Maybe it says something that Doom’s biggest highlight is an extended first-person sequence. While a technical marvel, the homage to the video game is entirely superfluous to the story. Everything in it, with the exception of the Pinky Demon, has been seen before. The audience knows of the creatures and the infection spreading through this Mars research facility, so it feels like a sequence that exists to show off.
On second thought, maybe it is important. The audience is given brief flashes of the enemy throughout the film, and the first-person sequence offers the best viewpoint. Much of Doom is filled with the characters walking down barely lit hallways, flashing their guns at the camera, and walking forward while the audience waits.
You have to feel sorry for editor Derek Brechin who was probably given nothing but similar looking footage of Dwayne Johnson to sort out and make sense of. Doom is oppressively boring at times, especially for a film aimed at action-hungry gamers. The slow build to generate tension can work, but not when it is done the same way each time.
The game Doom tells the story of a marine sucked into hell to fight demons. That’s it. Translating it to the movie screen doesn’t change much.
Characters are given the well planned, thought out names such as Sarge, Goat, and The Kid. As you can guess, The Kid (Al Weaver) is the rookie, and destined to die from the opening frames.
Doom is filled with grisly violence, even an autopsy on one of the mutated scientists. At least that is one aspect of the game kept true, especially considering the outcry towards the video game when it was released. Everything else is a waste of celluloid.
Universal uses the what seems to be the same VC-1 encode from the HD DVD release of Doom for this Blu-ray effort. That leads to outstanding black levels, critical considering the low lighting used throughout the film. Image depth is truly spectacular. What appears to be black crush is undoubtedly a result of the lighting (or lack thereof) and the deep, black suits worn by the rescue team.
Definition is generally consistent, bringing out excellent detail and textures. Clearly defined beads of sweat, pores, and hair are exceptional. Clothing carries a clean, crisp texture. The mutation autopsy is wonderful for its gross-out factor, heightened by the clarity of this transfer. Every ridge of the prop is visible, along with glistening blood.
Despite all of the positives, Doom struggles with noise, especially against brightly saturated blues (watch around the 26:00 minute marker, amongst some others). Also, the dim nature means textures are barely visible at times, no fault of the transfer but of the intentionally non-existent light. It also gives the image a soft quality.
Doom’s DTS-HD mix is constantly aggressive from the opening logos. The early zoom-in shot of Mars completely obliterates the subwoofer, as do many shots later. Gunfire is immensely powerful, with the clean highs of used shells falling to the floor to the explosions from the barrel.
Ambiance is spectacular, including the opening scenes with helicopters flying around in the surrounds. Later, echoes dominate a sewer investigation, with dripping, falling water and screams. An animal lab is eerie, aided by the loud cries of caged animals.
The first-person sequence is a complete audio experience, with loud, blaring music, minimal dialogue, and lots of gunfire. With all of that going on, the mix handles it all audibly, cleanly, and effectively.
Extras follow the same pattern of previous DVD and HD DVD releases, with the sole exception of typical BD-Live support. This means there are four featurettes on the movie itself, including one dedicated to the FPS scene. Another on the suit work involved is exceptional as well. Less interesting pieces include the military training actors always go through for these movies and another on the Rock’s brief make-up in the film.
Doom Nation is a fine piece on the video game, including its history and recollections from various industry insiders on what it meant to gaming. Game-on is now terribly dated, spouting off tips for Doom 3 the game.