Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
With: Karl Urban, Dwayne Johnson
Runtime: 100 min
Doom is exactly what we have come to expect from films derived from computer games: lots of guns, monsters and gloop. Here, there is that in abundance, but that is about it (and there isn’t even that much gloop!).
Ruthlessly pillaging the formula that made Alien great, (lots of moving shadows and dark, metallic corridors) this film takes all the elements of a good gore-fest and makes them boring and predictable. The characters are dull and one-dimensional, the one-liners stink of cheese (“Say my name, baby” – to a gun!), the soundtrack is uninspired, and the plot has more holes in it than the story in a standard shoot-’em-up computer game.
To be fair to director Andrzej Bartkowiak (director of Romeo Must Die), there is a smattering of tension here and there, as the stereotype American Badass Marine guys split up and roam the dark corridors, but it’s a proven formula and it goes on far too long. A welcome break, then, comes near the end in what is a refreshingly innovative and original piece of filming. We watch the action in first person perspective through the eyes of Karl Urban (Reaper), and it is a fast-paced and different way to enjoy a chainsaw rampage. Then it’s safe to go back to sleep and avoid the “grand finale” of a wrestling match between two people (and not a monster in sight).
The problem is that the two main things people love about the game are the hellspawn and the gunslinging shoot-everything-in-sight. In Doom, the gunslinging is there, but it is relatively understated for a film sold on its reputation as a monster mash; and there is very little hellspawn – mainly just the same zombies they used in 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead and Resident Evil, all of which are, in their own ways, significantly better films. All of the actors still need to make a top quality film after their big budget break-throughs, and Doom is not it (given that none of them are in the only part worth watching).
Given that the film is built on a computer game where shooting is the main ojective, you don’t go into Doom expecting much more than a glorious gun-fest. Even here, though, the film falls short. There are good things to be found, but you have to look hard. If you liked Resident Evil, maybe go and see Doom. If you like watching someone playing computer games, maybe go and watch Doom. If you like wrestling, then maybe watch the last few minutes of Doom. Otherwise, go to Ziggys instead.
Reviewed by Dan Kipling