There is something about the current situation we’re in that lead to this moment. As of right now we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that has lead to our government essentially locking down the country. We’ve been told to only go outside for essentials. This has meant that I have had way too much time to fester in my own thoughts and regrets. It’s not a situation I ever thought I would be in but here we are and I figured it is about time to make the best of a bad situation. So naturally I’m going to use all this free time to review bad video game movies again. Every Friday!

With the recent release of DOOM Eternal it seems only natural to look at 2005’s DOOM. Starring future box office champion Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson who was still in a ROCKY period of his transition from wrestling to Hollywood, as well as Rosamund Pike and Karl Urban leading the cast. The film revolves around a group of marines who are sent to a research facility on Mars after an attack from an unknown creature on a small group of scientists leads to a quarantine (oh no).

The Rock plays Sarge, the leader of the group of marines sent to contain the problem. Joining him is John ‘Reaper’ Grimm (Karl Urban), whose parents died at the research station and also his twin sister happens to be a researcher there, “Destroyer” (Deobia Oparei), a big man with a big gun, “Goat” (Ben Daniels), the oldest and most religious member of the group, “Duke” (Raz Adoti), the charming ladies man, Portman (Richard Brake) the sleazy loudmouth, “The Kid” (Al Weaver), the rookie on his first mission and “Mac” (Yao Chin) who is also there.

Their mission is to find the six missing scientists and to back-up the research data kept in the station, which is where Sam (Rosamund Pike) comes into play. The station is dark and clearly something big has gone down. As the other soldiers scope out the place, John reunites with his twin Sam who tells them they have reopened the archaeological dig site where their parents were killed in an accident. They found remains of a couple of humanoids, with the main subject Lucy having an extra set of chromosomes from humans. This genetic change could be the key to creating superhumans as it enhances their abilities.

The Marines find the lead scientist Dr. Carmack from the opening of the film, scared, traumatised and clearly hurt. They take him back to the medical lab to get checked on by Sam as he tries to mutter a warning to Sam but struggles to get the words out. Back on the excursion of the facility our soldiers find themselves in a sewer and considering this is a video game movie they really should have realised that the sewer level usually sucks. In the case of ‘Goat’ it really sucked because he died. The creature who killed ‘Goat’ soon meets the same fate and the two bodies are brought back by the gang who demand answers from Sam to questions like “WTF?” and “Seriously, WTF?”.

While Duke oversee’s Sam perform an autopsy on the creature, Carmack gets up and leaves his bed. They also deduce that the creature shares many of the same organs as human beings and after they witness Goat come back from the dead and proceed to kill him before he could ‘turn’ that’s when they realise that the creatures who are hunting them were the scientists, mutated beyond all recognisability and with no prior memory of who they used to be. Carmack returns as a hideous monster and they manage to trap him within a nano wall. You know, a nano wall. No, I will not try to explain it.

Sarge heads to the armoury and finds a secret weapon that they have developed, the BFG. Which stands for Big Heckin’ Gun. Meanwhile, the rest of the Gang run into more creatures and while they do take down a couple they lose a few along the way. Mac gets decapitated, Portman decides to go against Sarge’s orders and secretly sends a message for backup from a bathroom stall but ends up backup in the air by a monster who kills him and Destroyer, who Portman was supposed to stick with, dies despite a valiant fight against one of the mutants. The survivors return to the lab with Sarge enraged. When Sam informs him that the creatures were scientists that had turned he goes berserk, finishing Carmack off with a gun to the mouth and comes to the conclusion that the best way to contain this mess is to make sure everyone is dead. It turns out this facility was secretly being used for human experiments by adding the extra 24th chromosome – which is what turned everyone into those creatures.

However, as Sarge, Kid and Duke are out making sure everyone in the facility who is dead stays dead, Sam and her bro figure out that not everyone infected with the C24 turns into creatures and that it is something in people’s DNA – if they are full of anger or evil they will more than likely turn. However, one mutant manages to break his way to the arc and transports their way to Earth. The gang follow suit to find everyone dead, so Sarge orders that they make sure EVERYONE stays dead, even survivors. The Kid finds a group of survivors holed up in a secure room. When Kid informs Sarge that he did not kill them as order, Sarge kills the Kid for insubordination, thus completing his heel turn.

Sarge and Reaper have an intense face off but before it can go any further they are interrupted by a mutant who runs off but a horde of creatures come after the soldiers and despite their efforts to fight them off and trap them, Duke ends up dragging dragged through a vent on the floor killing him. Sarge himself gets dragged behind the nano wall it closes shut. As Reaper shoots the horde the wall closes and ricochets the bullet back into his gut. Sam injects Reaper with the C24 despite his worries that he’ll turn due to his violent past. The injection knocks him out…

…and as he awakens he finds that his sister is gone but the movie is now in FIRST PERSON. Yes, this is scene people remember and to be fair is by far the most interesting part of the whole movie. Reaper goes through the facility in this FPS view that mimics the game really well. He goes around killing mutants and making his way to his sister – he even has a boss fight against a turned member of the extended squad Pinky who he fought off using a chainsaw. To be fair to the movie they even managed to end the first person perspective as soon as the novelty was starting to wear off so I’ll give props to them for that.

Reaper reaches his sister who is injured but he is then confronted by Sarge who has been infected but hasn’t yet turned. Sarge has killed the remaining survivors and suggests that they both go home. Reaper has other ideas and they both use their last shots to narrowly miss each other. They decide to screw their weapons and fight using their newfound superhuman abilities. The fight features lots of meaty punches and floaty jumps but eventually Sarge gets the upper hand and impales Reaper with a thin metal rod through his hand. As Sarge slowly gives in to his mutated side though, Reaper opens up the Arc and sends Sarge back to the facility on Mars, along with a powerful grenade that destroys the whole facility. John escapes with Sam as ‘You Know What You Are?” by my favourite band Nine Inch Nails play and that’s a wrap on DOOM.

DOOM isn’t bad, but it’s not good either. I feel like they had a very good cast on their hands and yet I feel like none of them are used to the best of their abilities. Johnson, Urban and Pike have all gone on to do great things but they are really wasted here. There’s no charm to DOOM and I feel like this leads to the film just not hitting any of the right marks as an action movie. It’s not particularly scary either on the horror side though they are some gross gory parts and for me personally there was a couple of scenes involving needles that I cannot deal with. Someone getting their hand trapped in a door until it is squeezed so hard it comes off? Bah, baby stuff. Someone getting an injection? Now, that’s terror.

I’ve not played a lot of DOOM but when I think of DOOM I think metal riffs, badass action and a whole lot of demon slaying. I feel like this movie could have been called something else and the only thing that would have changed would be what I expected out of it. I feel like of they leaned in on the personality of the games – like what the 2016 DOOM reboot did – it would have been a more enjoyable movie. Especially with The Rock in your cast, let him have a personality. I know this was early days of his Hollywood career but he has shown that through his personality and charisma he can carry films on his big shoulders.

The first person sequence is fantastic and a genuine novel moment in what is otherwise a very generic movie. A nice homage to the game as well as the inclusion of the BFG but other than that there’s little to suggest that this is DOOM. I don’t know about DOOM 3, I know that game had a tonal shift so I’m not sure if that had something to do with it. It’s a shame because I feel like making a DOOM movie would be easy – well, we’ll see when we eventually do Annihilation in like a couple of years. Basically just make the movie equivalent of a balls to the wall metal album and it would be a great DOOM film.

It is a film that I feel is competently made but is let down by a poor script and a lack of personality. It’s not a particularly interesting film but I know my partner in crime here at XtA Blake has more fondness for DOOM than I do so maybe we can convince her to write a counter-review. Until then though, I’m afraid my personal thoughts of this movie are…DOOMed.

FINAL SCORE –

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