UMD Review: Doom

It took $70 million to bring classic game Doom to the screen. Where, why, and how that money was spent never ends up on screen. It looks like a cheap B-movie, hiding the creatures in the darkness even though the suits are spectacular. It also misses countless key details from the game, and as such, it has no reason to be called Doom in the first place.

Switching gears from creatures that sprouted from the depths of hell to genetic experimentation gone wrong, Doom doesn't appeal to anyone. The action fans out there will find the long, pointless build up unnecessary (especially since the space marines end up as food anyway) and video game fans only have a few moments to smirk at the references (Dr. Carmack, BFG). Much of the film is comprised of shots showing the actors walking through a hallway at the viewer. It wouldn't be stretch to say 30% of the movie is filmed this way.

This is of course a direct contrast to the game, one that had a first person viewpoint that still holds up today. During a brief five or so minute run at the end, we get to see that from Karl Urban's view. The sequence is put together wonderfully, and the pinky demon is realized successfully. This is the sole showcase moment of the film, and about the only fan service it has to offer.

Long before you make it to that sequence near the finale, you'll need to deal with tired marine dialogue and The Rock who in no way is allowed to be The Rock. When your lead character's name is Sarge (and he's accompanied by Goat, The Kid, Mac, Duke, and Pinky), the movie never should be made. It's inherently cheesy in a movie that's trying to be a serious horror film.

The large set pieces at times feel overdone. Very little in this movie isn't. The guns are huge, creatures enormous, and the effects stuck in places where there shouldn't be any in the first place. Creatures remain subdued in their design, with a fleshy, burnt look that adds to the creepiness of the long corridors, but doesn't do much to the movie.

The long winding corridors of Doom almost make it feel like an Alien clone. Sadly, nothing else about it does. It's a dull action film, and it's hard to think of a more critical flaw in the genre than that. Video game fans have been betrayed again by Hollywood. (* out of *****)

Doom is a dark film, and it's important that a video transfer captures the feeling of isolation. That doesn't happen on the PSP. It's hard to comprehend black levels going this far off track, yet the murkiness of the transfer makes you wonder if anyone actually mastered this for the hardware at all. It's a miserable presentation that shows off compression and an odd halo effect around everything when in contrast with the blacks. Clarity is showcased when it can be, though that's rare. (*)

With guns firing all over the place, it's hardly a surprise that Doom provides the best audio it can when stuck inside two channels. Dialogue wraps around to where the actor is speaking, and you'll know where a monster will strike if the stereo is used. Bass is definitely on the heavy side, with music and gunfire drowning out other audio. (****)

The unrated UMD version offers two extra features from the DVD. Master Monster Makers looks at Stan Winston's creature shop. It's a place where DVD fans have been to previously, though it's always nice to see some traditional effects in action. However, there is nothing on the first-person sequence here. Basic Training with the Rock takes us through a training camp the actors went through to prepare for their roles. For a movie about space marines landing on Mars to take on horribly disfigured mutants, accuracy training seems like a stretch. At the least, it explains where the budget went.

There is an odd note here. There are two features on DVD about the game. Neither are included. When a movie is playing on a game system like this, logic should dictate that these take precedence. They're short enough that space wasn't a concern, so there's little excuse. (**)

It's become clich├ęd to say that this is another video game movie to the slowly growing steaming pile. There's no other way to put it anymore, and as long as studios keep tossing money out to produce these travesties, we'll continue to suffer through them. In the case of Doom, there was little chance given the meager story of the series. It's nothing more than a familiar name slapped onto a movie that is completely disconnected to the initial product.

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