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Doom: Annihilation (a movie review)

If you remember good old 1990s and were using computers back then, chances are you remember Wolfenstein 3D. And if so, you certainly remember Doom and its sequel, Doom 2: Hell on Earth. We’re talking about the great age of PC games. Obviously, the franchise has spread to consoles as well and now the new version, called Doom Eternal.

So much for games.

Doom, take one.

As it slowly, but steadily became a standard – one example of which is the Resident Evil franchise – if anything from realm of gaming can be transferred to the movie screen, it will. Actually, it’s nothing new, just recall Super Mario Brothers and other more-less successful projections on the silver screen (ehm, Street Fighter, ehm).

Any surprise there eventually was a Doom movie? The year was 2005 and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (known for Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave) the movie’s seen pairing of wrestling superstar Wayne “The Rock” Johnson (who has previously honed his movie skills in sucessful adventure flicks Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King) and movie’s main hero Karl Urban (Ghost Ship, The Bourne Supremacy) together and against each other.

I’ve just re-watch the movie to refresh my memory of it (as it was, I hardly remember anything of it bar the fact I didn’t really liked it back then) and I will admit I liked it more this time around, especially the FPS sequence, which was really great. The movie was quite dark, but that might be down to me being lazy to adjust the brighteness of my TV, but other than that, I guess we all might agree it was not really following the videogame. I hope I won’t spoil anything, as I suppose by now everyone has seen the movie, but if not, here is a spoiler – in the videogame we haven’t battled mutated scientists and one Hell Knight. And also people haven’t turned to be monsters by being infected. This story arc kinda sucked. (end of spoiler)

But the movie was decent, nothing special tho, even with the $60 million budget.

Doom, take two.

Forward 14 years and here we are. Doom: Annihilation. Since I don’t follow new movies that much, I was taken by surprise with the trailer released and you can bet your last piece of your currency I’ve wanted to see this. Doom fan I am.

Luckily, Christmas season on Amazon has brought a good benefit in securing a Blu Ray disc with the movie for a decent price, so there was nothing to stop me from enjoying the flick. And I’ve checked the IMDB – 6.5/10. Sounded good.

Last night I’ve finally had a chance to watch it. And let me tell you, I did well to buy those Bluetooth wireless headphones. Good sound and not disturbing the family, that’s always a bonus.

And I have actually enjoyed it quite a lot! Obviously, take away the Doom logo and it’s another “marines against extraterrestrial threat” movie we all grew accustomed to during the 1980s and 1990s, completely with cliché characters, but I don’t want to watch a psychological drama. I want B-movie action movie in space. And I wanted a Doom movie! Did I get it?

Always look on the bright side.

I did get a Doom movie! OK, I won’t argue the fact that the alien head on the slipcover (and the BR cover as well) quite strongly resembles, well, Alien. So much for creativity.

But creators of the movie did get the feel of the videogame nicely. First of all, it’s all straightforward. Well, Doom videogame was not a psychological trip into the sould of a marine.

First thing to make you smile is the discovery of the headless corpse. OK, that’s probably not a reason to smile, but the name of the unfortunate marine? William Blaskowitz! Get it? That’s so nice a nod towards the origin of the FPS genre (Wolfenstein 3D) and with the bright coloured electronic keys (yep, you remember them from Doom game), the nostalgic feel will make you wanna play the game straight away again!

And it’s quite gory! Yay!

…we need to talk.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers also. Not much, mind you, but still. There are two sequences in the movie where I was scratching my head in disbelief.

(Spoiler) While the entry of the Imp – or what the hell the creature was – into the transport ship could be somehow explained (still, I consider it strange the pilot hasn’t heard it approaching with all its growls and hard steps), my biggest complain is probably the Dr. Betruger talk while the scientist Dr. Bennet Stone is repairing the reactor. I am no expert on Marine Corps’ procedures in dealing with disobedience/misconduct, but I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed to know the info he’d been talking about. And as it was, it had absolutely no meaning in the plot other than have him speak. That’s one of the weak spots of the movie.(end of spoiler)

Correction! Three sequences. The talk of the alien head honcho about being finally able to get back to Earth to annihilate the mankind was simply stupid. They’ve built those teleport gates in the first place, so they should know how to operate them, right?

Haters gonna hate.

I’ve checked the IMDB again to see what others users said about the movie. It has, as of now, score 3.6/10. So many 1/10 reviews it’s unbelievable.

Amy Manson as Joan Dark.

Hmm, should I cry over the fact the main hero is actually a heroine? Let me tell you, I am totally against rewriting the material just to appease whoever might cry the loudest nowadays (say hello to Ghostbusters remake), but having Amy Manson as a main heroine Joan Dark (which is nice nod to Joan d’Arc, of course)? Not for a second. The gender has nothing to do with the main role here. Would we play Doom videogame, if the main hero was indeed a woman? I would! And I think we would be bitching about re-shoot of Resident Evil with a male hero instead of Mila Jovovich. Sorry, spare me those tears.

Poor CGI and rubber costumes? Well, I prefer rubber costumes. But that’ me, apparently. There were some instances CGI was evident, but c’mon. You watch movie to pick on it, or for the overall experience?

I could go on and on, but you’ve got the point. Oh, and relatively unknown actors!!! Yawn.

Good, bad…or just ugly?

Kubrick this one ain’t. But I would be seriously considering checking in with my psychiatrist if I expect a direct-to-video title to be some one-of-a-kind masterpiece. As a whole, it is a nice little flick I enjoyed – and enjoyed well enough to be able to re-watch it in some not so distant future.

The creators made a nice cliffhanger ending for a possible sequel. I just hope that spending some few pounds on the BR disc will help it happen.

So don’t believe the negative hype and give it a chance. It deserves it.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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