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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

Movie review: Doom *

Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)
plays Sarge in Doom.
Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) plays Sarge in Doom.

Never one to read those thick booklets of instructions and exposition that come with video games - I prefer the fail-as-you- learn approach - I couldn't really tell you if there is a back story to the seminal and popular Doom video-game series.

I believe it has something to do with a planet and a virus and a soldier and creatures that run, one after another, to kill him. I couldn't tell you how he got there, or his notions of good and evil, or why he doesn't just go retire on Uranus.

I was too involved in blowing holes in zombie heads to care. So the new feature film version of Doom wants to tell me anyway. And as I watched this well-paced but boring shooting gallery, which stars a sheepish-looking Rock shouldering a bazooka as if it were covered in baby diapers and eggshells, I got to thinking about things (not encouraged here, of course), and let me say:

Doom is, like, so over.

It's been so over for years now, replaced by other first-person shooters like Halo and Resident Evil and their imitations. If you wonder why teens don't listen to congressmen who complain about game violence, one reason is that they always mention Doom, and complaining about Doom in 2005 is like a parent complaining about the corrupting influence of Jerry Lee Lewis.

I mention this because Doom, the movie, finds no fresh reason to make the premise or material relevant - other than its brand recognition with a certain male demographic, who will either geek out that a handful of scenes ape the game and are shot from the point of view of the soldier, complete with the game's dim lighting, or they will wonder why they put their pants on and shut off a warm Xbox for a multiplex.

No one expects The Godfather from a movie based on a video game, but the least they could do is pass on the reheated Aliens mash for some Alamo: At its best, the video game of Doom leaves you in a corner with an unrelenting army of bad guys at your door and a limited number of bullets in your clip. I have actually sweated playing it. The Rock never even lifts a unibrow.

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