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Doom: Unrated Extended Edition DVD Review

Doom: Unrated Extended Edition

March 7, 2006

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak,
Starring: The Rock, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Deobia Oparei, Ben Daniels, Razaaq Adoti, Richard Brake, Al Weaver, Dexter Fletcher, Brian Steele, Yao Chin, Robert Russell,

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DVD Review

Wow, a cinematic video game adaptation not directed by Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark) or Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil)?! I guess those guys must’ve been busy planning their next cinematic masterpieces when the casting call went out for Doom (2005). It is 2046 and humanity is studying a portal that transports one to Mars. An outpost has been established to study remnants of an ancient civilization. When contact with a research installation is lost, the Marines are called in.

They are a squad known as the Hellfighters and feature a crew of cardboard cut-out cliches ripped off of better movies, like Aliens (1986) and Predator (1987). You’ve got the tough-talking, by-the-book leader (The Rock), the strong, silent type (Urban), the comedian, the naïve, new guy and so on. Once the Marines get to Mars they find out that the research facility has been locked down and it’s up to them to go in, secure the place, deal with any nasties on the loose and retrieve valuable government data. As anyone knows who has played the very popular video games series that this movie is based on or seen Aliens, it isn’t going to be that easy and pretty soon a whole slew of dangerous creatures begins to systematically decimate the Marines’ ranks.

The Rock is one of those action film stars that you figure is a helluva lot smarter than most of the movies he’s in. So why does he keep appearing in forgettable turkeys like The Rundown (2003) and Walking Tall (2004)? The man’s proven that he’s got great comic timing (his guest spot on Saturday Night Live was hilarious) and is very funny (he was the best thing about Be Cool). Somewhere along the way someone must’ve convinced him that he could be heir to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s throne. So far, he’s yet to have his Terminator (1984) or Predator and has yet to find just the right material to suit his specific talents that would allow him to break through on a global level.

The Rock is good as the no-nonsense leader and does the best with what he has to work with. He brings a nice level of intensity necessary for the role. In some respects this is a different role for him as he starts out playing the traditional good guy but as the film progresses a certain military zeal in enforcing his mission’s parameters begins to consume his character leaving Karl Urban’s Reaper character as the rational voice of reason.

Watching Doom with even a passing knowledge of the action film genre (specifically ones of the ‘80s) one can make a mental checklist, ticking off the movies that it rips off. The film follows your basic hide-and-seek-and-kill formula and you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen next, who’s going to be killed and who will live. To the film’s credit, it doesn’t skimp on the gore or the ultraviolence that made the game so popular. It isn’t that Doom is a bad movie per se; it’s just not a terribly original one. As with most video game movies you end up wanting to play the game more than you want to watch the movie.

Special Features:

“Basic Training” takes a look at the two week rehearsal period that the cast spent on weapons training with an ex-Special Forces veteran. He taught them tactics and made it look like they were hardened combat vets. This was also the time that the cast spent bonding with each other so that their camaraderie on-screen was authentic.

“Rock Formation” shows how they did the make-up effects for The Rock when his character undergoes a certain transformation at the film’s climax. The star went through three stages of make-up during this part of the movie.

“Master Monster Makers” examines how they designed the creatures in the movie and wanted to make them faithful to the ones in the video game. This featurette takes us through the process of creating them and it is nice to see that they were are done with practical make-up and guys in rubber suits with no CGI.

“First Person Shooter Sequence” examines how they pulled off the film’s big scene that mimics the actual game by allowing the audience to see an action sequence through the eyes of one of the characters. It wasn’t an easy task and involved a lot of planning and visual effects. Best of all, we get to see the full-length sequence that runs five minutes.

Finally, there is “Doom Nation” that explores the phenomenon of the video game from it origins in the early ‘90s. Wolfenstein 3D was Doom’s ancestor and game designers took the first person shooter concept and ran with it. From this point on we are given brief look into the game’s evolution over the years and testimonies from gamers and designers about the addictive draw of the game.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 70%

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