Review: Doom

doom_cov.jpgYear: 2005
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, The Rock
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 21

Plot
A Marine squad is sent to Mars to gain control of an isolated research facility where an unknown entity has attacked the staff.

Quick Review
Doom bored me. On every important aspect of an action movie, this film fails. The simple plot doesn’t work. Much of the film is too dark. The pace stutters. The horror emphasis is poorly executed. The acting carries little emotional force. The film does little to make us care about the characters. The action is repetitive, and the improvement at the end comes too late to save the film. Please, give me back these two hours of my life.

Full Review
Films depicting a squad of soldiers fighting aliens are common in the action movie world. Maybe because of the fun I had with the poorly reviewed Alien vs. Predator, I was thinking I might enjoy Doom, despite its overall mediocre reviews. Unfortunately, where Alien vs. Predator gets much of the mood right, Doom falls flat on its face. By any standard, this is a poorly executed film.

First, the pacing is terribly out of whack. Doom essentially stuffs ten minutes of content into the first 40 minutes of the doom_1.jpgmovie. Despite having the thinnest of plots at the start, it takes Doom an eternity to generate any velocity. The first chunk of the movie is spent getting to the research facility, talking about where stuff is in the facility, and then walking around in the dark with flashlights, doing the “scan-the-light-around-the-corner” horror trick over and over. Even my DVD player got tired of this, as it crapped out and gave me an “unable to read disc” error as soldiers searched yet another empty room. Unfortunately for me, I was able to clean the disc and get it to work again.

After the slow start things pick up somewhat, but with so little character development and characters who are as likeable as rocks (pardon the pun), it’s hard to care about what happens in the movie. And that’s not all that’s wrong with this movie. Doom makes the same mistake as Starship Troopers 2, in that it bills itself as an action movie, but in doom_2.jpgreality is mostly a graphic, bloody horror film. There is precious little action in the middle section of the movie, and what there is consists mostly of shooting at shadows in the darkness. Done well, they could have generated some tension here, but a lot of the scenes are so dark that I couldn’t see what was going on. This is a shame in itself, because the set looked fairly impressive when you could actually see it. All in all, both the action and the horror elements are just plain boring. Also, after the movie takes time to attempt to describe the layout of the facility and the squad’s mission, all this vanishes in the middle of the movie. The soldiers split up and walk around in the darkness, so you have little idea of who is where. Then they see a shadow so they all come back together to chase it, then they split up again, and so on. Sigh. Mostly they seem to split up to make it easy to get killed, but who am I to complain. By this point I was rooting for an alien massacre so the movie would end quickly.

Surprisingly, the film’s story takes on some substance in the back half of the film. However, the actions of the characters don’t make sense given the situations, the story takes weird and unconvincing plot turns to justify setting up the final battle, and there is little attention to the premise. At times, characters do inexplicable things. Take for example, this situation. The squad rescues a critically wounded researcher and brings him back to the facility hospital, doom_karl_urban.jpgwhere researcher Samantha Grimm (played by Rosamund Pike) and a solider are stationed. After examining his incoherent, frothing condition, they roll his gurney off to the side. A few minutes later, the guy gets up and walks away, with blood dripping all over the floor. Nobody decides to look for him, and Samantha casually remarks that he has disappeared. Huh? You just spent a half hour trying to save the man, he’s having spasms and near death, and you don’t bat an eye when he vanishes from the hospital?

The action as well picks up substantially toward the end of the film, but it gets repetitive fast. How many times can we watch a soldier shoot a lumbering zombie? By the time the movie finally gets twisted to accommodate the ending, the action is actually fairly good. The cheesy visual effects that dominate the movie take a step up in quality at this point. The amazing set provides for some solid mini-scenes. But where was this stuff for the first hour and forty-five minutes? There is a creative yet ultimately unimpressive segment shot to resemble a first-person gaming experience, but the final battle is fast, powerful, and entertaining. I still don’t know why they didn’t take this focus for the first 80 percent of the movie. The last fifteen minutes actually felt more like the game Doom than anything preceding it.

Overlaying the entire film is a downright bland script and uninspired acting. I am one of the few people who liked the Rock in Scorpion King, but here he is simply way off target. He yells lines forcefully enough, but they just don’t carry any conviction. He gets generally crappy support as well from a cast that never rises to life. The one exception is Rosamund Pike, who manages to capture the mood of an intelligent researcher caught in a situation out of her element. At times they give her some nearly undeliverable lines and stupid situations to play, yet she survives them to give the impression doom_rosamund_pike.jpgof some acting talent.

As for Babes and Hunks, I found Rosamund Pike intelligently attractive as the research scientist, but the film does little to promote a sensual side to her in the film. From a Hunk perspective, Karl Urban looks great as John Grimm. It’s hard to believe that this is the same Karl Urban that looked so uninspiring in Pathfinder. The Rock is strikingly handsome as well. Elsewhere, things are a mixed bag.

All in all, Doom bored me. On every important aspect of an action movie, this film fails. The simple plot doesn’t work. Much of the film is too dark. The pace stutters. The horror emphasis is poorly executed. The acting carries little emotional force. The film does little to make us care about the characters. The action is repetitive, and the improvement at the end comes too late to save the film. Please, give me back these two hours of my life.

Related Reviews
Alien vs. Predator, Starship Troopers 2, Scorpion King, Pathfinder

Score
Pace: 42
Plot: 33
Action: 28
Consistent Premise: 38
Script/Quotes: 21
Characters: 36
Acting: 32
Villain: 17
Body Count: 68
Time to First Dead Body: 2 minutes, 13 seconds
Babes: 27
Hunks: 78
Explosions: 12
Special Effects: 36
Stunts: 47
Ending: 28

Overall: 21 (Watch Alien vs. Predator instead)

[tags]Doom, The Rock, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, action movie, movie review[/tags]

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