If there are individuals capable of producing a monstrosity as abominable as “Doom,” then there is clearly no hope for the human race. Even labeling “Doom” as a film might cast an inject pestilence into the world of cinematic endeavors and the entirety of modern artistic creation. Polish director Andrzej Bartkowiak (“Romeo Must Die,” “Exit Wounds”) — whose dissonant name is as offensive to the ears as “Doom” is to all of the senses — has not only managed to make a movie utterly devoid of even the slightest hint of imagination, but has also shamed and insulted the global community of filmmakers.
But not much can really be expected from a movie that found creative inspiration in a perverse video game. Decent writing, acting or directing is wishful thinking, indeed. But the special effects — all latex mutants and diluted blood — aren’t even remotely good.
When U.S. marines from the year 2026 journey to Mars to battle murderous mutants, there is at least the potential for a few satisfying battle scenes. However, most of the action sequences are poorly choreographed and difficult to follow, as they are all shot in darkness. Bartkowiak and team rely, instead, on incessant and unrealistic gore to keep their audiences hooked (a feat at which they fail miserably): limbs are severed by elevator doors, men feast on diseased rats and slurp up the blood-soaked wiggling tails, crazed scientists do their best van Gogh impression by ripping off their own ears and manic animals rattle dank cages.
Thankfully, the film is punctuated by a sporadic cacophony of heavy metal to distract the unfortunate few who still occupied their seats.
Women in the audience are dubiously in luck, however, for the film stars Dwayne Johnson — the overly built, overly tanned and overly white-toothed wrestler-turned-action-movie-hero known as The Rock.
Johnson plays Sarge, the aptly named sergeant of the Rapid Response Tactical Squad of marines assigned to investigate a quarantined research facility on Mars. And while his performance is lackluster and devoid of his signature eyebrow-raising moves, in all fairness it must be admitted that he was not given much to work with.
Interestingly enough, The Rock is not the main character of “Doom” — a fact that does not become apparent to those unfamiliar with the iconic video game until the film is nearly over. Rather, the story clumsily brings John Grimm “Reaper” into its focus. Played by Karl Urban, who would have been better off sticking to small parts in “The Lord of the Rings,” the role sacrifices much of its face time for an inane first-person shoot perspective.
On Mars, Reaper meets up with his forensic archaeologist sister, Sam Grimm (Rosamund Pike, whose continual attempts to escape the research facility inspire escape the theater). In a desperate effort to humanize two-dimensional pixel-based characters, Bartkowiak gives the Grimm siblings the hackneyed back-story of being brother and sister estranged after the tragic death of their truth-seeking scientist parents. But this banal tale is unconvincing and fails to add any real depth to either character.
Bartkowiak also tries to imbue his, questionable, piece de resistance with religious overtones. In the middle of a covert operation, one of the marines absurdly uncovers a heavily scarred arm to inscribe yet another cross in his flesh after taking the Lord’s name in vain — religious self-flagellation has never been so comical. Similarly, the film tries to preach about DNA tampering, but it is impossible to take seriously a film in which characters have more believable dialogue with their firearms than with each other.
Despite these intermittent and listless attempts at giving “Doom” substance, in the end it offers only carnage. Most of the movie is devoted to Sarge and his team as they chase mutants that are unimaginatively a hybrid of James Cameron’s “Aliens” creations and the zombies of “28 Days Later.” And because this carnage is so unrealistic, “Doom” fails to entertain even those sorry moviegoers who seek nothing more than a blood-and-guts quick fix. The only population sector that might enjoy this fiasco of a production are those who are too busy playing “Doom 3” on their computers to actually make their way to the theaters.