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Dumb ‘Doom’ is like a half-hearted B-movie

Film blurs the line between video game and movie, which isn’t a plus
/ Source: The Associated Press

That “Doom” is dumb comes as no great shocker. That The Rock continues to try to build a movie persona beyond one-note hulking action hero is no surprise.

That he fails at every turn ... well, you weren’t expecting Brando in “On the Waterfront,” were you?

The latest video-game-turned-action-movie sticks to the essentials of the source material, Marines blowing away zombies and mutant monsters on Mars. And it doesn’t bring much more to it.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak (“Romeo Must Die,” “Cradle 2 the Grave”) keeps the lighting low and the action a blur, and he apparently never saw a don’t-go-down-that-dark-hallway horror cliche he didn’t want to steal from a thousand other monster movies.

Screenwriters David Callaham and Wesley Strick have created a batch of futuristic military grunts who look like one-dimensional washouts that couldn’t make the cut for “Aliens.”

And The Rock dispenses with the campy undercurrent of humor that made him a passable action figure in “The Scorpion King” and “The Rundown,” here playing a stoic, mercilessly dutiful anti-hero with barely a hint of personality.

The movie’s simple premise: Researchers on Mars unleash an ancient evil lingering in the genes of fossil remains of a humanoid race that once lived on the red planet. People are transformed into undead zombies and gnarly demons seeking to pass their monstrous mutation on to others.

Ace Marine veteran Sarge (The Rock) leads his troops into the dark tunnels of the research facility to root out the creatures and salvage the work of archaeologist Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike), who happens to be the sister of the Reaper (Karl Urban), one of Sarge’s top men.

A deluge of halfhearted B-movie scares is about all “Doom” offers. The most complex character interaction is a superficial exploration of Samantha and her brother’s tragic little past.

The Rock’s Sarge is robotically boring for most of the movie before turning callously dogmatic about his mission, a scenario in which he’s still boring.

“I need soldiers!” Sarge banally declares. “I don’t need anybody else but soldiers!”

Creature effects amount to little more than gory carcasses out for a stroll, while this whole legion-of-rabid-zombies thing either needs a major makeover or a long furlough from the big screen.

“Doom” dubiously blurs the line between film and video games by actually turning into a semblance of the game’s “first-person shooter” perspective, an extended action sequence of slaughter seen from a Marine hero’s point of view. Fans of the game may love it, but the sequence will be a prolonged annoyance to everyone else.