Doom (2005) is so bad, you have to love it

Wesley Short

DOOM is a 2005 sci-fi horror film based off of the successful video game franchise of the same name. The game was revolutionary in highlighting the first-person shooter genre. There really wasn’t much of a story to it, however. It was all run and gun, blood and gore fun. You killed demons, had fun, and got up from your seat occasionally to let the blood get back to your feet. However, the third game in the series, aptly titled DOOM 3, goes much deeper into the story, and takes more of a horror-shooter aesthetic. This game is what the movie is more so based on, which is why John Wells, the producer of the film, claimed “The film delivers what the game delivered: some very raw, hard, tough, uncompromising scares.” This is a ridiculous statement on so many levels, because the movie isn’t scary, the game wasn’t scary, and DOOM wasn’t even meant to be a horror game in the first place. The movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Karl Urban. It was written by David Callaham and Wesley Strick, and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. The film was a box office bomb, only making $54 million in the box office after a budget of $60 million went into the film. Executive producer John Wells actually stated in an interview that a sequel was possible if the film was a success at the box office. Luckily for us, that didn’t become a reality. I figured this would be a fun “horror” film to review, since it has such a high amount of predictability and ridiculous scenes with no grasp of logic or physics (we’ll get into that in a moment). Let’s dive into the movie based off of the highly successful video game franchise, and see if it lives up to its origin. After all, the Dwayne Johnson claimed that the movie stays “loyal” to the game. I’ll see about that.

The Plot

We begin the film with a Star Wars-esque exposition of the setting. It claims that in 2046, a group of researchers and scientists discovered a portal to Mars, calling it the “Ark”. On Mars, the corporation known as the UAC has set up a large research station there, and it is immediately followed by a scene of scientists running away from something. The music for this movie altogether is terrible, and the music for this scene sounds like a bad Arctic Monkeys cover. A scientists makes it into a sort of safe room, leaving one scientist to have her arm crushed in a door with a generic squish sound. The doctor who made it, Dr. Carmack, sends a distress signal, followed by the unseen monster breaking through the metal doors.

We then cut to a scene of a group of Marines doing what marines do, I suppose. They’re playing on oversized handheld devices, taking a baseball bat to oranges and mocking each other about random things. You can’t have a better way of character development, if you want to call it that. You can quickly tell that the movie is going for a cliché military movie aesthetic. It introduces us to our characters, who are so forgettable that I’m just going to name them as I see them. The Rock, Pervy Hick, Token Black Guys 1 and 2, Asian Dude, The Rookie, Super Religious Guy, and our main character, Grimm. Grimm’s nickname in the movie is “Reaper”. Get it? Because his last name is Grimm.

The film reveals that the Rock and his squad must travel to Mars through the Ark in order to find out what has happened to the group of scientists we saw earlier. They travel to the Ark by airship. They grab their weapons, and the guns say their name as they grab them, almost as though they are verified to have that weapon. This is kind of cool, I suppose… but why is that necessary? If someone else grabbed the weapon, would that person not be able to use it? And this had to have been a standard piece of Marine technology, because who would go through the work to build this AI that can detect the person’s presence when they grab the weapon? I’m reading too much into this, it’s stupid, anyway. Grimm then talks silently to the Rock, and reveals he has a bad past with the station at Mars. Grimm says to the Rock, “I guess you gotta face your demons sometime.” Wow, that was subtle.

Later, the squad travels through the ark, which looks like a bad CGI lava lamp, and they arrive at Mars. They are met by Pinky, who I suppose is the director of the facility, and controls the Ark. He gives them a map of the facility, pointing out key areas to check for hostile activity. The squad activates their “killcams”, which are cameras attached to their guns. This doesn’t seem very efficient. What if the squad had their guns pointed at the floor or to the side? What if the person dropped their gun somewhere and couldn’t get it back? Just give each person a body camera! That would be so much more efficient.

After checking this worthless technology, they then begin to travel around the lab, being led by Samantha, a scientist at the lab who happens to be Grimm’s sister. They check the rooms until they find Dr. Carmack, who has become mentally insane. He rips his own ear off. This is important for later in the film, just keep it in mind. They take him to the clinic, and desperately try to keep him alive. He says to Samantha that she must “shut it down”, before becoming unconscious.

During some more searching, Pervy Hick gives Rookie some drugs to make him chill out, and the super religious guy says the Lord’s name in vain and cuts across in his arm. How are any of these crazy morons able to be on a Marine squad? Grimm is an edgy loner with a past, Pervy Hick sexually harasses women and has drugs, this religious dude has 20 crosses cut in his arm, the Rock is the Rock… this whole team is full of nutjobs. While patrolling, Grimm and Token Black Guy 2 find a zombie, and when they shoot him, he flies back about 30 feet, and it’s pretty hilarious.

The scientist lady, Sam, discovers something in the blood of Dr. Carmack. It looks like a bunch of rice in his blood. Wouldn’t his circulation just stop altogether, and he’d be dead as a doornail? I’m no doctor, but I don’t think blood travels with Uncle Ben’s stuck in it.

Eventually the team heads down to the sewers of the facility. As they are travelling, Pervy Hick falls into the water, but nothing grabbed him. He just fell into a hole in the floor. The Rock tells everyone to watch their footing… but you can’t even see through the water. It’s solid green. Even if you shine your flashlight on it, you can’t see through it. As they patrol, the Super Religious Guy is mumbling some random verses from the Bible about the Devil being their adversary and such. Does the team ever get tired of this? Does he do this every time he’s on patrol?

Grimm and the Rookie are patrolling, and the Rookie is acting weird because he popped some pills earlier. Grimm looks at his eyes, and notices that they’re dilated. They’re in a dark sewer, so his eyes are going to be dilated to adjust to the dark anyway, so how could this be an accurate conclusion?

The film cuts to Super Religious Guy, and he suspects something ahead of him in the dark. He asks Pinky if he can see anything through his killcam, meanwhile his gun is pointed toward the ground. Of course Pinky can’t see anything when the gun is aimed down, so this shows how dumb this idea of a killcam is. Super Religious guy gets attacked by a monster, and a leech-like monster attaches itself to his neck, and he is infected. The team brings him to the lab where Science lady is, and this leads me to the dumbest piece of dialogue I’ve ever seen in a film:

Science lady: “What happened?!”

Pervy Hick: “He was talking about Devils.”

He doesn’t mention that he has the wound the size of a softball on the side of his neck, or that he was obviously attacked and is severely bleeding.

So later on, a monster gets trapped in this “nanowall”, which is simply a wall that can solidify at the press of a button, but can be walked through in its usual state. It solidifies, and the monster is trapped in it. Is this technology really necessary? It all just seems unnecessary, from the killcams to the guns calling out the marines’ names… now a nanowall instead of just a normal wall.

We then cut to more of the marines patrolling, and Grimm looks out a window and remembers his past. His parents apparently had a terrible accident at this facility, and that’s why it is slightly haunting for him to return. The Rock walks behind him, and apparently he reads Grimm’s mind. He immediately asks, “Is this where it happened?”. How did he know that Grimm was reminiscing his childhood the second he saw him?

Cut back to the science lab, and the Super Religious Guy turns into a zombie, and hits his head repeatedly against a window to kill himself in the most hilarious way possible. What makes this more hilarious is the reaction from the science lady. I took it upon myself to get a picture of her “shocked face”. This describes her acting in one photo.

Later, the Hick has to use the restroom, so he goes there. During this, the Rock is seen grabbing the BFG, which stands for “Bio-Force Gun”, but it also stand for something much cooler that I can’t say in this article. The film cuts back to the Pervy Hick. He ends up sending a call for reinforcements while on the toilet. He decides to reload his weapon, being his clip is out of bullets. He drops his magazine for no reason, and it slides roughly fifteen feet across the floor to another stall. Instead of just getting out of the stall and walking to the other, he crawls under all the stalls to get to it. After he clips it into his gun, a monster grabs him and kills him. The Rock and the gang arrives not-so-just-in-time, and uses the BFG against it. The animation looks like garbage with a neon blue. It explodes near the monster, but doesn’t actually kill it. So unsatisfying for any viewer, and especially fans of the game. For those who don’t know, the BFG is the ultimate powerhouse weapon. It can kill fifty monsters with one shot in the game. But not here. It just splats on the wall and misses its target. It’s less effective than a rocket launcher. How can the filmmakers portray the BFG as so pathetic? It’s the BFG!

Cut back to the lab, and the science lady comes to a realization as the Rock arrives. She finds out that the monster she trapped in the wall is actually Dr. Carmack. She finds this out because the monster has its ear torn off. This would be fine if there wasn’t a major plot hole in it. Earlier in the film, we find out from Scientist Lady that the mutation that infects these people is supposed to be able to regenerate body parts at a rapid rate. This means that the ear would’ve just grown back, right? I guess the mutation does not apply to ears.

At this point, four squad members have been killed. The Rock is, needless to say, mad and crazy. He thinks Scientist Lady is hiding something, and she is. She has been downloading data files to small discs to bring them back to UAC. These discs show footage of experiments that demonstrate how the mutation came to be. The Rock and Grimm then dispute whether to destroy it or keep it. Strangely enough, the Rock wants to keep it and bring it back to UAC. His character goes from “I hate UAC, they got my men killed..” to “We’ve gotta help UAC by getting this data back.” He orders what’s left of the team to kill everyone who may be infected, and make it a priority to get the data back to UAC. They travel back to the UAC labs through the Ark, and The Rock kills the Rookie for not following an order to kill innocent people who were holed up in a storage room. After this, Pinky is killed by a monster, pulling the cliché “There’s something behind me, isn’t there?” line. They end up fighting a bunch of zombies and monsters in the facility, and the Rock and Token Black Guy 1 end up succumbing to the monsters. Grimm and Scientist lady run from the horde after he takes a bullet to the leg.

Scientist Lady and Grimm are locked up in a room, and she injects Grimm with a dose of the mutation. He turns into a super soldier, and we get a fairly nice scene, shot in the first person, of Grimm running through the facility and taking down targets. It looks odd, of course, as many first person scenes do, but this one in particular just looks like a bad haunted house at a high school.

The Rock has been turned by the monsters, and he and Grimm engage in the cheesiest fight sequence I’ve seen on film. The characters are clearly hooked to wires, and they’re floating like Charlie and his grandfather after drinking the soda in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Grimm eventually wins, of course, and he and Scientist Lady escape the facility, ending the film with a flash of white light.

The Acting:

            This film has terrible acting on all sides. This goes especially for Samantha, the Scientist Lady, who shows no emotion, and her face looks very off when trying to show fear. I can’t say I expected much better from any of these actors, since their characters are about as stale as a potato chip under my fridge. Not even Dwayne Johnson did well in this film, but they still milked him like a cow, portraying him as though he is the main character. This should’ve at least been given to Karl Urban, since he was the main character, after all.

Writing and Dialogue:

The writing in this film makes me wonder what the people were thinking when writing it. They didn’t pay much of an homage to DOOM whatsoever, there is no sense of logic or loyalty to the main plot points in the film, and ultimately, it’s cliché and boring. The dialogue is horrendously awkward, the characters are all just generic representations of characters we’ve seen several times before, and can’t demonstrate any serious emotion. Might I also mention that this film is not scary in any way, shape or form. Even the jump scares aren’t good at all. As the viewer, you expect everything that’s going to happen.

Editing and Cinematography:

The camera work is somewhat basic; nothing really seems to stick out in this film that I can point out as different or interesting, except for maybe the first person sequence towards the end of the film. It’s not what I would call good, but it is different, nonetheless. I think the constant switching between characters was very rushed, and it lets the viewer forget what is happening among the squad. I wouldn’t doubt I forgot and missed out on some important parts or notable points in the movie because of this (the forgettable characters don’t help much, either).

Final Thoughts:

I would definitely suggest this to a group of friends looking for a movie to laugh at. I would not recommend this to someone who plans on watching it alone, however. Nor would I recommend this to fans of the DOOM game franchise. Video game movies have a trend of being absolutely terrible, but this game is a spit in the face to the many loyal fans of the game. It ignores so many things that made the game what it is today, and just constantly made pointless references to the game without actually utilizing them to make the film better. My friend, who happens to be a major DOOM fan, had this to say about the movie: “It sucks.”