Knee Deep in the Dull

Man, I’m disappointed. Even with the reviews, I was still holding out hope that they got it right with DOOM. But they did everything wrong. It ended up being neither good, nor so bad it’s good; it’s just there. Boring and completely uninspired.

The reviews I’ve read still miss the point; they warn how it’s based on a videogame, and so it’s supposed to be big dumb mindless action. But that could make you think, “Well damn, I’m in the mood for some big dumb mindless action, so I’m going to lower my expectations and check that sumbitch out!” The problem is that it’s got big and dumb, but no action. It’s not a good horror movie, or a good action movie, or a good videogame movie, but it thinks it’s all three.

And remember how I said that from the trailer, it looked like they didn’t make the mistake of treating it like they were making a horror movie? I was wrong. For most of the movie, they either don’t show the monster at all (see, because that’s suspenseful), or they have a showdown with one of the monsters just decimating a space marine. DOOM the game isn’t about suspense; it’s about shooting a ton of monsters and finding keys that lead to more monsters. At the beginning of the movie, they say that there are six scientists involved. Six. I was wondering if maybe the movie’s CPU wasn’t powerful enough to show more monsters.

The Rock let me down, is the worst part. He was going on interviews and such saying how the movie gets it, that DOOM is a balls-out action movie for fans of the game. And the only thing sadder than somebody who just doesn’t get it, is someone who doesn’t get it but thinks that he does. His dialog was bad, but it wasn’t interesting bad, just dumb bad. And he didn’t do anything to knock it over the top. Plus, I suspect his involvement is what turned the finale into a wrestling match instead of a shoot-out.

Oh yeah, that’s right — the DOOM movie, the movie about the world’s best-known first person shooter, ends with a wrestling match. He fires the BFG once, he misses, and then starts camping against the Lord of the Rings guy until he jumps out and it turns into the WWF.

They should’ve ditched the zombies, first. Sounds like sacrilege, but DOOM is sad proof that zombies don’t automatically make everything better. No aliens either; they should’ve kept it a portal to Hell. If they didn’t want to have all the cheesy high school goth kid pentagrams and flaming skulls and such, they could’ve just called it a portal to “some mysterious other dimension.”

They should’ve ditched the space marines. I know it’s hard thinking up new ideas, especially when so many other movies use a team of space marines. But DOOM isn’t about a team; it’s about being one guy against a ton of monsters. Keep Eomer and The Rock, lose the rest. Keep Eomer’s sister as Doctor Exposition if you want, but don’t waste time trying to make her a character. Either give her a gun and a callsign, or leave her alone until it’s time for her to explain something.

They get points for including the first-person sequence at all, but there was a lot wrong with that. It was their big showpiece and you could tell, but after the build-up, it was a huge disappointment. I’m not even that good at shooters, and I’ve had sequences in DOOM the game that were much more exciting than DOOM the movie. What’s in the movie is more like a cheesy carnival haunted house, done up in CGI.

The heartbreaking thing is they were so close to getting it right with that. They had a guy in a control center who was watching all the video feeds from the different marines. They should’ve had the movie frequently switch to POV from the marines, showing their decreasing health and ammo counts on-screen. Not only would it have been true to the game, it would’ve been a better horror-suspense movie. None of the marines in DOOM the movie were killed in interesting ways, but if they’d just switched to their POV and showed them walking down a dark creepy hallway with dwindling health, that would’ve added something original to the whole mix.

Maybe they’ll learn how to get it right by the time of Daikatana: The Motion Picture.