Doom: Unrated Extended Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (15th April 2009).
The Film

Let's face it, video game movies have gotten a bad rap of late, generally fraught with bad scripting, filled with even worse performances and running at the seams with endlessly cheesy CGI sequence after the next, Uwe Boll and Paul W.S. Anderson certainly haven't helped the matter either. So as you could imagine I had a few reservations before I put "Doom" into my player. Plus I haven't really thought much of director Andrzej Bartkowiak's previous efforts so it had two notches against it before I even saw the film. But the promise of an "Unrated Extended Movie Too Intense for Theaters" tempted me a little (damn marketing gimmicks!). However no matter how "intense" it didn't change the fact that just like "Resident Evil" (2002) before it, it wasn't a great movie, but it was far from the worst.

"Doom" is a fairly straight-forward shoot-em up popcorn movie, it has no brain (even though it tries a few times to disprove that, and fails). If you aren't expecting much you'll likely enjoy this sci-fi action opus, however if you take it seriously then you'll sadly be very disappointed. I'm not sure what avid fans of the game would really think of this; I suppose there must be a few on the fence. It translates many elements from the game which would likely put a smile on some people's faces, however big guns and The Rock couldn't escape the lame script that, as we covered in a previous review of "House on Haunted Hill" (1959) falls into the trap that a lot of b-grade haunted house films from back in the day fell into - a lot of people walking down hallways (although futuristic looking hallways) talking about stuff that isn't really interesting, it's plot filler that propels a thin narrative which provides a reason for the characters actually being there on Mars doing what they are doing.

A distress call is sent from an archeological expedition on Mars, in response a Rapid Response Tactical Squad (RRTS) unit of space Marines is sent to neutralize the problem. Led by Sarge (The Rock) and John Grimm (Karl Urban), by the way I'm not exactly sure who really was the squad commander, although Sarge gave the orders, John ignored a few and never got flack for it, so I assume he's a higher rank, it's that or Sarge has an obvious character weakness. Anyway, during their mission they discover that something has happened to the scientists, which causes them to turn into ferocious monsters that rampage, the big guns come out and carnage ensues. But at a steadily meandering pace, which at times gets a bit boring, however once the action kicks in we're in for some gore-filled moments of high adrenaline.

I was rather pleased the filmmakers didn't take a "PG-13" approach to this film and went loose on the violence, if only there was more of it. This film is called "Doom" after all, speaking of which, although there was a good helping of violence I never really felt that these characters were "doomed", they had the capabilities of killing these creatures but several of the Marines went the way of the dinosaur, this basically made the monsters appear just a little bit more dangerous, but a few well aimed shots into its upper torso or head usually does the trick. For a trained Marine that shouldn't be too difficult.

The film's creatures are also realistic looking freaks, something that also came as a pleasant surprise, there was hardly a CG creature in sight (although the first person shooter sequence did have some CGI elements), and further investigation shows that the filmmakers chose to create these monsters the old school way, with make-up effects and animatronics. Nice, indeed for once a video game adaptation that didn't look fake, am I dreaming? Enhancing these monsters and the futuristic backdrops is the film's slick photography. Which, comes as no surprise, considering the director was once a cinematographer therefore his vision would not be too difficult to communicate?

The characters in the film are formulaic and cliche at best, it would have been nice to see what experienced character actors would have brought to this film, however I realize how absurd that statement is, how many high brow actors would sign onto a video game movie? (Ben Kingsley in "Bloodrayne" (2005) is an exception, maybe he needed the money?).

Back to the script itself, as for a storyline it's fairly simple, however the screenwriters try to be intelligent by throwing in some scientific mumbo jumbo, the problem is if you teach a dog how to read that would be amazing, however it still doesn't detract from the fact that it's still a dog. I also felt that near end of the film, the character or Sarge suddenly turns into an asshole and has to fight with John Grimm, where did this come from? Throughout the film there was no real indication that this guy was a jerk, no character traits that came out and made me say "hey you know what? This guy could be a real jerk", this sudden turn didn't feel right and appeared as though the filmmakers ran out of ideas and required some kind of challenge/crisis for Grimm to overcome. Perhaps that, and a need to write in a hand-to-hand combat scene, which is a requirement for any action film. This turned out to be far too contrived and by that point in the film why were they even focusing on this? There are far more interesting scenarios they could have explored, how about an all out melee for survival amongst a horde of freakish kick ass monsters? Just when they think they've killed them all, they encounter a new level of nightmarish proportions. Now that's something I would have liked to see at the end.

Despite these obvious and sometimes annoying flaws the film was actually enjoyable to watch, I especially found the first person shooter sequence, to be by far the best part of the movie. There's just something so satisfying about that whole scene, especially since they got the movements down to a tee, I thought it would look clunky but there was a fluidity that was straight out of the game. The film also has a sense of humor, although a few moments were funny for unintentional reasons, there were a few lines of dialogue in the film that put a smile on my face and reminded me what kind of movie I was watching.

The most important thing to remember is that if you are planning on watching this film or perhaps even purchasing a copy, don't expect Fellini, sit back and enjoy some good 'ol fashion carnage, oh yeah did I also mention the big f**king guns! Yeah there's plenty of that and Rosamund Pike is also pretty cute.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 the image is mastered onto Blu-ray in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and has been created using VC-1 compression. This transfer was created using the same source as the previous DVD edition, so the image is pretty similar, with the obvious exception of being in HD. The image is perfectly sharp and exhibits a fine amount of detail, texture and depth. I found that the colors are well rendered, skin tones are natural, and the black levels are deep. There is some noise amid the blacks and although the image looks good I found that it was too dark at times which limits depth and detail during those scenes. There were no compression problems, no edge-enhancement, it's a solid transfer that's a little too dark at times.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as DTS 5.1 tracks in French or Spanish. The sound mix is were the film really comes to life, with an engrossing and immersive sound mix that's entirely aggressive. The dialogue was very clean and had no distortion, but it's the action scenes where this audio shines, the explosions are robust and impacting, realistic bullet sounds add to the impact of the mix and ambient activity makes great use of the surround channels. The track displays a terrific amount of depth and should put your sound system through a decent workout.
Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Universal have ported over the extras from the DVD edition, this includes a collection of six featurettes and some BD-Live features. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up we have the "Basic Training" featurette, running at 10 minutes 33 seconds, this clip takes us through the intense training process the cast underwent in order to appear as realistic Marines on-screen. The process is a two week long training camp that teaches the actors about weapons training, patrolling and maneuvers, weapons proficiency and getting combat ready. The military advisor and the cast takes us through the grueling challenge.

Next we have the "Rock Formation" featurette that runs for 5 minutes 38 seconds, in this clip we are shown the make-up used to transform The Rock into a monster. The four hour make-up application process in broken down into various steps, the overall application uses prosthetics to give him a more monstrous look.

Following that is the "Master Monster Makers" featurette that runs for 10 minutes 55 seconds. In this clip we learn about the efforts of the crew from The Stan Winston Studio and how they created all the cool monsters for the film. The filmmakers chose to utilize the old school method of building body suits and using animatronics to control facial expressions. Some CGI was used as well to enhance certain shots and is generally used when doing the gag practically becomes impossible. We also get a look at the creation of the human and monster corpses, and the level of detail that is put into it.

Up next you'll find the "First Person Shooter Sequence" featurette that runs for 5 minutes 57 seconds. It is here were we get a look at the making of this memorable scene from the film. A special unit was created to shoot this sequence that took a total of 14 days, the trick was to make it seem like one seamless continuous shot that let on that it was shot in stages over two weeks. Other challenges also had to be overcome in order to pull this off, one of which was adapting this for the widescreen ratio (the gun when holstered takes up almost the entire screen image). Some aspects regarding the visual effects are also covered.

"DOOM Nation" is the next featurette and runs for 14 minutes 40 seconds. Here we get some comments from game industry people about the popularity of the game and how it was the frontrunner in popularizing first person shooter games. We take a look at the game's history and evolution from the first game to "Doom II" and then "Doom III".

"Game On!" is a featurette that runs for 6 minutes 47 seconds, this clip is a beginners guide to staying alive while playing "Doom III", the clip features highlights from game and features a narrator who provides hints and tips on what to look out for.

The disc also features some "MyScenes" which allow you to bookmark your favorite scenes.

Rounding out the extras on this disc are some BD-Live features for profile 2.0 players and include:

- "MyScenes" sharing, which allows you to share your favorite scenes with others online.
- You can download content and trailers from the Universal portal as well.

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: B+ Audio: A+ Extras: B- Overall: B-

 


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