R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Andrzej Bartkowiak
scr David Callaham, Wesley Strick
with Karl Urban, The Rock, Rosamund Pike, Dexter Fletcher, Ben Daniels, Deobia Oparei, Raz Adoti, Richard Brake, Al Weaver, Yao Chin, Brian Steele, Sara Houghton
release US 21.Oct.05, UK 2.Dec.05 05/US Universal 1h45

Actual dialog: "It's big, very big!" The Rock and Urban

urban rock pike

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Doom No surprise: noisy filmmaker Bartkowiak turns the videogame into a deafening movie. It does have certain entertainment value, although it's so busy trying to look steely and hip that it forgets to engage us on any other level.

It's 2046, two decades after the discovery of a portal between the Nevada desert and the planet Mars, where something has gone seriously wrong in a genetics lab. Sarge (Rock) is called in to help with his elite force of Marines, which includes the brooding secretive one (Urban), the religious tough guy (Daniels), the grunting brute (Oparei), the pretty boy (Adoti), the womaniser (Brake), the ethnic one (Chin) and the rookie (Weaver). And with the help of a techie (Fletcher) and brooding guy's scientist sister (Pike), they're up against something seriously monstrous.

We know not to take this seriously; when we meet Sarge he's gratuitously shirtless and tattooed. And the monosyllabic dialog is comical in its sublime inanity. There are also feeble attempts to layer in things like tortured pasts, children in peril and commentary on genetic engineering. But it's a meathead movie in which characters are known by names like Reaper, Goat, The Kid and, well, Sarge. The jingoistic dialog is loaded with hilariously bad wordplay. And the acting, direction and music all take the same dull-witted approach.

The two exceptions are Urban and Pike, who actually play their roles as if they're human beings. Which is remarkably with all the cacophonous carnage around them. The plot is almost exactly the same as Resident Evil, as our intrepid heroes search and destroy a relentless, insidious force. The suspense comes only from the unknown threat; once we see the beasts, it's all over.

So from here on out, it relies on gore and mayhem. And this is an especially grisly, brutal action romp (how it got a 15 certificate is anyone's guess). There's a very cool sequence near the end in which we follow Urban in a point-of-view perspective; it's not scary at all, but it looks exactly like the videogame. And then we're back in mindless action mode. Ho hum.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, gore 24.Oct.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall