Sunday, 31 December 2006

DVD: Doom

Lowdown: A theatrical version of Doom 3.
Review:
We don't go for horror films, especially not the type that tries to scare you by startling you with nasty surprises after particularly quiet moments. These types of films don't add much flavor to my life, which lately has been scary enough by its rights. However... being that we're both fans of the game, curiosity got to us and we rented the DVD out.
The film's premises follow the outline of the Doom 3 game quite closely (note these outlines are different to the supposed plot line of the first doom games): something goes wrong on Mars, and a team of supposedly SWAT soldiers led by the former wrestler gone actor The Rock are sent there to see what's going on. Surprise surprise, the area is full of nasty stuff: it turns out that by doing creepy experiments the people working on Mars have awoken some sort of a devil. Lots of people die, lots of ugly monsters kill and get killed, and that's pretty much it.
Now, did I like the film version?
Before answering I have to stress that the film was indeed made to look and feel like the game: sets, lighting, monsters - it's as close as things could get. The main difference is that unlike the game, where you shoot monsters from the word go till the end, the film takes its time to "develop".
What I did like about the film is that it tried to avoid the typical cliches: for example, people don't get killed a second after the soundtrack goes silent; they take a few more seconds to die. And the order in which the people die defies the order we've guessed they will die at.
If you get the feeling I'm mocking the film then you're onto it. Special mocking goes to the false pseudo scientific gibberish provided by the token woman character in the film, who naturally plays the scientist amongst the soldiers. In explaining the origins of the monsters she says things that sound really cool about genes and about how the soul is defined by them and how a certain chromosome added the a human gene would make it all powerful - lots of bullshit, in short. The problem is that I've seen to many people who don't tend to read publications such as Scientific American take such bullshit for real, and emerge from a film like Doom - a film where you're supposed to take nothing out of other than fun through terror - taking some newly found knowledge on science. If anything, the fact that films can get away with such bullshit pseudo science - regardless of whether they mean to confuse people or not - says something about our society today and the way we treat knowledge.
Anyway, Doom is what you expect it to be: a shallow, semi scary film that you'd like to forget after you watch it. And the only reason why you might watch it is the love of the game.
Best scene: A five minute segment that is shot as a continuous first person shooter like scene. At least the film makers knew how to pay homage to the game.
Picture quality: The film is mostly very dark, and therefore quite a challenge to our LCD rear projection TV. I suspect it's quite good, picture quality wise, but the deficiencies of the LCD format in rendering darker scenes prevent me from passing an authoritative view.
Sound quality: Can't judge that either - to prevent unnecessary startles, we watched this one at a pretty low level. Seems like the surrounds were quite active, though.
Overall: 1.5 stars.

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