[box cover]

Doom: Unrated Extended Edition

The end credits of Doom (2005) pay tribute (in a hilariously wrongheaded way) to the first-person-shooter video game that inspired the movie: We fly down computer-generated hallways, encountering the floating names of the cast and crew, and then — take that, Costume Designer Carlo Poggioli! — a machine gun in the lower corner of the frame blasts the letters into oblivion. That's right: Names and careers are literally shot for participating in this movie. Not that we should be opposed to making movies from video games — even though, beyond a few of the better scenes in the first Resident Evil, the field tends to be thinner than Keira Knightley's upper thighs. But hey — if you're shooting for high concepts, you could do a lot worse than the basic, bloody premise of most of Id Software's "Doom" franchise: After some sort of pan-dimensional industrial accident at a research station on Mars, space Marines take on demons from Hell. It's simple. It's bloodthirsty. It could work. Unfortunately, in "beefing up" this premise for the movies, director Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) and screenwriters David Callaham and Wesley Strick rarely miss an opportunity to do something dreary or dumb. For starters, the very punchy "demons from Hell" have been replaced with "mutants with an extra injected chromosome that came from proto-humanoids who dabbled in teleportation and gene therapy millions of years ago," or something. Our brother-sister heroes are played by a New Zealander (Karl Urban) and a Brit (Rosamund Pike) affecting American accents that sound like drunken slurs. The dialogue never gets more interesting than barked sound-bites like "You hesitate? People die!" The action's cluttered. The monsters are rubbery. The gore is sparse. The look's repetitive. (Seemingly every other shot in this movie is a Marine swiveling a flashlight-mounted gun in the dark.) Horrible slaughter is backed by jaunty electric-guitar riffs. And, worst of all, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson — who by now has a couple of very credible action performances under his belt — takes a huge creative step backward as the Marines' jaw-flexing, pop-eyed sergeant. Beyond a couple of cool guns, a nifty-looking "nano wall," and one long, gory, clever-ish first-person shot (which is, let's face it, little more than a glorified game demo), Doom is something the video games have never been: It's dull. Universal's "Unrated Extended Edition" DVD release extends the film's running time from 100 to 113 minutes with a strong anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (in English, French, and Spanish). Extras include the featurettes "Basic Training" (10 min.), "Rock Formation" (5 min.), "Master Monster Makers" (10 min.), "First Person Shooter Sequence" (6 min.), "Doom Nation" (14 min.), and "Game On!" (6 min.) Also on board is a "Doom 3" XBox demo. Keep-case.
Mike Russell



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