Doom appears in an aspect ratio of approximately :1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An intensely dark film, the transfer occasionally became tough to view, but most of the time it looked quite good.
When I said “intensely dark”, I meant it. I can’t recall the last time I saw a movie so heavily cloaked in shadows. These shots usually presented good clarity and visibility. At times I found it a bit difficult to make out details, but I found that low-light definition was solid for the majority of the flick. Blacks were also deep and firm.
Sharpness came across well. The odd long shot demonstrated light softness, but the flick usually appeared concise and well-defined. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges – a miracle given all of the grates found here – and edge enhancement remained minor.
As for colors… well, this wasn’t exactly an extravaganza of hues. In fact, I find it hard to recall many tones other than blood red. The production went with a dark, gloomy look that didn’t favor much beyond harsh blues. What we found looked fine, but this was a monochromatic flick much of the time. A challenging image to reproduce, the DVD usually did so with aplomb.
Note that many reviews of this DVD will be based on a screener disc Universal sent out before street date. That DVD did not accurately represent the final product. I started to watch it but quit after 15 minutes because it was clear something was wrong. Indeed, the screener packed the whole 113-minute movie and all its extras onto a single-layered disc! Shadow detail was terrible and the whole thing looked murky and messy. I requested a copy of the final product for review, and that’s what I discussed here. The retail disc looked much better than that crappy screener.
At least both screener and retail DVDs offered identical Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks – and they were good! With all its action, I expected a visceral mix and that’s exactly what I got from Doom. The soundfield offered nearly constant movement and activity. Gunfire and various other attack elements zipped around us and engulfed us well. These created an accurately placed and three-dimensional feel.
The surrounds added tons of unique information and played a very strong role in the proceedings. Monsters, explosions, and bullets filled the back, and the rears helped add to the feeling of mayhem. The design made sure everything was appropriately localized and meshed together smoothly. The FPS sequence was especially memorable as it put us inside the character’s head.
I found few reasons to complain about the audio quality. Bass response was occasionally a little too loud, as some bits seemed boomy. Nonetheless, I thought most of the low-end was impressive. Effects blasted us well and kicked us in the gut with solid clarity and definition. Speech sounded concise and natural, while music was bold and bright. This was a very strong mix that made the movie more enjoyable.
While no audio commentary appears on the DVD, we do find a mix of featurettes. Basic Training goes for 10 minutes, 32 seconds, and includes movie shots, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. We hear from actors Karl Urban, Richard Brake, Deobia Oparei, Raz Adoti, and the Rock, and military advisor Tom McAdams.
As implied by the title, this show looks at the military training experienced by the actors. We watch their workouts and see how McAdams whipped them into shape. I’ve seen plenty of similar feaurettes in the past, but this one still seems useful and interesting. I like the attitude McAdams brings to it; heck, it’s refreshing to see someone other than Dale Dye for once.
Next we watch Rock Formation. This five-minute and 37-second piece features info from the Rock, animatronic and makeup effects supervisor John Rosengraft, and makeup artist Jeff Dawn. The featurette looks at the makeup applied to the Rock for some monster sequences. Based on the title, I feared this would be little more than a cheesy puff piece about how cool the Rock is. Happily, it’s much more informative than that, and its focus on showing the makeup processes makes it strong.
With the 10-minute and 54-second Master Monster Makers, we find notes from Rosengraft, the Rock, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Id Software lead artist Kenneth Scott, and actors Doug Jones and Rosamund Pike. As you might guess, this one shows us the design and creation of the movie’s beasties. We learn about all the nuts and bolts as well as putting actors in the suits. This show turns out to be another good one, as it involves us in the material well. Once again, the footage from the shoot is a lot of fun.
After this we look at the First Person Shooter Sequence. The behind the scenes part runs five minutes and 56 seconds, and we then take a look at the five-minute and four-second scene itself. The featurette aspect includes statements from Di Bonaventura and visual effects supervisor Jon Farhat. Since he directed the sequence, Farhat dominates this piece as he tells us all the planning and problems involved in shooting the scene. He gives us a good overview of how he tried to remain true to the game but also make the piece work for the big screen.
We follow this with the 14-minute and 39-second Doom Nation. It presents comments from the Rock, Di Bonaventura, Scott, G4 TV show hosts Kevin Pereira, Adam Sessler, and Morgan Webb, Id Software co-owner/CEO Todd Hollenshead, Id Software co-owner/technical director John Carmack, Id Software co-owner/artist Kevin Cloud, and Id Software co-owner/lead designer Tim Willits. “Nation” looks at the creation and development of the original Doom game, its success and sequels, and its legacy. At times, this ends up as an ad for Doom 3. Nonetheless, it gives us a good picture of the motivations behind the first game and a nice snapshot of the industry in the early Nineties.
For the final featurette, we get the six-minute and 47-second Game On! Some schmoe named “Jason” provides tips on how to survive Doom 3. If I planned to play Doom 3, this might be helpful. I don’t, so it isn’t.
Next comes a Doom 3 XBox Demo. I’d test this… if I had an XBox. I don’t, so I can’t.
The disc opens with some ads. We get Previews for Jarhead, First Descent, Battlestar Galactica and Brick. No trailer for Doom appears on the DVD.
Although it didn’t break the videogame movie curse, Doom isn’t the disaster I thought it’d be. While wholly derivative of Aliens and never anything memorable, it provides a lively and fun action-adventure that achieves most of its modest goals. The DVD offers very good picture and audio along with a mix of mostly interesting featurettes. Fans of this sort of flick should have fun with Doom.