Wednesday, November 02, 2005

DOOM: Another alien monsta hunt

(action thriller)
Time: 104 mins
Rating: * 1/2

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SOMEONE has unwittingly opened a door at the Olduvai Research Station on Mars and the proverbial hell has broken loose. A legion of nightmarish creatures is chomping the staff there — and an SOS is sent out to the Rapid Response Tactical Squad (RRTS).

As the squad sets out for Olduvai, its leader, known only as Sarge (Dwayne Johnson, or The Rock) tells his men that it is a ‘Level 5 Quarantine’ which means no one gets in or out. Yes folks, we are on to another Big Alien Monster Hunt — and if you are a fan of Doom the video- game, you know what to expect.

For the uninitiated, Doom the video-game was unleashed to the world in 1993 by Id Software, a small company in Mesquite, Texas. It boasts heart-stopping action, horrible monsters and its First Person Shooter perspective in which gamers explore the map and annihilate enemies through the eyes of their on-screen ‘hero’.

Doom The Movie allows us to follow the RRTS, a motley bunch of hardened Marines, to the shooting gallery that is Olduvai. Of course, director Andrzej Bartkowiak (of Romeo Must Die) and his scripters have provided some human interest background to the characters but it is barely enough for us to root for them.

Besides the no-nonsense Sarge, we have Reaper (Karl Urban) who is reunited with his estranged anthropologist sister, Dr Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike), at Olduvai. Expectedly, she is concerned with healing her colleagues while her brother is out to ensure that “nobody gets out alive”. The others are forgettable monster-fodder except, perhaps, for Dexter Fletcher who plays the weird wheelchair-bound communications officer.

There are claims by Dr Sam that the original Martians were superhuman, with an extra chromosome, but this is just mumbo-jumbo. Some of the monsters are parasites like those in Alien, but we don’t get a good look at them simply because the computer-generated images are not up to scratch. Most of the action takes place in dark areas and this can be irritating after a while.

Expectedly, Bartkowiak also includes a five-minute ‘First Person Shooter’ sequence, ostensibly for the game fans, but it would probably leave the non-gamers confused and frustrated. Among the cast, the only ones providing anything that can be considered acting are Urban and Pike. But then with such banal lines, it is difficult to be convincing.

Doom will probably get a boost from its video-game fan base — and then languish in the video rental stores. It makes Resident Evil look like a masterpiece.


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