Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Ben Daniels, Razaaq Adoti, Dhobi Oparei, Richard Brake, Al Weaver, Dexter Fletcher, Yao Chin, Robert Russel, Daniel York, Ian Hughes, Sara Houghton, Blanka Jarosova, Vladislav Dyntera, Petr Hnetkovsky, Jaroslav Psenicka, Marek Motlicek, Brian Steele, Doug Jones
Written by: Dave Callaham, Wesley Strick
Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/gore and language.
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/20/2005

Doom (2005)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Doom' and Gloom

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Doom is part of the not-so-grand tradition of movies based on video games. The 1993 game takes place from the player's point of view and requires the player to run around inside a 3D maze, shooting aliens and mutants. Doom the movie doesn't expand on this idea much, and it's a deadly bore.

The Rock stars as "Sarge," the leader of a pack of tough Marines. They answer to codenames like Reaper (Karl Urban), Destroyer (DeObia Oparei), Duke (Razaaq Adoti), Portman (Richard Brake), The Kid (Al Weaver) and Mac (Yao Chin). "We're Marines, not poets," one character says by way of apology.

On the verge of shore leave, they get the call: they must travel to Mars via a "portal" (i.e. a digital blob) and battle some beasties. Writers Wesley Strick (Cape Fear) and David Callaham attempt to build a mystery as to where the beasties came from, but it's all pretty much routine.

Also, it turns out that Reaper was once a promising scientist; his sister Samantha (Rosamund Pike) currently works as an archeologist on Mars. He hasn't seen or spoken to her in ten years and their reunion is supposed to cause more dramatic sparks.

From there, we get the ...And Then There Were None runaround, in which our characters walk around dark corridors and get picked off one by one. Calling them "characters" is generous; they're more like cynical devices who sneer their expositional dialogue at one another.

At one point, however, Doom changes to a P.O.V. sequence that mimics the video game on the big screen. Though the effect is like watching someone else play, it's briefly quite captivating.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak was once the shakiest camera in town and loved nothing more than to butcher Jet Li's carefully choreographed fight scenes in Romeo Must Die (2000) and Cradle 2 the Grave (2003). Here he has learned to slow down; he turns in his shaky camera in exchange for darkness, predictable jump-scares, and soulless fighting.

But even The Rock is wasted. The wrestler-turned-actor (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson) may not be ready for Shakespeare, but his turns in The Scorpion King (2002), The Rundown (2003) and this year's Be Cool showed he has a surprising amount of charisma and a charming, self-effacing quality. At a loss, Bartkowiak casts him in Doom as the steely, callous villain, and The Rock responds by shutting down his humanity.

The rest of the film responds in kind.{subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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