A video game with a cult-like following, which pretty much single-handedly changed First Person Shooters (FPS) into a game archetype of their own. A game every male of my generation with a computer played when it came out, and map sites still exist on the internet. Scientists open a portal to Hell on Martian moons, and demons come through killing anyone they can get their claws on. Only the Doom Guy (as I and my friends called him) stands in their way. Oh, and there is some sequel that came out recently that’s pretty dark, I hear. With lame franchises like Alone in the Dark and Double Dragon losing money at the box office, it was only a matter of time before studios got the bigger named video game movies out so they, too, could lose lots of money. That was attempted to be avoided with this film, where they actually kept some aspects of the plot, and introduced some gimmicks to get people in the audience. But is the film any good? Or are we doommed? Will I use any more terribly obvious puns? Read on, read on…
Karl Urban is John Grimm, the guy who’s head you always see at the bottom of the screen in various stages of health depending on how much you’ve been shot by demons. You probably know him as That Guy from Lord of the Rings 2 and 3, or Bourne Supremacy. He’s a Marine, part of the Rapid Response Tactical Squad (RRTS). Various other team members abound, but first let’s go over their Sarge, Sarge, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s the Sarge. Exciting stuff. Actually, it is, what with him being in charge of the group and giving the movie some cool moments. Sarge is a by-the-book soldier who follows orders, no matter what. The rest of the group we are introduced to, and get names for when they suit up and head out, as the weapons systems identify them by handles, much as video game players go by handles while playing. There is Destroyer, the young black guy; Goat, the crazy religious guy; Portman, the horndog; and The Kid, the rookie guy; and some other guys who get killed off quickly or without being developed enough to give them personalities. The team goes to where a portal to Mars was found in the desert, to be teleported to Mars (itself, not the moons) and investigate. Mars is locked down, since something killed some people there and the RRTS has to find out what. They don’t find the Hordes of Thark, much to my disappointment.
Oh, hey, John Grimm was on Mars as a kid and his parents died there in a freak accident, while his estranged twin sister now works on Mars in the very place their parents died. This caused a rift that kept the family from talking for ten years or so. That’s the backstory to make John Grimm the reluctant hero. The RRTS run around a bit, and have a guy named Pinky running data information for them. Pinky is missing the bottom half of his body due to a teleportation mishap, so below the waste it’s all wheelchair. John Grimm’s sister is the staff member ordered to retrieve some data from the area, named Samantha Grimm and played by Rosamund Pike. There was no sister in the games as far as I know, and the movie also doesn’t have the hack that turns the final monsters into Barney the Dinosaurs! Damn you, Movie Makers! Damn you to Hell! Hell being Mars! Because in the movie Hell is Mars, not Hell Hell. You see, the message of the film is Hell is what you make it, being different for each person. Hell for John Grimm (brother of Ben Grimm, aka The Thing) is Mars, where his parents died. That is just so happens to be full of mutated monsters is just gravy. You see, exobiological archeologists like Samantha Grimm have been digging up skeletons of the previous Martian civilization, who look pretty darn human. Except they have an extra chromosome. Instead of causing a culture of Down’s Syndrome, this chromosome is genetically modified. So if you buy that, besides me having some prime swampland to sell you, the humans have been replicating the extra chromosome and started running experiments on it, thus causing the demon problem, as the demons are mutated humans. Or Demonic-Martian-Americans, to be PC. Now, if you buy THAT, and if you do I have a big green statue of a lady in New York to sell you, then you’ll love this part: The chromosome makes good people into supermen, and bad people into demons. The demons can sense bad people, and chose them to infect, every else is killed. How do they sense bad people? By their tongues and neurotransmitters in the bad people. Yep. I guess portals to Hell was just too out there. I do applaud the movie’s use of “Hell is different for different people” idea, but they should have just stuck with portals to Hell. But I’m not gonna go all “Nerd Rage” on this movie. At least they kept most of the basic elements, and this isn’t a love story involving an animated cat and Krypton not exploding. Rumors on the net circulated there was no Hell, no monsters, no BFG, no FPS, no The Rock, no Mars, no smoking, no running with scissors, no going into the pool until an hour after you’ve eaten, and no escape. Most of that is not true, but The Rock goes for a swim after just eating some MREs. Shame on you, The Rock! Such a bad example for our children.
Speaking of “for the children” we get an out of place drug scene. Why? Who knows. It goes nowhere, but acts like it was trying to go somewhere. Sort of like this paragraph. Take that!
Yep, BFG is in the movie. The Big Friendly Giant from Roald Dahl, a classic of Western Children’s Literature. The Rock reads from the book, and the great literary stylings melt the demon’s brains. Okay, okay. The BioForce Gun is in the movie, it’s floating in the air like in the game, it blows crap up like in the game, and it’s called onscreen the “Big F—ing Gun” by the Rock, just like we did for the game. The Rock also gets most of the best lines (“Semper Fi, Mother F—er!” for example) because he’s awesome. Even though he’s not the hero, he’s the main character, and the movie knows it. That’s both good and bad. The Rock jumps to the point of going evil when it becomes clear to follow orders they must massacre all the civilians. So is it any wonder why he becomes a demon, what with the evil people becoming demons? That was a rhetorical question, you didn’t have to answer it.
Let’s chat about one of the biggest drawing powers of the film: The First Person Shooter sequence. It’s the finest part of the movie. I felt entirely justified in spending the money to see the film just to watch that short sequence. We got so see several weapons used, including the chainsaw in a neat fight with the demonized Pinky. We got a mix of monsters in the fight, and he even shoots at his own reflection, something everyone has done in a FPS. So, yeah, it’s cool.
Bottom line, is this flick any good? Well, it’s fun, but it’s not great fun. We don’t care about a lot of the extra characters, especially since we know they are all doomed. Oops, I made the “doomed” pun again. Oh, well. The ride is fun, the Rock is cool, the BFG looks great, but the film is not special. Go for the FPS, but besides that it’s got nothing standing it out from the muck. Still, that little something gives it an edge this year in the cinema, but is not enough of an edge to maintain over time. The ability to stand the test of time is….well….DOOMED.
Rated 6/10 (Scope, Elevator, Red Rock, The Kid, Duke, Human Genome? What were they thinking?)
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