Let’s watch another videogame adaptation.
Videogame-to-film adaptations are generally disastrous, and this one really isn’t an exception to that rule. We follow a group of space marines as they go to Mars to uncover what is happening at a major scientific facility.
The film doesn’t want for talent. The ever-charming Rock play Sarge, and Karl Urban takes the role of Reaper, with Rosamund Pike Supporting as Samantha (Reaper’s sister). However, as with a lot of these films, a decent cast doesn’t translate to a decent film. So, where does this one go wrong?
The story of Doom isn’t exactly Shakespearian, which means the film had to do something with it. I suppose watching a mute marine beat the crap out of demons for 90 minutes wasn’t an option. What we get here is a bit convoluted; an ancient race is discovered that had superhuman capabilities, but depending on the person, they might become a monster.
As the lab is now overrun with these creatures, the marines must race against time to prevent these things from making it back to Earth. All in all, the basic narrative kind of works as a pulpy sci-fi action flick. The execution is where things start to go wrong.
This is another one of those films that decided nobody deserves overhead lighting, so the characters (and the audience) are literally stuck in the dark for large swathes of the narrative. Coupled with a jumpy camera, the action sequences are more annoying and disorientating than pulse-pounding. We don’t ever get too great a look at what is happening, but it doesn’t built suspense due to it all happening so fast.
We also have a bit of a narrative tension here that is hard to ignore. Doom should be a cheesy, bloody, and intense roller-coaster. The film tries to deliver this (and does in the fun first person section), but too often it tries to be a drama, or some sort of commentary on science, or a horror film, or something else. The mixture doesn’t work, and we end up getting flat characters working flatly in a world that didn’t have to be so damn flat.
The idea of how far one might go to protect mass population from a sort of virus is interesting, but we don’t get a good faith argument from both sides. The game is set, and we are meant to side with the good guy, and having these lines so clearly drawn makes the slow reveal of what is happening not only predictable, but boring.
It would do this film (and many others) a service to choose a tone and stick with it. This movie would have been a lot better if it was just crazy action the whole time. Alternatively, it could have been surprisingly thoughtful if they chose to have well rounded people dealing with these complex issues.
As much as this film is a mess, there is a certain charm to it. The Rock helps makes bad movies fun, and there is a bit of fun to be had here. However, there are too many other options to really suggest this one.