Doom (2005)
Doom (2005)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Release Date: October 21st, 2005 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, DeObia Oparei, Ben Daniels, Raz Adoti, Richard Brake, Al Weaver, Dexter Fletcher, Brian Steele

 


 

I

n 2026, archeologists in a Nevada desert locate an ancient subterraneous portal to Mars, called the “Ark.” 20 years later, there are still no answers as to what happened to the civilization that built it. But a significant problem (and a definite clue) arrives in the form of a Level 5 breach at a Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) building situated on the red planet, which results in the bloody demises of six scientists.

Cutting their leave short, the Rapid Response Tactical Squad of the Marine Corps Special Ops devision in California is called into action to secure the Mars facility. Leader “Sarge” (The Rock) orders his team aboard a helicopter bound for the Ark, with John “Reaper” (Karl Urban) as his second-in-command. Once they’re transported to the Olduvai base (something like an airport), riddled with civilians, the group of heavily-armed soldiers proceeds to Dr. Carmack’s (Robert Russell’s) lab, where just about anything could await. One of the team members even predicts that the whole quarantine situation is probably just caused by a disgruntled employee with a gun.

The RRTS contains half-a-dozen specialists, but they’re largely indistinguishable. They’re each given nicknames (like “Destroyer” and “The Kid”) and stern grimaces, but their dialogue is mostly generic spurts of military lingo to fill in the time between monster attacks. And then there’s the obligatory, attractive woman (Rosamund Pike), a researcher ordered to aid the marines in infiltrating and retrieving data from the lab. The basic setup, fatigue designs, armaments, and characters are largely derivative of movies like “Aliens” or “Predator,” wherein overconfident, underprepared troops tackle an unforeseen extraterrestrial entity primed for bodily destruction.

To the film’s credit, the enemy creatures are not immediately revealed, allowing time for imaginations to run wild, particularly with the amusing notion of a phone left off the hook that records nothing but sustained screams, a 24-chromosome profile that suggests bioengineered supremacy in the culprit’s makeup, and a lone survivor left speechless with fear and covered in blood. Additionally, the sets are nicely humid, lightless, grimy, full of long hallways, and made from cold gray steel, and the action sequences are reasonably choreographed. But when scientists do start turning up and exhibiting zombie-like behaviors, events grow a little less stimulating. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with here!”

The sci-fi horror components are generally amusing (save for the early mutation concepts that dispense with plain, dependable, killer aliens), with a few decent jump scares, goopy creature violence, and man-in-a-suit costuming, but the characters aren’t convincing (even when panicking and shouting) or sympathetic (they’re mostly maniacs and weirdos), and the story is terribly formulaic. So when the men are picked off one by one, it hardly matters who lives or dies; and when xenogenesis experiments are revealed, it’s not a surprise. Strangely, there are scenes to fill in John’s backstory, which couldn’t be more meaningless, and, even more bizarre, is a subplot involving illegal drug use, as if an homage to “Ghosts of Mars” – which certainly wasn’t good enough to warrant such a nod. With ill-fitting electric guitar riffs, a self-aware tongue-in-cheek vibe that contributes to incredibly insincere dialogue and unintentional humor, and a first-person-shooter sequence that is unique but difficult to take seriously, “Doom” harbors more flaws than successes. Fortunately, some of it is good enough to make viewers momentarily forget that all of this is based on a video game series.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10