DOOM was my favorite game to play as a child. It was visceral, brutal, and really fun. Killing demons as the Doom Marine is something I can do any day. It's a flawless game that still works now. As a kid, when I heard there was going to be a movie based on the game, I was ecstatic! I counted down the days until that film came out and at the time I actually loved it! I still enjoy that movie to date. It's a fun B-movie that has little to do with the game it's inspired by. Now, we have our 2nd attempt at turning this legendary video game series into a film series and boy was I not excited for it. The trailers made the film look extremely cheap and it ending up as a straight to DVD release didn't help build up hope. While the movie is certainly not as bad as it could've been, it still ends up being a waste of time and the IP it's based on.
The film is written and directed by Tony Giglio (S.W.A.T. Under Siege and wrote the Death Race sequels) who has experience at over the top action and does perfectly fine with the few action sequences in Annihilation. The problem is, while competently shot, the action is not exciting enough which is a major problem considering it's the only thing that it really needed to get right. DOOM as a game has no real story and when it does it's very vague and minimal. What it has is brutal action, tons of demons, and one pissed off space marine. You can tell Giglio is a big fan of DOOM and the game's developers Id Software. While it lacks the feel of the game, it makes up for in plenty of really fun references that Giglio sprinkles throughout the movie, and I'm a sucker for references when they're done smartly or in a fun way. The small budget was most likely another big reason why the action wasn't as big as it should've been, so I'll give Giglio credit for really trying to imbue a little DOOM action in there but just not enough for my taste.
Pretty much Aliens except with demons that kinda look like the ones from the games. That's it really. It's very generic, predictable, and not interesting. This would be okay if the movie treated itself like a DOOM movie should, but it doesn't so it really gets dull quickly. To give the film credit, it does try to give our main character (cheekily named Joan Dark in reference to another game series) a little back story, but it's never really fleshed out other than a quick explanation and flashback at the end. Speaking of the ending...oh boy. Everything you've been waiting to see in a video game adaptation of DOOM happens at the end of the movie and it sure is a letdown that ends on the biggest and lamest cliffhanger I think I've seen all year.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Our group of space marines that we follow are all pretty basic stereotypes that are just here to be fodder for the demons to kill in brutal ways. No one’s really terrible, but most of them don't get a lot of screen time to leave any form of impression. One thing I can say for sure is that Amy Manson is very good as our lead space marine Joan Dark, and she's actually convincingly badass! All of the fun moments during the film are because of the things she does. As an action hero, I don't mind her one bit. Sadly, as I said above, she's still too underdeveloped for me to care about her as a person. Now please put DOOM Marine in here next time!
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The DOOM games have incredible, adrenaline-pumping soundtracks that rank with some of the best soundtracks ever! Usually a mix of metal and rock, but all of it feeling distinct. Annihilation on the other hand, has a serviceable soundtrack with the score being pretty plain and some sounding a lot like something you'd hear in a Marvel score which was strange. Not a lot of that adrenaline pumping heavy metal is in this. Hell, the credit song is somber which you'd think to be the perfect time to crank the music, but nope. Not bad but certainly not memorable.
For a small budget, straight to video release, it's actually not bad. The practical makeup for the demons is solid even though I'm not the biggest fan of the new demon designs. The CGI has a video game quality to it which ends up working well because most of the time that there is a special effect on the screen there are no humans on as well, so there's not a big disconnect. That's until the end of the film where a human character has to interact with a completely CG world and the green screen work is so bad that it completely took me out of the movie. It’s a shame because I was honestly impressed for most of the movie until that shoddy green screen left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
It's sad to say but I think I prefer the original DOOM movie over this. I can tell the director loves the series and wanted to make a movie that the fans would enjoy, but it just didn't work. I hope he does get another chance with a bigger budget and stays closer to what made the game so much fun. If John Wick can be amazing with the small amount of story that it has then I think a DOOM movie with just a guy running around killing demons because he's pissed can work. But until then...I'll just play the game.