenty-three, with a lot of talk about that extra chromosome.  The problem is that a chromosome is basically just a loop in the DNA strand, where it crosses over itself.  It isn’t so much a distinct entity as it is what we’d call a file — or maybe even a folder — on a computer.  The number of Chromosomes varies enormously from species to species so one more isn’t necessarily a big deal.  It just means things are organized a little bit differently.

As big and dumb as Doom is, it proved remarkably suspenseful.  Oh, it has all the usual clock ticking down cliches, of course, but suspense still is not what you expect in a bad film — well, not a very bad film, at least!  And that, I think is the heart of the matter.  Doom is dumb and silly, it only has an excuse for plot and characters — even if it’s more than the game ever had –but it was well made, suspenseful, and even has a score by Clint Mansell.

It is also full of nasty monsters.

So don’t expect too much, turn off your brain, and try not to suck the popcorn down your lungs when you laugh at the silly bits and you’ll have plenty of midnight movie fun, no matter what hour you happen to be watching this big, dumb, silly movie.

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And check out our new Feature (Updated May 16, 2019):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!

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