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When the game Doom first appeared, the PC gaming community was changed forever.

Sure, gamers had already experienced the capabilities of the first person shooter genre in the capable hands of id Software with their Nazi themed shooter, Wolfenstein 3D. Doom, on the other hand, introduced something entirely different with its space themed journey spanning from a remote space station on Mars straight into the pits of hell. Players assumed control of a lone space marine sent to battle the demonic forces unleashed when scientists accidentally opened a portal to hell while developing teleportation technology.

So many tiny touches within the game made it a memorable journey: the method with which the enemies appeared and attacked at the most inopportune time, the bone chilling sound effects, and the wide variety of weapons with which gamers could use to unleash carnage on zombie soldiers, demons, and other nefarious monsters.

Yet this isn’t about Doom the video game; this is about Doom the movie adaptation of the video game, starring Duane “The Rock” Johnson as Sarge. Yes, dear friends, that sound you hear is the collective cringing of Doom fanboys around the globe.

The cold hard truth is, director Andrzej Bartkowiak’s Doom begins well enough. We are quickly introduced to Sarge and his team of spacemarines called in to investigate a series of possible contamination cases on a space station on Mars.

The Marines must teleport from Earth to Mars via an ancient teleportation device nicknamed “The Ark.” The origins of this device are unknown, as the “relic” was discovered years ago, and needless to say it didn’t come with an instruction manual. Ok, so this doesn’t jive with the games storyline completely, but it works. We lose the “lone space marine” motif initially because we need fodder for all the cool monsters and demons they are about the face off against, right?

Well, in principle, sure. Being a video game, Doom was chock full of “retries” for gamers as they navigated their way through increasingly difficult levels.

Fall into lava? Respawn.

Accidentally frag yourself with a misplaced rocket into a nearby wall? Respawn.

Crushed beneath the steel foot of a rather unfriendly Cyberdemon? For heavens’ sake, respawn!

Gamers died a billion different ways by the many obstacles and opponents, so it's only natural that we will need a bevy of meat puppets to dispose of along the way. After all, how could the filmmakers account for the multiple lives of Sarge had they not given him any companions to push in front of demons along the way?

This is around the point where Doom begins to lose its appeal. Sure, the set design looks like a spot on incarnation of the Doom 3 environment, right down to the door panel sensors, but when you start breaking away from the essential elements that made Doom so memorable you end up losing your built in audience.

Taking notes, Warner Brothers?

Doom fans expect a variety of villains, doing the things villains in the game were known to do. Here we are given one type of enemy from the game, commonly named The Imp, and said creature doesn’t even behave as it did within the game. Imps throw fireballs, they have spikes on their arms and they shred flesh with their claws. Here we are given a variation on the nemesis from Aliens, creatures whose modus operandi are to populate through the infestation of hosts. If we wanted our Doom mixed with Aliens, we could have just installed the Aliens TCP WAD instead.

The Imps in the film take out marine after marine, usually with a claw to the face which results in the marine being dragged off screen to his fate, kicking and screaming. When we finally get a glimpse at another creature type, there is no real reasoning to support why this person happened to morph into a completely different shape and size monster.

It would seem that the studio had a problem with the theme of “Hell on Mars,” although they had no qualms using it in their advertising campaign. What the film does right is good; the problem is that they are few and far between. We are given a really well constructed sequence introducing the Bio Force Gun, or commonly referred to as BFG in the gaming community. If only this sort of attention was applied to the rest of the Doom arsenal.

The other centerpiece of the film is a brief sequence shot entirely in a first person perspective mimicking the games on look and design. This sequence works particularly well, especially when the chainsaw is implemented. Unfortunately, this sequence is employed far too late in the game, forgive the pun, and many of the enemies dispatched during the FPS scenes have the type of Artificial Intelligence that would rival a carnival shooting gallery.

Overall, Doom is what it is, an entertaining if basic and simplistic actioneer and not much more.


Mario Anima

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