Source: The Badger Herald
Written By: Alec Luhn
Submitted by: Lesmond
Mindless entertainment in sci-fi movie
Universal Pictures’ new action flick “Doom” plays like a videogame come to life. Oh, wait — it is a videogame come to life. Based off the id Software series of the same name, “Doom” was given a script, a director (Andrzej Bartkowiak, “Cradle 2 the Grave”) and a large budget before being re-launched as a feature film.
The movie has been panned by critics across the board for a variety of reasons: bad acting, a lack of originality and a script that makes you want to bang your head against a wall. Defending “Doom” against these allegations is a lost cause. It is based off a videogame, after all, and almost all videogames suffer from these shortcomings. But if you take it for what it is, you may find “Doom” watchable and even — dare I say it? — enjoyable.
As an action film, “Doom” does better than expected. Bartkowiak keeps the atmosphere heavy and tense, resisting the urge to descend into senseless violence for a good chunk of the movie. Things don’t even get that gory until the very end. When the characters start splitting up, you know somebody’s about to get creamed, but the director’s patience keeps the suspense high.
The movie’s plot can easily be applied to several different videogame titles, but that’s to be expected. Besides, the original “Doom” started the trend. The basic story involves a research facility on Mars connected to Earth through a portal constructed by an ancient civilization of aliens. The scientists at the facility have been digging up remains and experimenting with genetic mutation — a big no-no to anyone who’s ever seen a sci-fi film. Soon, mutated monsters are running around attempting to infect people with their tongues. When things start getting hairy, a highly-trained, heavily-armed squad of Marines led by Sarge (The Rock) is called in to get the situation under control.
The movie exhibits more than a few similarities to the sci-fi/action classics “Aliens” and “Stargate.” This is unfortunate because “Doom” can’t compete with either of these films. The aliens in “Aliens” are undoubtedly scarier and much cooler looking, and the archeological theme in “Stargate” is far superior to anything “Doom” digs up.
Those who will enjoy “Doom” the most are the videogame fans who don’t mind the lack of originality. The core audience of young males who remember playing the game back on SNES will applaud at the movie’s many references to the videogame. These range from a “Weapons Lab” featuring many forms of armament available in the game to a sequence shot entirely in the first-person view that mimics the game play perfectly. Although this first-person shooter trick is neat at first, it gets old fast, especially because of its effect on those prone to motion sickness.
Though sufficiently dark and creepy, the movie’s scenery turns into one giant, Mars-base maze. The viewer is confused as to where he is at all times. Sure, the action takes place in lots of different areas — the transport room, the labs, the sewers, the archeological dig, etc. But since the characters are constantly running back and forth between these locations inside the Mars base (whose convoluted layout must have been designed by an overzealous plumber), it all runs together.
That said, you can’t complain about the movie’s action scenes, which pit Marines against mutants in all sorts of disadvantageous locations. These include a one-on-one battle in a holding cell with electrified walls and a suspenseful scene in the sewers brought about by a faulty flashlight. The final showdown between a half-mutant Sarge and the main good guy, Reaper (Karl Urban), features both guns and fists, since Reaper inexplicably decides to give his opponent a fair fight, throwing his gun away.
Reaper doesn’t only have The Rock to worry about, as he is also in the grips of an inner conflict brought up by the fact that his sister is a researcher on the base. When their parents died on Mars years ago, she followed in their footsteps, while he became an especially gung-ho Marine. This side plot is pathetic in terms of character development, but it does add more dimension to the movie.
The movie actually invokes a slight emotional response when Sarge and the remaining Marines are split on whether to execute the possibly-contaminated survivors. Even though it’s obvious it doesn’t really make sense to kill all of them, the tension stays high through the end of the movie.
Looking back on it, “Doom” is admittedly cheesy and unoriginal. But The Rock isn’t exactly a talented actor, and Bartkowiak isn’t shooting for an Oscar.
There’s something to be said for mindless action films, and “Doom” clearly falls into this category. As a movie based on a videogame, “Doom” does better than expected.