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Movie Review

"This is Dr. Carmack, classified research, Olduvai, ID 6627. We've got a Level 5 breach. Implement quarantine procedures now!" Thus begins Doom, the big-screen adaptation of one of the most popular video game franchises of all time.

The year is 2046. And as that garbled, desperate video message from a frantic researcher indicates, all is not well on Mars, specifically the Olduvai Research Station. For 20 years since discovering a teleportation portal called The Ark in the Nevada desert, earthlings have been traveling back and forth from the Red Planet, conducting archeological and genetic research. Now, something has gone horribly wrong, and a Rapid Action Tactical Squad of crack marines beams to Mars to ensure that whatever has been unleashed doesn't find its way back home. Working on behalf of the Union Aerospace Corporation, the team of eight marines must secure the station, locate six missing scientists and retrieve vital research that the UAC scientists had been conducting. All in a day's work, right?

The cocky group of marines—nicknamed Sarge, Reaper, Goat, Duke, Destroyer, Portman, Mac and The Kid—swagger into the quarantine operation with equal quantities of ammo and attitude. Stalked by something in the darkness, the team begins to lose members, and the remaining marines become increasingly skittish as bravado turns into fear and fear becomes horror.

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Positive Elements

Reaper and his sister, Samantha, who has devoted her life to researching the remains of ancient humanoids discovered on Mars, have a contentious relationship because he left Mars to join the marines. Despite their squabbles, however, they care deeply about one another. Reaper is committed to saving his sister—who's equally committed to solving the mystery of what created the monstrous, yet humanlike creatures that begin attacking the team.

[Spoiler Warning] An unexpected moral conflict erupts near the end of the movie involving Sarge's determination to follow his orders to the letter—even if that means killing innocent people whom he suspects may be a threat to Earth should they successfully return. Though Reaper and Samantha can prove several survivors at the Mars base haven't been infected by the evil that the team discovers, Sarge advocates murdering them anyway. Several characters, including Reaper, Samantha and The Kid steadfastly oppose Sarge's increasingly psychotic behavior. One character sacrifices his life by resisting Sarge's unethical orders (the rogue marine executes him). It's a dark scene, but it's clear that Sarge's violent behavior and intent have crossed the line—which leads to the movie's final showdown between good (represented by Reaper) and a former protagonist who's now gone over to the dark side (represented by Sarge).

Spiritual Content

Goat is an obviously disturbed Christian. He wears a cross, and in one early scene we hear him begin the words of a prayer, "I confess ..." Later, he takes God's name in vain in a moment of frustration. Then, to resolve his guilt for swearing, he carves a bloody cross into his forearm with his knife. His arm is badly scarred already, indicating that such self-mutilating "penance" is a frequent part of his life. Goat quotes 1 Peter 1:8, which talks about the adversary looking for someone to devour. Another character rebukes him for always talking about that "Bible s---."

Sexual Content

Samantha wears a tight-fitting top for the entire movie (though it's often covered by her lab coat), and her good looks earn several sexually suggestive comments from the marines. A very brief shot pans across a pile of corpses in a dark room; one appears to be a woman with an exposed breast. Before the marines deploy, Portman brags about his intent to lock himself in a hotel room with three "she-boys" and a bottle of tequila. He suggests to several attractive women at Olduvai that they need to be strip-searched by him. In Sarge's first appearance, the camera lingers on his shirtless torso, emphasizing his manly, marine-ly physique. A pin-up poster of a nude woman is seen in the background.

Violent Content

The Doom video game franchise is one of the bloodiest around. And the movie has done its best to emulate the level of gore and violence found in those games. Gunfire is all but omnipresent. And that's just the beginning.

An infected scientist gets shot and flies through a glass window. A marine is attacked by one of the creatures, whose incredibly long tongue penetrates his neck gruesomely. Samantha and one of the marines evade a pursuing creature, jumping through a special "nanofield" door that then solidifies around their assailant, trapping him alive. Later, another character shoots him in the head at point-blank range.

A creature decapitates a marine, whose head rolls away from its body. Another character who's been infected kills himself by bashing his head against a Plexiglas wall. After the marines learn that infected people who die come back to life in a zombie-like form, they begin shooting corpses of previous victims (and there are many of these) to make sure they stay dead. Sarge shoots one of his men in the head after he refuses to follow orders.

In a long scene near the end, the camera's point of view emulates Doom's first-person shooter perspective as Reaper wanders through the complex eviscerating zombies and other attacking creatures with his massive machine gun and anything else he can get his hands on. He buries an ax in one creature's head. Others simply have their guts blown out, often splattering the walls with blood—just like the video game. He also battles a huge, doglike monster, even using a chainsaw on him. An enemy shoves a piece of metal piping through Reaper's hand, which later gets pulled out.

A panicked woman tries to hold an elevator by shoving her arm through its closing doors—a bad idea since she stays put while her arm stays in the elevator. (Her arm then turns up in several other scenes.) People are pulled down by something unseen through grates in a walkway. Marines find a room with functional organs in specimen jars and animals in cages; they return later to find the animals' entrails scattered and splattered throughout the room. A dazed and bloodstained Dr. Carmack tears his own ear off. An infected character rips off a rat's head and eats the body. Samantha pulls organs out of one of the dead creatures.

Crude or Profane Language

At least 40 s-words, 25 f-words and a surprisingly high number of usages of "g--d--n," about a dozen. Characters also take God's or Jesus' name in vain an additional half-dozen times, and utter a fair number of milder profanities.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The Kid asks Portman for some kind of drug to calm his nerves as they patrol a dark hallway. Later, another character notices The Kid's pupils are dilated, and angrily tells him not to do drugs on duty.

Other Negative Elements

The UAC is depicted as a company more concerned with the research the scientists were doing than their actual lives.

Conclusion

In 1979, Ridley Scott's sci-fi horror tour de force Alien single-handedly created a new genre. Since then, scores of imitators have offered repackaged versions of that story, one in which a team of heavily armed, overconfident hunters unexpectedly become the prey of horrifying monsters lurking in the dark.

It could be argued that the first-person shooter video game genre (so called because the game happens from the perspective of the character's eyes, with only the weapon of choice appearing in front of him or her), simply projected Scott's Alien template into an interactive format. So why not cycle the story right back to the big screen?

Doom is pretty much exactly what you would expect: clichéd characters marching through an extraordinarily violent story. It packs few surprises while subjecting us to a cinematic version of the blood and gore fans of the video games have come to expect (and with even more profanity mixed in).

Hard-core gamers may be surprised, then, that the movie does exercise restraint in one area. In the video games, the marauding monsters aren't mere genetic mutations. Instead, they're a demonic horde straight from hell, saturating the games with gruesome violence and satanic imagery. Apparently, the moviemakers decided those images might not appeal to the broad, mainstream audience they're gunning for.

Even if it exercises a degree of "restraint" in this area, however, Doom has nothing to recommend it. It will no doubt draw in some of the franchise's die-hard aficionados, but Doom's paint-by-the-numbers story line has already been rehashed so many times that it's simply pointless to revisit it. And when you add in a planet's worth of blood, gore and profanity, Doom is, well ... doomed.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Karl Urban as Reaper; Rosamund Pike as Samantha; Deobia Oparei as Destroyer; Ben Daniels as Goat; Razaaq Adoti as Duke; Richard Brake as Portman; Al Weaver as The Kid; The Rock as Sarge

Distributor

Universal Pictures

Network

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Record Label

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Publisher

In Theaters

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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