Sunday, October 16, 2005

Review of "Doom," rated R for being based on a video game and for having The Rock in it.

Not since Pong has a video game cried out for a movie version the way "Doom" does. One time, my brother (a grown up at the time, by the way) got onto a "Doom"-playing jag and couldn't tear himself away from the screen for a couple days straight. He nearly lost a job and a girlfriend over it, and as lucky, in retrospect, as that would have been, he eventually had to get some sleep. Still, two and a half straight days is a lot of zombie killin', if you know what I mean.

And if you do know what I mean, then you pretty much know what happens in this movie. The Rock plays a war hero from the wrong side of the tracks in the world-gone-bad future in which "Doom" is set. (By the way, why does the future always look like Detroit in 1984?) He's the country or galaxy's most decorated war veteran of all-time, but he gets involved in running guns or drugs or bootlegging Britney Spears CDs after leaving the service, and gets busted.

He is condemned to a futuristic and yet decrepit prison. The door locks and medical tools are fancy and high tech, but everything else is rusty, moldy and broken. Even the sink in The Rock's cell leaks, and boy, does that bug him. It'll bug you too, because the expression that The Rock's acting teacher showed him to express repressed rage makes him look even dimmer than usual.

Anyway, a couple days later, Nick Nolte comes into the prison and demands to see The Rock. It seems the country, planet or galaxy is in danger because a bunch of lumbering, fleshy-headed monsters have taken over what appears to be either a dungeon or some kind of elaborate S&M club on a faraway planet. For some reason, this particular S&M club is strategically critical and must be cleared of all zombie-life. In fact, Nolte tells The Rock he can just go ahead and kill whatever's in there, zombie or otherwise, on the house.

The Rock considers this offer briefly and then squints at Nolte across the low-tech prison table and asks, "What's the catch?" The funniest part about this moment is that Nolte hasn't yet told him he'll be pardoned if he goes on the mission.

Eventually, The Rock's character bargains Nolte down from "full pardon" to "fix that damn sink." Nolte agrees, assuming that since The Rock won't survive the Zombie S&M dungeon, he'll never have to fix the sink anyway. Then he buys The Rock a Zagnut bar and tells him it's his gosh-darned dinner. The Rock thanks him and starts to return to his cell before Nolte reminds him of their deal.

Anyway, The Rock also has worked it out so that he can pick his own team for the mission, and interestingly, they're all in jail, they're all from different target audiences (I mean, ethnic groups) and have remarkably narrow zombie-fighting specialties: the black guy only uses exotic knives; a Japanese guy uses karate and Japanese movie magic; the big dunder-headed farm boy is good at taking a beating so the rest of the group can get away; and then, there's a sophisticated-looking blonde who, being a hot white woman in a movie of this kind, is under no obligation to do anything useful at all.

When they reach the S&M zombie dungeon, The Rock motivates the group with some comments that are intended to be cold-blooded gallow's humor but end up sounding instead like he's reading the English-language script of a Japanese beer commercial. Personally, I wondered for a minute if I had misheard it, because although each word makes sense individually, I didn't recognize a meaningful pattern in the English language. "We're the star for our fight," just doesn't cut it as a catch phrase (or as any kind of phrase at all), but The Rock keeps saying it throughout the movie like we're supposed to know what he's talking about. It's embarassing. With lame action-hero repartee like that, he's clearly not qualified to be Governor.

A couple hours later, they're still on the first level, having all been killed and inexplicably regenerated 10 or 12 times. It's tough to stop watching because the boss of the first level is right around the corner from that apparently pointless red glowing vent in the floor. As soon as The Rock can get that chain gun from a couple scenes back, he'll be able to take out the one Mancubus standing between our heroes and the first boss, and you just know he's going to do it next time.

With "Doom"'s running time of more than 50 hours, I strongly recommend you stop to shower, sleep, talk to your spouse or significant other, and eat something other than microwave pizza.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being as-bad-as-Ishtar and 10 being as-good-as-The-Godfather, I give this movie an it's-based-on-a-videogame.


Blogger Askinstoo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Deborah Graff said...

You're the star for this review, a fight worth living for! Thanks Jim!

9:58 PM  
Blogger STEVEO said...

Loved your review, I agree with your take on DOOM and I will skip it.

7:19 PM  

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