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Doom (2005)

Someone direct me to the nearest Mars bar. — Written by OhLookBirdies on 06.03.2010

I have never been much for playing video games. Sure, I've played a few. I've played the occasional game of Quake at LAN parties hosted by people geekier than me, I've played Need for Speed against people more into cars than me, and I've played Pong with people older than me. However, there has been one video game I have played almost religiously, a game I love as much now as I did 10 years ago. That game is Bubble Bobble, and hasn't got anything to do with this review whatsoever. But go play it anyway. It has gameplay that is simple yet challenging, awesome music, and a moral that doesn't feel like holier-than-thou people telling you off.

Having said all that, Doom is undoubtedly a good runner-up in my personal list of Games I Enjoyed. For one, it's genuinely scary. The monsters may look like blocky lumps, and the '3D' might be 2½D, but it all works. If you play it by yourself, at midnight, in the dark, and wearing headphones, I promise you'll be jumping at the slightest sound for the rest of the night. This is something the recent Doom 3 lacks, as sadly, the better graphics don't enhance the jump factor, but replace it.

Another reason I really loved Doom is the simple gameplay. Pick up weapons, shoot monsters, pick up keys, open doors, shoot more monsters. Even I can grasp that.

So all in all, there is a good reason Doom is considered by many to be the king of the First Person Shooters. And that is why, when I heard a film of it was being made, I was one part happy, one part apprehensive, and three parts certain they'd fuck it up. (At this point, the audience of this review heaves a collective sigh and says "Oh good, the fucker's finally getting to the point. Who gives a toss about some stupid game?" Sadly for them, I plan to refer to the game on several more occasions in the near future.) Unfortunetaly, it turned out the three-fifths majority was right. They fucked it up. I have tried to watch this film from two points of view, one being an avid Doom fan, and the other being an unprejudiced action flick fan. Neither of them ended up being very satisfied. The unprejudiced one did end up slightly more satisfied than the Doom fan, but not by far.

For starters, the main thing that makes Doom a) interesting and b) scary as fuck is the fact you're all alone in a hell-infested army base. A whole platoon of marines with big guns and radios just doesn't have the same "Oh fuck, I'm toast" vibe to it. Then, there's the fact the entire squad seems to consist of sociopaths, psychopaths, and just your basic weirdoes. Apparently, in the future there is an even less strict control routine to determine if someone is fit to be handed several heavy pieces of weaponry and a license to kill. If one were a pacifist, one might argue that for all we know, these men were all cheery-happy and normal when they joined up, and the Horrors of War have warped their minds. This is a theory that would hold more water if The Kid, whose first mission this is, wasn't a drug-addicted whackjob as well.

Then, as I was watching, I found myself increasingly disappointed at the hellspawn. Where were my zombies, imps, flying fiery skulls, massive armless (but not 'armless) demons, massive armless invisible demons, and cyber-devils? All we get here is something that conjures up visions of Resident Evil's Nemesis. A comparison that is not far besides the truth, as is soon apparent. As it turns out, these aren't demons. These are infected people, bitten by an experiment to turn people into Übermensches by adding a 24th chromosome. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe we already have a condition where people have an extra chromosome, and we call it "Down's Syndrome". Call me skeptic, but I doubt that adding that one single pair of chromosomes would make people super strong, inhumanly fast, heal like Wolverine (The X-man, not the small furry critter), and at the same time turn some people, whose DNA is slightly different, into super strong, inhumanly fast, healing-like-Wolverine crosses between a zombie and a compost heap.

So yeah, not only did the director get confused halfway through and start work on "Resident Evil in space" rather than Doom, he also throws in a bunch of personality deficiencies out of nowhere. The Kid turns out to be a drug addict, Goat turns out to be a self-mutilating religious freak, and Sarge turns out to be a homicidal maniac. None of this was even remotely apparent at the start of the film, so you just sit there going "What the fuck?"

It is possible to make a good film based on a video game. It is rare, but they are out there. The Resident Evil trilogy isn't half bad, Silent Hill was pretty good, Hitman was solid entertainment, and the upcoming Prince of Persia film looks like it might not actually be terrible. However, Doom is not one of these. It was, if you'll excuse the pun, doomed from the get-to.

Oh, and that Big Fucking Gun was nowhere near as cool as the one in the game.

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