Doom review

Back in 1993, Doom was a major lurch forward in videogaming culture. You played, you'll remember, a one-man army blasting his way through the demon hordes of Satan - trudging through a network of military complexes, eventually emerging into the scorching depths of Hell. Flaming pentagrams, dismembered corpses on spikes... To gamers used to more placid offerings, it was like a wakeup call from Marilyn Manson.

The franchise progressed, technology-wise, but always stayed true to its chief pleasure: volleying hot lead into the faces of Beelzebub's most fierce and demented minions. So the movie version was never going to be the most cerebral ticket in town...

But did Bartkowiak really have to make it so brainless? Generic trash-talk, fleeting shadowy appearances of the mutated horrors, dark and shouty firefights and a child's portion of gore.

With a quiver of his lower eyelid, Mr The Rock dishes out his clinical brand of genocide while his band of action-movie archetypes blunder about their one-dimensional, ass-smashing antics. An attempt to inject a human element with Sarge's number two, Reaper (Urban) re-forging family ties with scientist sis Samantha (Pike) only draws unintended guffaws ("You chose a sniper scope instead of a microscope!").

Mostly, it's a cliché-scattered, gun-pumping farce with scowls and serious delivery of lines like, "Dr Carmack's condition is irreversible because Dr Carmack's condition is that he's dead!" But there's one saving grace. Around an hour in, the perspective switches to first-person as Reaper rampages around in a rage, tearing into beasties with familiar chainsaw and shotgun. It's a thrilling shift and, with the distinct lack of fiery skulls, demonic iconography and hulking Hell-spawn, the film's one and only concession to its source.

Best bit? The horrible/hilarious marine-on-marine dust-up where, after all the pussy bullshit weapons have clattered to the floor, we zoom in to The Rock, who bellows out a disrespectful challenge: "Semper fi, motherfucker!"

Save for a few unintentionally amusing lines and a brief but admittedly inspired set-piece, Doom fires a big, noisy blank.


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