Hippo Manchester
October 27, 2005

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Doom (R)
by Amy Diaz   adiaz@hippopress.com

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shoots stuff, most of if very splatty, in Doom, a movie adaptation of the video game.

Aliens make good villains in video games and video-game-adapted-from movies because of their splatty properties. A good round of CGI bullets in their CGI hides and these slimy, monstrous creations become puddles of green, black and red goo that can drip from things and help give military bunkers a sense of menace. Also, their non-human-ness avoids any messy moral issues over killing them and negates the need to come up with elaborate backstory as to why killing them is necessary.

This is good because Doom doesn’t do backstory, or even story, all that well. After some noise about a group of scientists and assorted people living below the surface of a dead planet, some of whom have gone missing, we get right to the part where Sarge (Johnson) and his unit of army men show up and start shooting at stuff. Eventually, we get to see some of the stuff they are shooting and learn that most of these alien creatures were, at one time, humans. How did they change? Why? What can be done to protect others?

Whatever, man, why are you asking questions? This is an action movie. An action movie based on a video game. Plot has no place here. 

Watching Doom gives you the same feeling of weary impatience that you get watching someone else play a video game. No matter how much better they are than you, watching someone else shoot and kill isn’t nearly as fun as shooting and killing yourself. Even the happy splat of alien guts hitting the floor of a sparsely decorated sound stage does not delight after the first few times. I was struck, watching this movie, by how much better a video game is than a movie like this. The graphics are just as good (if not superior), the story is usually more fleshed out, the goals give the game a sense of urgency and the spectator is actually a character, the main character usually. If this is the kind of movie Hollywood hopes will win it back the 14- to 30-year-old males, no wonder the movie industry is getting its butt kicked by the latest PlayStation releases.