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Friday, February 24, 2006

Doom: Unrated

This will be a spoilerific review, but since the movie is ass ... I'm not spoiling anything that wasn't already rotten.

Watching this film knowing that one of the producers felt I should just STFU really helped put the entire movie into perspective. Only begrudgingly did the makers place the action back on Mars, despite the fact that the location is irrelevant since 99% of the film takes place inside without any indication of what planet the marines are on. So in terms of concessions, that probably amounted to a couple of line changes (not even sure that's true) and a different CGI intro. Boo freakin' hoo.

From there, the producers scrap most of what actually makes Doom, in all of it's incarnations, Doom. The only real remnant from the game is the excellent set and prop design which at times feels almost hauntingly lifted from Doom III in particular. Everything else is offbeat or misplaced. Instead of a singular marine, we get a team. The characters of this team have been called "shallow" or having "one characteristic to tell them apart". That's almost giving them too much credit. There's New Kid, Disgusting Guy, Noble Warrior, Religous Freak, Shaft, and Shaft II. The character with most depth is easily Hot Blonde Scientist Who Still Believes In Her Brother. But honestly, she can be reduced to Sympathetic Chick Without A Bra.

There is no hell or demons, instead there is a Resident Evil lift about genetic mutations causing zombies (which neither look nor act like they do in Doom III) and some mumbo jumbo about a viral infection which knows if you are good or bad (so be good for goodness sake!). The weapons are mildly Doom-like, although the much heralded BFG is actually just the plasma gun with an attitude. In what is perhaps a failed nod to fan dissatisfaction with Doom III, the rifles are equipped with flashlights which go out on a moment's notice and apparently 20 round clips.

The most obvious nod to the game is the brief "first person sequence". The sequence works oddly better as cinema than homage, since the digitally merged scenes give the section of film the odd appearance of being done in one take. Sadly, it results in scenes which reminded me more of those sad movie shooters from the Sega CD days than anything id ever produced. When the Hell Knight crashes out waving his chainsaw around, you'll know what I mean.

Around the bend of the last half of the movie, it tries to add in a moral and human element to the plot ... but fails miserably. Stealing liberally from both Resident Evil and Aliens, the plot never rises to the level of either. That's right, it never even matches Resident Evil and doesn't even begin to reach the stratosphere of Cameron's work. It has all the nuances of a snuff film, but by the end of the movie you just wish they'd shoot the writer. Honestly, anyone who thought naming one of the main scientists in the film "Dr. Carmack" was clever doesn't deserve to have their name in celluloid. Only Uwe Boll's "Captain Kirk" beats that out for least intelligent character design.

The producers can bitch and whine all they want that the gamers got in the way of their grand, epic vision. The film speaks for itself. If someone took the title and set design out of the equation, they'd be left with a wildly subpar genre film who's only draw was to see the Rock's tattoos. The next time this studio wants to make a movie without any regard to the game or gamers involved, I humbly request they do just that. Stay the hell away from our games, please.

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Patrick Dugan said...

I think the root of the problem was that Doom III was derivative rendersoft masturbation, so there wasn't any sort of basis for a meaningful plot to be extrapolated.

Josh said...

I don't know if that's entirely fair. Doom III's plot was linear and shallow, but it wasn't non-existent nor was it terrible. All in all, it honestly isn't too far off the mark from Half-Life 2 in terms of telling a story, it's just that HL2 had better cinematics.

But they both come down to getting pieces of a backstory, moving on, killing things, repeat until end.

The beginning of Doom III is actually quite good, and honestly wildely underrated by everyone who writes the game off as a "tech demo", which is a sad estimate of the game's worth.

More to the point though, Doom III's themes of insanity, messing with hell and even some it's character changes ... are still better than what was done with the movie. So while it might not have been great, it would have served the film if they had adapted it as opposed to retrofitting some Doom props onto a Saturday matinee scifi movie.