Doomed from the beginning

MovieReview D+

October 21, 2005|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

If you're in a building, searching for somebody (or something), and it's dark, wouldn't it be a good idea to flood the area with light?

Doom, the latest failed Hollywood attempt to make a movie from a video game, ignores such questions, just as it ignores anything else that might have anything to do with thinking. Do the characters have to be so generic, so indistinguishable from one another? Do story, plot and coherence all have to be sacrificed in the name of anarchic, bullet-riddled mayhem?

The Rock, a charismatic action star for whom this movie represents an unfortunate step backward, is Sarge, leader of a group of tough-as-nails Marines sent to figure out what the heck is going on at a research facility on Mars. Suffice to say that when they get there, they find all sorts of things worth killing, as the film devolves into a cross between Aliens and Night of the Living Dead.

All the Marines are broadly drawn stereotypes, which the film acknowledges by not even giving most of them names, just nicknames. There's a scared kid, a religious zealot (who carves a cross in his arm every time he utters the Lord's name in vain), a crazed guy who turns chicken at the first sign of anger, a sex-obsessed grunt and a big, tall tough guy who you just know isn't going to die without a fight.

There's also a brother and sister, who represent the eternal battle of brain vs. brawn (guess which wins). Karl Urban is John Grimm (do I detect irony in the choice of name?), an emotionally scarred Marine who's nonetheless able to wreak serious havoc. And Rosamund Pike (who's much better than this film) is his sister, Samantha, a research scientist out to ensure that nothing important is destroyed. Good luck, lady.

Turns out there's some wild research going on here, crazy stuff dealing with genetic engineering and extra chromosomes and the transformation of men into supermen. But the folks behind Doom (and it took two screenwriters to craft this masterpiece) don't care about all that. They just want the bullets to start flying.

At least toward the end of the film, Doom abandons any pretense and embraces what it is, an overgrown video game. For about 10 minutes, the audience gets to be the joystick, with a shooter's-eye view of the research facility and all the bad critters waiting to get blown to bits therein.

Of course, all the beasts get mowed down; if nothing else, Doom possesses one finely honed trigger finger.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

Doom (Universal Pictures)

Starring The Rock, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike.

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.

Rated R.

Time 100 minutes.

Review D+

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