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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Doom (Blu-ray)
Doom (Blu-ray)
Universal // Unrated // February 10, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 14, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
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of those Sci-Fi Original Movie screenplays off the shelf, only lose Bruce Campbell and shell out for a $70 million price tag. Oh, or you could take Aliens or Predator, chuck out all the snappy and unrelentingly quotable dialogue, and tack on fuck-spattered bon mots like "Big. Fuckin'. Gun. Awwwwww shit!" and "Semper Fi, motherfucker!" Ditch any adrenaline rush of excitement, tension, or anything in the same voting district as characterization, and...yeah, that's Doom.

The plot pretty much boils down to "Martian bughunt", but if you really wanna know... An ancient passageway bridging Earth and Mars has been rediscovered, and some sprawling, megalithic corporation has hopped onboard the Ark to hammer out a state-of-the-art research facility. One group is focused squarely on archeological studies, and the other builds and tests bleeding-edge weaponry or...something like that. Anyway, it kinda goes without saying that something goes terribly wrong. All communication is cut-off, and The Rock and his crack team of Marines swoop in to rescue both the big brains in the white shirts along with their morally beige research. If you've ever torn through any science-fiction-tinged action flick, ever, the smart money says you can fill in the rest from there.

Like a lot of the movies Doom is not-so-shamelessly ripping off wholesale, there's a constant undercurrent of horror as well. This isn't the run-and-gun shoot-'em-up from the PC game; only a tiny handful of creatures are lurking around for the bulk of the flick, and there are hardly ever more than one beastie and maybe two soldiers piled on-screen at once. It takes a stab at being dark and atmospheric, sending the Marines trudging through shadowy, silent catacombs and draping the demons in an inky black until one suddenly leaps into the frame. It's agonizingly dull, really, since pretty much the entire two hour movie is nothing but our gun-totin' heroes meandering around and, every once in a while, stumbling upon some hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength. Doom can't even milk a good jump
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scare out of the whole thing.

I'll try to get this over with as quickly as I can. Threadbare and kinda incoherent plot. Stilted, wooden acting straight across the board. Ridiculously dark lighting to try to cover up how awful everything looks. Room temperature action. A generic electro-metal score that sounds like bumper music for a UFC match. Oh, and then there's the first-person shooter sequence. One long stretch of the movie near the end sports the same FPS view as the PC game, shoving the camera lens clean through Karl Urban's eyes. The worst idea for video game adaptation this side of Uwe Boll's pixely gameplay footage in House of the Dead, it's kind of a cross between peeking over a gamer's shoulder and a stroll through the Jaycees' spook house at the county fair. Yikes.

I guess I should still give credit to Doom for sidestepping some of the standard issue expectations for this sort of genre flick, although The Rock dug the movie's biggest twist so much that he made it a point to spell it out in every last interview he did back when this first limped into theaters. One-time Bond girl Rosamund Pike deserves some kind of medal for hanging around what looks to be a pretty chilly Czech movie set without any Playtex underwire to help her out. So...anything else worth mentioning? This Blu-ray release of Doom is unrated and rambles on twelve minutes or so longer than the theatrical cut. Ian Jane's DVD review spells out some of the differences if you're really itching to know, but the short version is a set of pretty decent kills and a good bit of splatter, not that any of that's even close enough to salvaging a years-too-late cash-in this half-thought-out and uninspired, though. Skip It.


Video
Hmmm. I actually gave Doom a pretty solid writeup when it bowed on HD DVD closing in on three years ago, but this high-def master really doesn't hold up these days. Detail and definition are mediocre, suffering from muddy contrast and just falling short of the standards of a newly-minted Blu-ray disc. The photography is so obnoxiously dark that a good bit of the detail is crushed in the shadows, and although the video as a whole has a harshly digital look to it, those darker moments are especially grimy and grainy. Weak.

Doom is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and has been encoded with VC-1.


Audio
Doom's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is ridiculously overcooked, although...what else are you going to get with a big, dumb action flick like this? The hyperaggressive sound design summons a hellish amount of bass, and snarls, screams, and a couple hundred thousands spent shells fill every square inch of the surrounds. The overcranked action drowns out more than a little of Doom's clunky dialogue, and that can only be considered a plus.

English (SDH) subtitles have also been piled on here alongside subs and lossy DTS 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish.

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Extras
The same old stuff from the '06 DVD and HD DVD is warmed over again in standard definition here. It's all lightweight and skews overly promotional: featurettes on the grueling training the Space Marines had to endure, a peek at the creature design and makeup effects, how the first person shooter sequence was engineered and executed, and the enormous impact the PC game left on the landscape. This all clocks in just under an hour in total, but none of it's really worth the hassle.


The Final Word
Big, loud, dark, and dumb: Skip It.
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