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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrzej Bartkowiak
Cast:
The Rock, Karl Urban, Ben Daniels, Razaaq Adoti, Richard Brake, Al Weaver, Dexter Fletcher, Yao Chin, Robert Russell, Daniel York
Writing Credits:
Dave Callaham, Wesley Strick

Tagline:
Hell Breaks Loose.

Synopsis:
A frantic call for help from a remote research station on Mars sends a team of mercenary Marines into action. Led by The Rock and Karl Urban, they descend into the Olduvai Research Station, where they find a legion of nightmarish creatures, lurking in the darkness, killing at will. Once there, the Marines must use an arsenal of firepower to carry out their mission: nothing gets out alive. Based on the hugely popular video game, Doom is an explosive action-packed thrill ride!

Box Office:
Budget
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$15.488 million on 3043 screens.
Domestic Gross
$28.031 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/7/2006

Bonus:
• “Basic Training” Featurette
• “Rock Formation” Featurette
• “Master Monster Makers” Featurette
• “First Person Shooter Sequence” Featurette
• “Doom Nation” Featurette
• “Game On!” Featurette
Doom 3 XBox Demo
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Doom: Unrated Extended Edition (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 9, 2006)

Every time a movie adapted from a videogame flops, folks shout “next time it’ll be different”. They always focus on the flaws they believe damned the most recent failure and tout the qualities that will make the next contender a winner.

Right now the videogame cause du jour is the 2007 release of Halo. Perhaps this flick will indeed break the curse, but I’ll believe it when I see it. 2005’s Doom sounded like a potential winner, but its withering reviews and anemic box office take of $28 million, it did nothing to separate itself from other financial duds in the genre.

Set in 2046, we learn that 20 years earlier, scientists discovered a portal called “The Ark”. This leads to an abandoned civilization on Mars. Even now no one really understands why this was done or who did it. All isn’t well, as some unseen beasties attach a scientific compound settled on Mars.

From there Marines receive an order to find out what happened. Led by Sarge (The Rock), the Rapid Response Tactical Squad (RRTS) heads through the Ark to get to the bottom of the situation. Among the crew, we spotlight John “Reaper” Grimm (Karl Urban), a Marine whose scientist parents died in the Olduvai settlement. He left a scholarly path after that, but his twin sister Samantha (Rosamund Pike) carried the torch, and she remains on Mars to continue this work.

This means the pair butt heads when they reunite. The movie follows an exploration of the planet’s mysteries but it usually concentrates on killing - lots of killing as the Marines find out what happened on the colony.

Going into my screening of Doom, I’d heard an abundance of negative comments about it. The flick garnered a miserable 19 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I can’t recall anything positive related to it. I got the impression it was just another cheesy videogame adaptation.

Indeed, that’s what it is, as the movie never aspires to be much more than that. But this doesn’t mean Doom can’t offer its own brand of minor fun – at least once you get past its insanely derivative nature.

Sure, one would expect a film like this to seem familiar – after all, it comes based on a very successful line of videogames. However, it’s not a familiarity with the Doom games that offers the sense of déjà vu. Instead, it’s the fact Doom the movie comes across as a virtual carbon copy of Aliens.

If the filmmakers didn’t intentionally rip off Aliens, I’ll eat a bug. There are far too many direct similarities for this to be anything other than a massive homage. Of course, Doom lacks the backstory of Aliens since we don’t have a known character like Ripley on whom to concentrate, but it strongly duplicates the look and pacing of the earlier film once the Marines case the scientific compound. Indeed, the sets look like they were simply recycled from the prior flick.

And let’s not forget the characters. Along with their generic names come one-dimensional personalities. In addition to Sarge and Reaper we get folks like sleazy perv Portman (Richard Brake), religious fanatic Goat (Ben Daniels), and rookie Kid (Al Weaver). The other characters don’t even amount to one-dimensional; they’re just there, though at least the movie tries to break down some walls with a potential interracial romance between Samantha and Duke (Raz Adoti).

Granted, Aliens featured simple stereotypes for its Marines, but they were such fun stereotypes! I love Aliens far too much for me to be an objective party, but I can’t believe anyone will favorably compare the personalities of Doom with Hicks, Vasquez and Hudson anytime soon.

Despite all these deficits – and effects that look generally cheesy – I must admit I thought Doom offered decent entertainment. The movie does attempt its own form of plot, and this plays a role in the proceedings and character changes. Nonetheless, we go to a flick like this for lots of action and mayhem, and Doom delivers with more than a few solid sequences.

I felt some ambivalence toward the movie’s showiest sequence: its “FPS” segment. This shows some of the action in a first-person point of view similar to gameplay. I like this nod to the videogames, but it doesn’t make for very good filmmaking. It just feels like I’m watching someone play Doom. Yeah, that’s the point, but once I get past the gimmick, the segment lacks spark.

It even musters some surprises along the way. At least one of the characters turns out different than expected. Much of the film’s predictable, but I’d be lying if I said I saw all its twists in advance.

I’d also be lying if I said I thought Doom offered a great movie. Basically a rehash of Aliens combined with aspects of the videogame series, there’s not much here I could call creative or fresh. Nonetheless, it tosses out enough visceral mayhem to entertain fans of the action genre.

Note that this extended unrated cut of Doom runs about 13 minutes longer than the 100-minute “PG-13” theatrical version. I’d love to detail the differences, but since I never saw the theatrical edition and this DVD doesn’t list the changes, I can’t do so. I expect this one includes more gore and profanity, but that’s not enough to fill out an extra 13 minutes. I assume we get more exposition and whatnot, but until/unless I find a listing of the changes, this’ll have to remain my speculation.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8461 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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