Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Writers: Dave Callaham, Wesley Strick
Stars: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike
Release Date: October 21, 2005
A mind-numbing movie is a beautiful thing. Whether or not the people making such a movie know what their final product will become, these films are the calming chicken noodle soup for my soul. Last week I was in the mood for such a stupid watch; something that’d allow me to relax while working and writing.
When Doom (2005) was put on Netflix, it was immediately put on my queue. There were very few things I remember about the movie from when I first saw it in middle school/high school, but one thing was for sure. Doom was one of the first-time movie viewing experiences where I learned that a movie can be objectively terrible, but still relentlessly entertaining. Who would have thought an ultimately forgettable bad video game action movie would teach me a lesson on a movie appreciation subjectivity?
Doom centers around a group of space marines set to investigate a series of strange events at a remote research facility on Mars. Things get really messy when the group of soldiers are introduced to a seemingly endless amount of genetically enhanced killing beings.
The leader of space marines is Sarge, played by Dwayne Johnson. The most recognizable face of the bunch, this was still in the beginning of The Rock’s acting career. He had not yet harnessed his machismo, and the lines of dialogue he was fed only added to the cringe. Other notable actors join Johnson on the screen, including early career Rosamund Pike and the truly magnificent sounding Karl Urban as brother and sister, Grimm.
Luckily, Doom is not standing on its acting in order to be entertaining. The entertainment value for the audience is in its violence, and that there is a plenty of. After a brief time setting the stage and laying out the flimsy parameters for the space marines to be on the space station, we are introduced to the infected. Instead of a cordial handshake, the greeting is in snarls and bullets.
One-by-one the space marines begin to die at the hands of the mutating death creators. Almost every soldier is given a solo moment against their enemies, but the only mano-et-mano battle worth talking about and it is the final showdown between Sarge and John Grimm.
This is where I should give some credit to Doom. The movie’s writers Dave Callaham (original story creator) and Wesley Strick flip the script and make The Rock the bad guy. Over the course of the movie we see Sarge get more and more demonstrative and violent, and eventually his alpha aura really bites him in the neck. Sarge becomes infected by one of the mutating monstrosities, and it is up to Grimm to try and kill the final boss and make sure this evil can’t get to earth.
This entire last battle is an exercise in bad stunt work and really bad stunt-wiring. So many punches and kicks send the characters careening to all the various ravines of the expansive classic “last level of a video game giant lobby” setting. We have the classic “screw the guns, let’s do this like men” standoff, as well as the one-liners every action movie watcher craves for. The final moments of Doom perfectly encapsulate what makes this movie bad but also hilariously enjoyable.
Okay, now we have the end, the credits are approaching and rolling. Just when you think the boring words are going to come up…we have the most inventive part of Doom. Seeing how this movie is based off an old 1993 first person shooter video, director Andrzej Bartkowiak took the creative decision to put the audience in the shoes of John Grimm. The camera acts as his eyes as it’s a direct POV shot of Grimm slaying bad guys and avoiding certain doom. On a personal note, I remember the first time I saw this movie, this entire sequence blew my mind. Didn’t know it was possible or ever a thing.
Doom is not a good movie. There really no debating that it is. The acting is bad because the script is worse. The story is there…but interesting is a generous term. The special effects are probably adequate for its time, but the climactic moments that rely on the special effects highlight its negative reliance.
STANKO RATING: D (1.5/5 Stars)
Initial Rating: C+ (2.5/5 Stars)