Even the simplicity of a classic video game with a one-sentence storyline is not safe from the claws of Hollywood. Should nostalgically mired fans of the Doom video game find themselves with the choice to watch this inarticulate nonsense starring Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban, they should steer well clear. With no hope of adapting such a simplistic storyline to a feature-length product, Doom, directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, turns into something far removed from the fast-paced pleasure of its source material. Neither hoping to convey a unique or interesting tale that adds depth to the John Romero classic, nor looking to faithfully adapt this work to the big screen, Doom is a questionable work.
Move aside the varyingly poor performances from soon-to-be great actors, and focus in on the varying lack of detail. Clearly seeing the hype surrounding the Resident Evil series, Bartkowiak decides to have a crack at another ancient series that, for one reason or another, still had a bit of life in it around the time of release. Yes, nostalgia only gets you so far, but with Doom the crutch of this rose-tinted spectacle replaces a leg of quality. Relying so often on the throwbacks to the 90s videogame, Doom also pleads with Johnson, Urban and Rosamund Pike for some semblance of quality. Their cries for help fall on deaf ears, clearly.
What brittle quality there is to be found is in the form of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it screen role for Doug Jones, who, for a portion of time, is not layered in thick coats of special effects. He does perform the task well when it comes to those twisted Martian monsters, but it is rare we see his actual face, and not some morphed horror from the vast depths of space. That isn’t even an engaging moment, it is merely a distraction, to see a man behind some of the most intelligent monster designs actually appear without makeup. Thrilling stuff. Alongside him is the usual can-can of dated CGI, most of which is used on one note references to guns from the game. That is all they can reference, for Doom is not known for its witty dialogue or layered storytelling. Nor is this film, at least it adapts that empty shell well.
A case study for the theory that recognisable cast members do not make for an inkling of quality, Doom’s worst crime is how boring it is. Settling into the comfortable horrors of its timeframe, the grey colour palette and lack of interest is as stark and prominent. Paired with such an achingly bland lack of variety, and Doom becomes a doomed venture into adapting the gun-toting action of a strong series of shooters. One to be cast aside into the dark abyss, to forget the menial and often forgettable writing and acting would be a hope worth holding out for. Generally useless and a really odd approach to filmmaking, in that there is much freedom to be had with a very straight shot concept, yet even this freedom is not enough for Bartkowiak and his cast, who turn in a miserable, boring waste of time.