The main reason for a film critic to bring a notebook to something like "Doom"is to diligently record the names of all the unknown actors whose sole function is to circle around the one recognizable star like contestants on "The Bachelorette."
So when an elite military unit is called upon to travel through a mysterious portal in Nevada called "The Ark," taking them to a research facility on Mars, Sarge (The Rock) is quickly surrounded by John Grimm (Karl Urban), who's appropriately grim, Destroyer (Deobia Oparei), Goat (Ben Daniels), Duke (Razaaq Adoti), Portman (Richard Brake) and The Kid (Al Weaver).
Moviegoers who aren't into video games (i.e. those who have felt the harsh sting of sunlight in the last six months) should be warned that this movie is based on the popular "first-person shooter" game, so named because the perspective of the game gives the player the sensation of holding the weapon. It should be no surprise then that the research facility is overrun with mutant creatures and that the solution to the problem is simply to shoot the creatures, blow them up and/or kill them in other violent and disgusting ways. In the world of video games, this is known as a "plot."
However, director Andrzej Bartkowiak isn't content to leave bad enough alone, and -- perhaps as a sort of rebellion against his source material -- goes to absurd lengths to humanize his tale of low-resolution mutant hunters. It's not just a movie about walking slowly through dark hallways and shooting monsters that look like rejects from the set of "Resident Evil." No, we discover that Dr. Samantha Grimm, resident forensic anthropologist at the research facility, is also John Grimm's sister. This is a movie about family, damn it!
Making a movie based on a video game poses some unique challenges. In this case, the main challenge seems to be how to rip off other movies so as to get to the 100-minute mark. We quickly discover in "Doom" that the mutants are former human beings, changed by an extra chromosome. Humans turning into monsters: Isn't that the subject of every other horror film these days? And of course, this movie owes more to "Aliens" and "Stargate" than Harriet Miers owes to George W. Bush.
There are several shocks in this movie. Unfortunately, the appearance of some semblance of acting ability from The Rock is not among them. Fans of "Doom" will be thrilled about one Doom-like homage, while the uninitiated may find themselves on the floor in a pool of their own vomit. Sadly, that may finally be the point where everyone gets to smell what the Rock is cooking.
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