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DOOM

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Raz Adoti, The Rock
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: February 7, 2006

"If it breathesÖKILL IT!"

Film ***

Every so often, we at DMC will make a stand for a movie that got critically dumped on. I find myself doing this a couple of times a year. My DMC mentor Mike even took the same course of action with his review of Fantastic Four. Now, itís time to expose the truth about Doom.

Most will agree that video games have not had many successful transformations into movies. For me, the closest one to just about get it right was the original Resident Evil in 2002. But if you run down the list of movie adaptations; Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon, House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, the results in trying to turn video games into cinematic entertainment have been mostly dreadful. As for the last two movies mentioned, ultimately unbearable!

So when I first heard that Doom was being adapted for the big screen, I prayed for the best, but expected the worst. Here was a game with such a high notoriety amongst gamers for being one of the first to incorporate the first person shooter technique. Fortunately, my expectations were far exceeded.

Doom is indeed the first movie adaptation of a video game to truly get it right. In addition, the movie is simply a rockiní hardcore gore-iffic thrill package. It also has some added bonuses, in terms of solid production design and standout visual effects; the type that was missing from a great deal of the lackluster movie adaptations before it. And thereís another added bonus; a terrific use of the Universal logo, which instead of Earth uses the fiery red planet of Mars to slowly rise over.

The only thing youíll have to forgive the movieís plot for is a nearly dead-on resemblance to that of Aliens. The story involves a top-level marine unit known as the Rapid Response Tactical Squad. Led by Sarge (The Rock) and John Grimm a.k.a. Reaper (Karl Urban), the unit has been ordered to travel to execute a search mission on a remote scientific facility on Mars. The mission is a bit more personal for Reaper, because his sister, Samantha (Rosamund Pike), is one of the scientists working in the facility.

Thereís been an extreme disturbance on the facility. Scientists in the laboratory have been wiped out by some mysterious presence, only to turn back up with their bodies somewhat altered in terms of DNA. The Marines go into the station with maximum firepower to administer a level-5 quarantine and exterminate whatever is lurking in the shadows.

Anyone whoís played any of the Doom video games knows exactly what to expect in the movie, nasty looking mutated creatures and lots of extensive shooting. As a movie, it may not sound too exciting. But believe me when I say that Doom is one of the most addictive video games in history. This, along with the computer game Wolfenstien, made you feel like you were the exterminator in the first person shooter mode.

And the big hype surrounding this movie was word that a first person shooter sequence was included. I was intrigued to see how it would turn out, though I wasnít sure if it would succeed as a movie sequence. Sure enough, there is and itís a standout moment, and it comes at the most perfect point in the movie. Anyone whoís played any of the Doom video games will fully appreciate the painstakingly crafted 5 minute sequence, which blew me away in how much it resembled its video game origins.

And as for the plot, I give it bonus points for adding a twist out of left field near the end. Without giving much away, Iíll simply say that are is an additional threat at hand. Itís one that, I at least, did not expect at all.

As I mentioned, critics seemed to have united in blasting this movie to hell. Then again, critics have never been kind to movies adapted video games, so I not so surprised that this was reviewed any differently. Itís not a very significant movie, just a damn good entertaining one and it is indeed the best film adaptation of a video game to emerge yet, and thatís saying a lot. I used to feel that video games turned in to movies would be something of a curse, but Doom gives this genre a sense of hope. How ironic a statement is that?

Video ****

For a movie that, for about 85% of its running time, is set in extremely darkened set pieces, this anamorphic transfer from Universal is a top-notch achievement. The image quality is nothing by sharpness and all around clarity, and not a hint of image flaws make their way into the presentation. Even during the continuous darkly lit sequences, the picture quality remains fully in tact, which is a rare thing to accomplish.

Audio ****

Lock ní load your stereo system, because itís going to get a huge working from the thunderous 5.1 mix. Right from the opening shot, the sound quality is as big and assaulting as a single DVD presentation can provide. When the action kicks in and the monsters pop up to attack, be prepared to take cover because the sound gets furious, causing outstanding surround sound quality. Dialogue and music are also balanced to sheer perfection.

Features ***

Be sure to pick up this Unrated Extended edition, because it includes more footage as well as extras that you wonít find elsewhere. Included on the disc are six featurettes; "Basic Training" shows how the actors were turned into fierce marines, "Rock Formation" reveals how make up effects were used in applying certain elements to his already monstrous physique, "Master Monster Makers" looks at the effects artists who brought the nasty creatures to life, "First Person Shooter" looks at the phenomenal sequence in addition to offering an extended version, "Doom Nation" follows the rise and popularity of the video game, and "Game On" takes a look at the current game release, "Doom 3".

An demo version of Doom 3 is also featured on the disc, and will work on Xbox consoles only.

Summary:

Doom is nothing more than rock-em, sock-em entertainment with plenty of hardcore action and gore to boot, and a well made one at that. Fans of the video game will not be disappointed at all, and those seeking a big guilty pleasure on a late Friday night will definitely get their moneyís worth.

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