Recent Posts

      RECENT REVIEWS
   
 SGA 1-01: Rising 
 
 DS9 2-04: Invasive Procedures 
 
 B5 2-09: The Coming of Shadows 
 
 The Orville 1-02 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Doom: Extended Edition

Written by:Dave Callaham & Wesley Strick|Directed by:Andrzej Bartkowiak|Release Date:2005

This week on Sci-Fi Adventures, another video game movie!

Doom can't be as bad as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within though, surely? Well according to Rotten Tomatoes, 44% of critics came out of Final Fantasy feeling like it brightened up their day, compared to just 19% for Doom. But to be fair, Spirits Within is currently about the highest rated video game movie on the site (second only to Angry Birds), so Doom's actually a mid-tier VG adaptation.

No one could say a bad word about that logo though! Except that they've left a massive gap between the O's and bled all the colour out of it. But they stayed true to the games and I always respect a movie that respects its source material. Trouble is, at the time this was made the Doom games had already had one reboot so there were conflicting sources. Not to mention the comic and the books.

Still, as long as the movie's about a lone Space Marine who fights his way through the warped and broken corridors of a research base located on or around Mars, killing cyberdemons and his possessed comrades on his way to Hell itself, they couldn't really screw it up!

I'm going to be going through the Extended Edition, so you'll be getting 15 minutes of extra SPOILERS. I might even spoil the games too if I can think of any plot to spoil. Not the brand new one though, because while everyone else has been enjoying playing it, I've been busy writing this crap up instead.



Hey that's supposed to be the Earth, they've put the wrong planet in the logo! I sure hope someone got fired over this.

I like it when studios play with their opening logo and apparently Universal does too, as they're always doing it. The way that Waterworld's logo depicts the end of the world has always stuck in my mind, but you've also got Oblivion's logo showing a ruined Earth, and that Battlestar Galactica movie showing Caprica (and so on).

There's a bit of opening narration here, but they keep it short and to the point.
"In the year 2026 archaeologists working in the Nevada desert discovered a portal to an ancient city on Mars. They called this portal the Ark. Twenty years later, we're still struggling to understand why it was built and what happened to the civilisation that built it."
The studio's name fades away and the camera zooms right in to a scruffy looking research facility, before ducking into a vent to watch the scientists running around dark corridors in terror.

They get picked off by an unseen monster (or monsters) one by one, until only Dr. Carmack makes it to the other side of a solid metal door. Though he's sharing the room with the arm of the woman who died screaming his name as he closed the door on her. Speaking of his name, I wonder if he's any relation to John Carmack, the genius who programmed most of the 'Doom' games.

But it turns out the monster's strong enough to punch through metal, so Carmack only bought himself enough time to get the base put under quarantine. And that's when the logo comes up.

Meanwhile on Earth, the Marine Corps Special Ops Rapid Response Tactical Squad is playing indoor baseball with oranges in their barracks. Well two of them are anyway, plus you've got one reading the bible, one talking about 'she-boys', and Karl Urban's cleaning his guns.

It's weird watching this now after seeing Dredd and Star Trek, because you've got Hollywood actor Karl Urban surround by people who may be real Space Marines for all I know.

Also there's this guy playing his made up sci-fi handheld. Except it's not, it's actually a real Galaxian2 game from 1981! Though it's supposed to be held upright, so he's actually hitting the player 2 controls with his right hand there.

But Sergeant The Rock comes in to interrupt their character defining tomfoolery with bad news: leave is cancelled and they've been ordered to get their ass to Mars. Everyone but Karl Urban, who's off the hook for some reason.

They get on board the chopper and grab their sci-fi guns, which gives the computer voice an excuse to list their 'Handle ID's. It's a nice attempt by the movie to help me assign names to faces, but it's going to take more than this before they sink in. Except for Dwayne Johnson's character who's literally called 'Sarge'. Possibly named after the character from 'Quake III Arena', which 'Doom's protagonist (Doomguy) appeared in.

And then Karl Urban turns up at the last moment to be ID'd as 'Reaper'! Named after 'Quake's Reaper Bots maybe? I dunno.

I like their helicopter by the way, it's like a cross between a Comanche and a Hind. I also like how we get to them flying over a city along the way, to establish that an outside world does exist.

I was expecting one of them to get up and start drunkenly bragging about being ultimate badasses, or maybe stick 'Long Tall Sally' on, but they're actually fairly quiet during the trip to the Ark. Though Sarge does have a chat with Reaper about how long it's been and whether she's "even still up there". They're keeping his backstory vague, but it does give Reaper a chance to say "I guess you gotta face your demons sometime."

They strike a military pose and then enter the elevator taking them way down into the Ark portal facility.

Wow, looks like they've gone full Stargate with this operation, running the alien portal device from their own computers in an underground base.

This Ark portal though is an example of filmmakers screwing around with something for the sake of it. Instead of a teleporter panel or a swirling vertex of energy it's... a tiny floating blob of water that sucks you in then shoots off to Mars. I think Stargate wins this round.

Sarge orders the elevator shut down and the base put under quarantine, then they step through to discover... that UAC's Olduvai research base on Mars looks more or less identical to the place they came from! The Ark room anyway.

Hey it's Dexter Fletcher with no backside and an American accent! You know, the guy from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Band of Brothers (and the presenter of video game show GamesMaster for a bit). His name's Marcus Pinzerowsky, but he'd rather be called Pinky. Uh... okay mate, whatever makes you happy.

He reveals he ended up wearing wheelpants due to a portal accident, which seems like foreshadowing. Reaper assumes his ass ended up in another galaxy, but then we see a clip of the legs landing in the same room so that immediately ruins that theory. Then again, the Mars base looks the same as the Earth base, so maybe they were both built by the aliens, and the Ark really can take them to more planets! It's got me wondering.

Though now I've started wondering how Pinky sleeps in that thing.

Anyway, it seems that the Mars facility isn't actually that far gone, and at least 79 UAC employees are alive and well. The other six scientists are locked down in the lab and are likely not doing so good.

Like in Aliens the marines all rigged up with cameras, and to test them they point their loaded guns at each other's faces. I'm British, so all I've been taught about gun safety is you shouldn't have it flicked on when threatening the main villain, but even I know that you don't do that.

Love that 'Doom 3' looking art style on the computers though. Also that Portman's real name is actually Portman.

You might recognise Portman's actor by the way, as he killed Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman Begins that same year. I'm kind of hoping that Batman turns up on Mars out of nowhere and starts wailing on his face, because man is this character asking for a punch.

The first thing Portman does on Mars (after vomiting) is go up to a group of female scientists and explain that level 5 quarantine means that he has to strip search them. It's obviously not going to work, as they're geniuses and his boss standing right there behind him, but he can't help trying anyway!

Portman has no luck with the first group, so he goes after Dr. Samantha Grimm instead, who just happens to be Reaper's sister! Turns out that the two of them have seen each other for a decade, but they'll have plenty of time to get reacquainted as she'll be tagging with them during the movie to recover science data.

Hey, it's a level map!

Huh, what's the arc chamber? Oh I see, it must be called the ARC portal, not the Ark portal! But it's called the Ark in the subtitles, so now I'm confused.

The airlock is the only way in or out of Carmack's lab, so everything on the left is safe and everything on the right is horror movie territory. They go through and split up into pairs to check the different labs and offices, with Reaper escorting his sister as she gets the research data.

They've got flashlights attached to their guns! You can't do that in 'Doom 3', that ain't right. Also it's going to start getting annoying if the lights keep making a sound when the beam sweeps across the screen.

I appreciate how the squad's actually moving like soldiers though, with one person moving up to check the corner while the other covers them. They're coming off as a bit more professional than Aliens' Colonial Marines. Speaking of Aliens, this is also taking its time at the start to build up tension. It's just not giving me much to look at while it does it.

This should be the point where I start judging the movie based on the quality of its science fiction corridors, but I can barely tell what this place looks like because all the lights are off. It doesn't look much like any 'Doom' level I remember though. It needs more windows or hexagonal floor tiles.

So Portman finds a monkey jump scare in the Genetics Lab, The Kid freaks out over a falling bit of tubing in a corridor and Sarge falls in love with a computer display of the BFG in the Weapons Lab.

Meanwhile Reaper and his sister find the first computer she needs to copy files from, and finally have a moment alone to deal with the subject that's on their minds. Reaper confirms that yes, the other Marines gave him that nickname because his last name's Grimm.

Also Sam shows off what she's been up to on Mars: researching the remains of Martian inhabitants. Seems that the alien civilization that lived here had been screwing around with their DNA to give themselves rapid healing and greater immunity. Or, as Sam puts it, they have an extra chromosome that makes them superhuman. Though shouldn't that be supermartian?

At least this explains why they called this base Olduvai, as Olduvai Gorge is a place in Tanzania where we found the earliest evidence of human ancestors. No sign of super powers there though.

25 minutes into the movie the others discover something moving around in Dr. Carmack's office... and it's Dr. Carmack! So that's one out of six scientists accounted for. He's alive, but he's a gibbering mess and he's got a nasty cut on his neck that's bleeding out all over his lab coat. Then to make things worse he rip and tears off his own ear!

Carmack was still carrying that woman's arm (which he drops with a comical 'splat' sound) so the Marines split up into pairs and go shining their flashlights down corridors again to find the body that goes with it.

This means it's time for more character moments as The Kid gets some drugs off Portman to get his game face back on, and Goat cuts another cross into his arm after accidentally taking God's name in vain. So that's a bit weird.

Eventually Portman and The Kid hit the jackpot: a naked woman just standing there with her back turned to them. You know, I'm starting to suspect from Portman's reaction that he's never actually seen a woman before.

This scene's apparently new for the Extended Edition, adding a bit of nudity to the movie. Though I cropped it back out again to keep my site classy. Also I figured that if I was screwing around with the image I might as well boost the brightness too, because damn this movie's dark.

Anyway, big shock, the scientist is as crazy as Dr. Carmack and she tries to stab them, only to get gunned down for it. Turns out that she was the woman who got her arm cut off with the door earlier! So that's two scientists they've found now, four to go.

Meanwhile Duke and Sam get Dr. Carmack down to the infirmary, which is protected by an impenetrable nanowall that scares the crap out of Duke. It's basically a wall that becomes temporarily intangible when you type in the door code (no red keycard here), so I can understand why he wouldn't want to be caught in it when it became solid again. Though why the infirmary's protected and nowhere else is a mystery.

This is the kind of thing I don't like in video game movies, when the writers seem more fond of their own concepts than the ones in the game they're adapting. Sure a nanowall fits right into this world and is a cool idea, but maybe they should've tried fitting in more of the game first.

Wait who's that second woman on the left? Where'd she come from all of a sudden? I don't think she's one of the six scientists, but we learn that her husband is.

Reaper and Goat are paired together this time, and their flashlights soon shine upon another scientist in over in the Genetics Lab, who's surrounded by dead test animals with a rat hanging out of his mouth. He runs at them with a knife so they put him down with enough force to send him flying backwards a good three meters. Hang on, Goat's got a shotgun. There's finally a shotgun in this 'Doom' movie! So Doc Olsen's down, three scientists to go.

There hasn't been an action scene in the movie yet exactly, but it wakes up a bit when they spot a proper monster and chase it down into the... wow, why does a research base on Mars have sewers?

Even in a movie I still can't escape these bloody sewer levels.

So now Sarge, Goat, Portman, Reaper and The Kid have found a new dark corridor to shine their flashlights, while Destroyer covers the exit. Also the flashlight noise is getting kind of obvious now.

They find a lab coat belonging to Steve Willits. Hey that's another 'Doom' developer! It's also Sam's friend's husband. Plus Portman falls down a hole! But they just pick him up again, so it's fine.

The squad splits up at a junction and Reaper's teamed up with The Kid this time, who won't shut up, probably because of the pills he took earlier. Reaper gives him shit for constantly giving away their position, then notices his pupils are dilated! You're in a pitch black sewer mate, why wouldn't they be?

But just when you think The Kid taking drugs is going to have a pay off, the monster goes after Goat instead! It shoots its tongue into his neck and gets it stuck so bad that he tears it right off. Hey, that's means Goat's got the same neck wound as Carmack!

Reaper's on the case though, smacking the monster as it jumps out at him from around a corner, and shooting it dead. That's two kills for Reaper so far!

So Sarge and Reaper drag Goat to the infirmary, yelling at the base personnel to begin evacuating to Earth through the Ark... or Arc, I'm not even sure any more. Wait, why are they carrying him through the atrium? Did the sewers take them under that super-secure airlock or something? Oh never mind.

Back in the infirmary, Reaper tries to restart Goat's heart with a defibrillator but it doesn't work. Maybe because defibrillators aren't actually used to help flat-lining patients, but I dunno. R.I.P. Goat. Plus they've lost Carmack too (Sam and Duke turned their backs and he ran away).
 
Sarge has lost his cheerful disposition and wants answers out of Sam about where their monster came from. but as far as she knows the planet can't sustain life. You know, this movie could really use some exterior shots just to re-establish that they are in fact on Mars. Or windows maybe; the 'Doom' games love windows!



Warning: Gross looking monster autopsy shot coming up.



I have to give the filmmakers credit, that does look a lot like an imp out of Doom 3.

Most of the Marines go off to shine their flashlights down corridors again, while Sam loses her flashlight down the throat of the monster they killed. So she gets Duke to hold the mouth open while she shoves her hand down its throat to fish it back out. Duke is very much not keen on this, but he'll take any chance to win the heart of Reaper's sister. His character's trait is that he's into her, you see.

She needs a power bone saw to get the thing open though (which is nothing like a chainsaw unfortunately) so she sends him out through the nanowall alone to get one. And she's the smart one of the team! She's soon outside looking for him, and the two have to run back through the nanowall to escape another imp. Fortunately for Duke, Sam's got more decency than Carmack and waits for him to come through before hitting the switch.

The monster's not so lucky though, and gets caught inside the wall. The nanowall foreshadowing has been paid off! But it's still not dead, so it spits its tongue at them (and misses).

Meanwhile Sarge tells an unhappy Portman that nothing's coming in or out of the Ark until the base is safe, meaning he's not calling for backup. Pinky's also kind of dismayed as he's been left on his own to guard the portal, despite being a civilian with zero training or interest in sticking around.

Sarge takes the team down into the archaeological dig, which is far less interesting than it sounds because it just means more narrow corridors in the dark. I can't even say for sure that they look different as I can't see them. It's all a bit of a disappointment really.

Though Reaper actually finds a window down there and takes a look outside! So we finally get a glimpse at the facility from the outside, our first since the intro. It's a lot like I remember it looking in 'Doom 3' actually (ie. brown).

This is where Reaper's parents died and it's his first time coming back here since the accident, so he's a bit out of it. He even drifts off into a flashback, but it's audio only and we hear just enough of what happened to learn... that there was an accident. This could've been an emotional moment, as he confronts the trauma that drove him to join the Marines and become estranged from his sister, but all I really got from the scene was that he's still sad about it.

They find the last two scientists at least, killed next to an airlock, like they were trying to get out to the surface. And then a monster punches Mac's head off. Uh, I don't think I've mentioned him yet, he was the guy playing orange baseball at the start who then got like one line and basically disappeared for the rest of the film. So at the halfway point of the movie that's three Marine kills and two Marines killed.

The monster that killed Mac races back to the lab complex, so they go in after it and shut the door behind them. So now we're back where we started. Again.

Sarge radios Pinky to tell him to use an ST grenade if the creature gets through to the Ark room to prevent it from escaping to Earth, but that doesn't much impress Portman as it will destroy the portal and trap them all on Mars. Maybe it'd be smarter just to pull everyone back to the Ark and have them ambush the creature where they can actually see it, instead of leaving Portman and Destroyer standing in front of the airlock in the dark.

Meanwhile in Dr. Grimm's house of horrors, her gruesome monster autopsy is interrupted by Goat returning from the dead in the next room. He's a proper 'Doom' zombie! Though he's the 'Doom 3' kind without green hair unfortunately.

He'd be a shotgun zombie but they left his gun elsewhere, so he attacks the glass window with his head instead, over and over, until he's re-dead. Sam puts the clues together and figures out that the creature she's been taking apart must be her friend's husband Dr. Willits! Infected humans become zombie grunts then evolve into fireball-less imps. That's why Goat killed himself, it's against his religion to become an alien monster (so I'm counting his suicide as a Marine kill).

Wait, hang on, they're not demons or possessed humans, they're just mutants infected with something? Making a 'Doom' film without demons is like making a 'Final Fantasy' movie without magic, swords or chocobos! If you can't make a film work without discarding the defining aspects of the source material, then that should be a sign to give up.

Anyway, Portman goes to take a dump and Sarge uses the severed arm Dr. Carmack was playing with to open up the armoury and collect the experimental super weapon:

It's the mighty BFG, floating there like a video game power up. Officially the acronym stands for 'Bio Force Gun', but as far as Sarge is concerned it's a Big Fucking Gun. Well he just went right to the top of my list of candidates to be the movie's version of Doomguy

When Sarge opens the door the computer reveals whose security clearance he just used and it's about the only real surprise I've gotten out of the film so far. Characters like Todd Carmack and Willits got their names straight of out the video game's credits, but the scientist who got her arm stuck in the door is called... Patricia Tallman.

Patricia Tallman has been a stuntwoman on movies like Jurassic Park, Speed, Austin Powers, and the Star Trek series... but I know of her because she played Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5. I guess it's not that strange to see her name appear though, as she also had a starring role in the 1990 Night of the Living Dead remake, and the writers sure love their zombies.

What is weird, is that the character's credited as Hillary Tallman in the credits (and Sam asks Dr. Carmack about Hillary at one point). It's like the name was changed at some point and no one told the computer.




While Sarge is getting acquainted with his new weapon, Destroyer goes to take his minigun for a walk, leaving the airlock entirely unguarded. And of course the monster gets him and throws him into a prison... pit... thing. But he's not dead yet, so he grabs the nearest thing he can use as a weapon and starts fighting back.

Yeah, he's swinging a PC monitor by the cables. The movie was made in 2005, flat screen LCD monitors are all over the base, but Destroyer still managed to find one CRT screen (inside a prison cell), and he's going to smack a monster with it.

There's a bit of a fight here that I couldn't really see, but it ends with Destroyer managing to pin the imp (or maybe hell knight, I'm not sure) against the electrified wall of the cell with a metal beam, then he climbs out using a chain! I'm starting to like this guy now, he's my new favourite for being the actual Doomguy.

But just as it looks like he's won, the monster grabs a chain and drops him back down onto his head. He would've survived if only he was wearing a proper Doomguy helmet. Marines killed: 3.

Over in the toilets, Portman's having problems of his own. His surreptitious attempt to ignore orders and radio for backup actually works out, but he drops his only magazine outside the toilet stall (the type with bullets in, not the type you read while taking a crap), and... manages to get it back without incident.

And then an imp drags him into the ceiling and starts smacking him against the walls.

Pinky sees it all on the cameras and says nothing, because he's tired of their shit. Incidentally the cameras haven't gotten much use in the film and neither has Pinky. I thought he'd be in it more, seeing as he's one of the actors I've heard of.

The others are too late to save Portman (Marines killed: 4) but Sarge is at least able to utterly wreck the ceiling with his BFG. Seems like it fires a kind of blue goop that eats away at walls, which again is the filmmakers doing something different for the sake of being different.

So the Marines all return to Sam's hideout to take stock of all the ways everything's gone wrong. Sarge has really lost his cool by this point, so he goes over and puts a bullet in the helpless Carmack imp's mouth. Marine kills 5, they've pulled ahead again! Also wow, it doesn't take much to kill these things.

Sarge wants to know what mad scientist crap Sam and her friends were working on up here, but she was just analysing bones and artefacts! That's all she was involved in anyway; the research data she retrieved shows them that the six scientists in the labs were up to something more... sinister.

Then we get a weird out of place transition as the film flashes back to the research the scientists were doing on a death row inmate. It's about as weird and out of place as the spaceship to bullet transition in Spirits Within. Nothing wrong with being creative with editing, but you've got to be consistent with it!

That chat they had about the aliens having an extra chromosome comes back as they learn that the scientists replicated the genetic manipulation with a human subject. They wanted a superhuman, they got an hell knight, strong enough to break free and capable of turning them into imps with his tongue.

"This place, it's Hell, it always was," says Reaper, trying to explain how the movie really is about demons from Hell, from a certain point of view.

Doom 3 (PC)
Nice try Reaper, but this is what Hell looks like. See you've got the lava, the arcane symbols on the floor, the skulls on the wall etc. All the imagery the movie was too scared to show in case it upset some of its audience or caused a little controversy. The Mars base on the other hand actually seems quite nice for most of the people working there, in the places where the lighting works.

Reaper wants to destroy the data, but Sarge does a massive 180 and decides that he's actually cool with all this now, and wants to get the research materials back to Earth. He was ordered to protect and retrieve UAC property, and he isn't paid to care about the consequences.

They've got a problem though, as the last of six scientists wasn't as dead as first assumed and he's cutting through to get into the Ark room. Sarge radios Pinky to tell him to use the ST grenade and destroy the Ark, but he decides he'd rather live and escapes into the portal instead. So they're all going back to Earth!

But first Sam wants to share a theory she has on the monsters. She puts a bit of brain matter from Portman's deranged mind in front of an imp's detached tongue and it goes right for it, but it leaves Destroyer's brain alone. You know what this means? It means that Sam's been cutting open everyone's brains for science! But it also means that the imp's 24th chromosome has given them the power to sniff out evil (with their tongue) and an instinct to only infect those with a tendency to be psychotic and violent.

You know, I think I'd have been happier if they hadn't mentioned extra chromosomes at all, because vagueness would work better for my suspension of disbelief. It'd also mean I didn't have to hear the phrase "genetic blueprint for the soul".

But why do imps only infect bad people? Because good people would be turned into superhumans! It's all very Captain America. So I suppose it makes sense that the amoral scientists involved in human experimentation would turn imp. Goat seemed like a decent guy (decent enough to kill himself rather than turn), but he hinted earlier that he spent time in prison and there were definite clues he was struggling with his nature. An arm carved up with crosses for example.

Sam also thinks that the Ark was actually an ark, carrying the survivors of an imp apocalypse to a new home (Earth). So maybe we're descended from an advanced race of superhuman Martians! Or maybe not.

The Marines teleport back to Earth to find that Portman's request for reinforcements is playing to a room full of dead people. But Pinky survived, along with 20 people hiding in storeroom (some of them children).
 
Now they've got a bit of a stand off, as Sarge believes that all the survivors need to be murdered to prevent the infection getting out, while Reaper and Sam know that they're likely not infected. This is actually really similar to 'Doom's backstory, as Doomguy was sent to Mars as punishment for disobeying an order to fire on civilians.

And in this case it's actually the Kid who makes a stand and refuses the order, making him the new leading candidate to be Doomguy! At least until Sarge puts a bullet in him for mutinous insurrection. He's really committing 100% to this heel turn.

Suddenly everything goes to shit, with zombies pouring in, Sam's love interest getting shredded, and Pinky and Sarge getting dragged off screen by the monsters, At least Sarge got to have the best line on the way out: "I'm not supposed to die!"

Now it's just Reaper left, our Doomguy by default, but he's fading fast after being hit with a ricochet from a malfunctioning nanowall.

But she knows that he's a good man at his core, despite the things he's done, so she's going to inject him with with the C-24 drug she swiped from Olduvai. If it works he'll get super healing, super strength... the generic superhero package. If it fails he'll be a monster like the others. The thing is, Dr. Carmack spat a tongue at Sam and Duke earlier, so either Duke had the evil genes or Reaper's twin sister, and she was the one who didn't flinch at the gore.

When Reaper wakes up the movie's gone full first person, a side effect of the treatment I guess, and he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror. It reflects his inner goodness! So the sound-alike 'Doom' theme kicks in and he goes on a first person shooter murder rampage.

The movie suddenly gets the Evil Dead-style energy and humour it's been missing as it turns into a goofy 3DO FMV rail shooter, with Reaper's floating gun killing everything that jumps out at him. At one point he even turns to find a couple of zombies standing right up next to his face, laughing.

Come on you bastard imp, throw a fireball! Just one fireball!

It'd be fair to say that the movie doesn't go wild with the visual effects. The monsters are all actually blokes in suits with animatronics, not CGI. Doesn't stop Reaper from shooting a pipe and setting one on fire though. He's really racking up the kill count here, gunning down more monsters in 5 minutes than in the entire rest of the film, by a factor of 10 according to my calculations.

And then the sequence ends with the 'shooting the mirror by mistake' gag.

Oh hang on, not over yet, as Pinky's turned into a Pinky demon! I... really should've seen that coming. Not sure it makes much sense why his mutation would be so radically different to everyone else (except that it probably is CGI this time), but it does at least give Reaper an excuse to pick up a chainsaw and sort him out.

And that was the first (and only) cybernetic enemy in the movie.

This first person shooter sequence doesn't feel a whole lot like 'Doom', as the camera gently glides between monster encounters (plus we get to see Reaper's legs), but it's so much better than anything else in the movie that I'm disinclined to give a fuck. It was apparently extended by 30 seconds for the unrated edition, but it's still over way too soon.

With 2 minutes left until the quarantine lockdown's over we're dropped back in third person view as Reaper discovers Sam lying on the floor, alive but wounded. Sarge is there too, and it's ambiguous whether he was keeping her safe or beating the crap out of her. Though he definitely killed everyone else and he's visibly changing into a monster, so both soldiers know what's going to happen here.

Everyone handles the transformation differently: the older male scientist ripped his ear off, the young female scientist stripped naked for the camera, and the soldier played by a wrestler... starts wrestling.

Man I'm going to watch all the special features just to learn how they rigged up the wires for that move. So I guess Sarge trained for this in the Marines then?

It'd be fair to say that the movie's not entirely unlike Aliens, but it doesn't pull the double action climax thing off nearly as well. It's not a terrible fight (from what I can tell) but after that first person shooter sequence feels it just feels redundant to me.

Eventually Reaper gets the upper hand on a rapidly mutating Sarge and swings him into the Ark with his super strength. Then he throws an ST grenade in afterwards, so we finally get a pay off for all the times people've mentioned the thing.

Though I was expecting him to have a Pinky accident and end up with his head sent to the Pegasus galaxy or something! And now we'll never get to see that happen, as the Ark's been destroyed, cutting us off from Mars once more. It feels like it should be a triumphant 'sealed the gates to Hell' kind of moment, but they brought the research data and BFG with them, and filled the portal base with imp corpses, so all he's sealed off is a perfectly good planet!

Wow, I just realised that Reaper never got to hold the BFG all movie. What a crappy Doomguy.

And Reaper picks up an unconscious Sam and takes her up to the surface, the end.

Wow, that was kind of abrupt. Makes me wish they'd gone with a more of a Die Hard ending, with people handing out blankets, Reaper chatting with an authority figure, and Christmas music. It would've been nice if the two of them could've at least had a conversation, to confirm that Sam's going to be alright.

It's eerie how similar this is to the ending of a certain other movie I wrote about recently, with the two heroes coming back up on lift in silence after a dramatic action scene. It's not all that similar to the games it's based on though, but that's actually a good thing. Well, for the people of Earth and Reaper's pet rabbit anyway.

Not a great performance for Reaper unfortunately, as by my reckoning he only got around 22 kills in almost two hours of playtime (most of them right at the end). And in all that time he never once collected one of those weird medieval helmets with the glowing green eyes that are lying all over the place in the first two games. He didn't even try to activate every wall to see if it slid open.

And then the end credits turn out to be more true to the game than the movie was! Trouble is that game is 'Super Smash Bros.' as it shows someone shooting up the names of the cast and crew with a translucent rifle (as a Nine Inch Nails track plays). I'd make a joke about it being more action packed than the movie itself, but it's actually like a rerun of the first person shooter sequence except with x-ray glasses on.

Hah, Karl Urban and Rosalind Pike's names both escaped. I guess she survives okay then. And The Rock's credit gets blown up by a grenade! Wow this really is retelling the story of the film. That's how he's credited by the way, 'The Rock', not 'Dwayne Johnson'.

And then the director's credit kills the player character and escapes. The end.


CONCLUSION

Is Doom one of the very few decent video game movies? Well there's definitely a good movie in there... it just lasts about 5 minutes and is surrounded by a more mediocre horror film.

To summarise: flashlights, flashlights, boobs, flashlights, flashlights, flashlights, first person shooting, wrestling, end credits.

The actors spend a good amount of the movie showing off their extensive pre-production combat training by sweeping corridors in cover formation. There's never a point where the characters have a goal to achieve through cunning plans and daring acts, they just argue, split into pairs, shine their flashlights down corridors and yell "Clear!"

Not that the actors do a bad job with what they're given, especially as half of them seem to be putting on an accent, though I get the impression the ones playing Carmack and Portman were cast because of the expressions they can pull. Dwayne Johnson in particular pulls the movie up a level with his charisma alone, even if his turn from pissed off professional to absolute psychopath seems to come out of nowhere. Trouble is you can't just put two or three of these characters in a room together and expect magic to happen, and that's what the movie likes to do.

If I were to describe the movie I'd say it was like Aliens, crossed with 'Doom', crossed with a zombie movie, with most of the 'Doom' taken out of it afterwards. I understand that there's a million reasons why filmmakers can't always get what they want, and they have to make compromises to get the movie done at all. But they made a 'Doom' movie without demons! Or Hell! Or imps throwing fireballs! Or flying skulls! And basically nothing in this movie would look good on a metal album cover. The film's missing the style and the spectacle of its inspirations; not just the 'Doom' games, but Aliens as well.

To a very small degree the film's about Reaper dealing with his metaphorical demons on place he personally considers to be a figurative Hell. But metaphors are a poor substitution for the real deal, and the 'Doom' games aren't exactly subtle. I'm reminded of the Super Mario Bros. movie, which included all kinds of references to the games, like the goombas for instance. But instead of making them little mushroom guys, the filmmakers decided to do their own thing and re-imagine them as huge lizard men with trench coats and tiny heads. But they're still called goombas, so it's cool right? If someone keeps saying a place is like Hell, then it doesn't matter that it completely lacks all the surreal imagery, right?

Sure you don't have to make an adaptation slavishly faithful to make it good, but when you deliberately create expectations with the title, you can't blame the audience for being dissatisfied when the film doesn't meet them. Plus I wouldn't blame anyone for being dissatisfied with this movie even if they had no expectations. It's never nail-bitingly tense or an adrenaline rush of action, it's just... really fucking dark. Visually.

Doom's not a cheap and nasty made for Syfy channel film by any means, it's definitely not Alone in the Dark, and I know people who enjoy it enough to defend the movie. But it could've been so much better.

And they never made another Doom film ever again. But next on Sci-Fi Adventures, Babylon 5's back with Born to the Purple.

Drop me a comment if you like, I'm always eager for feedback and opinions and suchlike.

2 comments:

  1. I like the changing Universal logo too; the Scott Pilgrim pixelised one is one of my favourites.

    You make an excellent point about adaptations that seem afraid of their source material; I think one of the reasons for the success of the recent Marvel movies is that the film-makers don't avoid the goofy stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, you can see that so clearly in the reaction to Deadpool and Captain America compared to Fantastic Four and Batman v. Superman.

      Not that they should necessarily pull a Watchmen or Sin City and use their source as a storyboard, Captain America: Civil War is nothing like the story that inspired it and that did just fine. But chances are that if a movie or TV series stays true to what makes something popular, it'll enjoy some of the same success.

      Stray from the source entirely and you can get an iZombie or Blade, but you're more likely to end up with a Catwoman.

      Delete