Doom

Doom. Universal Pictures 2005.

Before watching the movie:

I’m not versed on the lore of Doom, but I think it’s pretty simple. There’s some kind of complex infested by demons, and one guy with a lot of guns takes them out. This movie is about a team fighting aliens. So already not the most faithful.

Later games probably built up the story, but I’m pretty sure it’s always essentially a lone guy fighting demons. But lone guys are hard to write movies for. I’m sure the change to aliens was something like embarrassment, but I completely get making it a team, even if it was probably not the best possible decision.

After watching the movie:

Twenty years after a wormhole gateway leading to an ancient Martian city was discovered on Earth, the UAC research facility is overrun by a mysterious invasion. Answering Dr. Carmack’s distress call, a squad of elite Marines is sent to identify and contain the threat and assist with the retrieval of UAC assets and research, the team consisting of Sarge Mahonin, John “Reaper” Grimm, and a bunch of other guys who don’t matter as much. On Mars, the some of the marines escort Reaper’s anthropologist sister Dr. Sam Grimm as she retrieves the computer data from the complex’s departmental labs while others sweep the site for signs of the attacking force. The scientists recently found skeletons of Martian humanoids and, in studying their DNA, found that Martians had a 24th chromosome that gave them superstrength and rapid healing. As the scientists and marines get killed off by the monsters in the facility, Sam Grimm and the marines soon see that those killed by the beasts quickly resurrect as the monsters, and it all has to do with the secret experiments of the research team. As the monsters use the wormhole to cross over to the locked down Earth side of the portal, Sarge orders a complete sterilization of the base, no time to consider the possibility of saving anyone even potentially affected by the genetic mutations.

As expected, most of the team is there as horror victims waiting to happen. Unsurprisingly, the most actively repulsive member of the crew is one of the last to die. I think there were only one or two I really liked of the six who aren’t leads. The Kid isn’t one of them. A good guy, but too green to really relate to until he’s finished off. I remember exactly one scene with Mac, where staff member Pinky asks him why an Asian guy (the actor is Chinese) is called “Mac” and he rattles off a Japanese name a mile long. Sarge actually halfway surprised me. I was wondering why the big-name leader with a lot of focus wasn’t the protagonist, and then it turns out it’s because he’s the military force that fully believes in Any Means Necessary, in a rare turn as a near-deuteragonist and a rogue element instead of the usual complete separation and total authority the type usually has.

Aside from presenting the monsters as mutants with alien DNA instead of actual supernatural demons from actual Hell, this movie seems pretty dedicated to bringing the video game to life. There’s even a sequence where Grimm goes through the complex mowing down monsters with first-person camera, which could only be more like a video game if there was an on-screen display of points, health, and ammo. The story might not be very much like the source material, but the aesthetic is trying very hard to be.

I wouldn’t be able to say for sure if fans of the video game would appreciate this. A lot of concessions (perhaps not all of them necessary) have been made to make it work as a movie. But it does bring in a lot more of the spirit of video gaming than a lot of video game movies have. It even walks the line between cheesy and excessive grimdark pretty well. I probably had more fun with it than I’ve had with the odd Doomlike I’ve played with from time to time.

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