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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Doom: Unrated Extended Edition HD-DVD (2005)

"Search and destroy. Orders received and understood."
- Sarge (The Rock)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: May 01, 2006

Stars: Karl Urban, The Rock, Rosamund Pike
Other Stars: Raz Adoti, Deobia Oparei, Ben Daniels, Richard Brake, Dexter Fletcher, Al Weaver, Brian Steele, Doug Jones, Robert Russell
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (extreme violence, gore, language, brief nudity, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:52m:37s
Release Date: April 25, 2006
UPC: 025192645327
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BCA- B

DVD Review

The computer game Doom was epochal in many ways in the industry, not least of all for its atmospheric character as well as its nonstop splatter graphics. One of the most purely cinematic games, this classic first-person shooter seems like a natural for translation to the big screen. It doesn't disappoint, and although it's setting the bar awfully low one can say that it's easily one of the best video game adaptations.

In the year 2046, a mysterious portal to Mars is being used by an archaeological expedition. But things have gone terribly wrong, and the Rapid Response Tactical Squad, led by Sarge (The Rock) and John "Reaper" Grimm (Karl Urban), must go to Mars and deal with the unnatural threat that has been released before it can make its way back to Earth. Complicating matters is the fact that one of the scientists on the project is Reaper's sister, Samantha (Rosamund Pike). Once the RRTS arrives, it's nonstop action as Imps, vile half-human creatures, systematically destroy and possess the members of the squad one by one.

One doesn't expect much from the genre, but what you do expect is graphic violence, and lots of it. This adaptation has the good sense to know its target audience well, and the guns are blazing throughout. Many aspects of the original game can be found here, such as the chaingun, the chainsaw and of course the legendary BFG, wielded by The Rock. The creature design is derived from the Doom3 game, with its more lurid and nightmarish monsters, but pleasantly heavy reliance has been placed on guys in monster suits rather than CGI. That's not the only surprise in store, but it is certainly a welcome one at a time when most sci-fi seems to be nothing but blue and green screens.

If ever anyone was born to play the first person, Sarge, of this first-person shooter it was The Rock. He captures the look and the killing intensity nicely, and gets a few moments where his facial expressions mimic those of Sarge in the game (especially his glee at picking up the BFG). Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) gives a surprisingly varied performance as he comes into conflict with Sarge, torn between devotion to his sister and disgust at the revealed secret about what has really been going on at the Martian station. Rosamund Pike (former Bond Girl from Die Another Day) is here mostly for eye candy, but she puts a lot into her role and comes off as a fairly credible scientist, not afraid to get her hands dirty (or gory, as the case may be).

The script makes a couple of token efforts at relevance, such as a brief and dramatic confrontation between the demands of morality and the necessity of soldiers to follow orders, which leads to a particularly effective segment. But really, this is a thrill ride, and it keeps that in focus all the time. One of the highlights is a nifty setpiece that re-creates the FPS viewpoint of the original games, with its dizzying camera and frenetic sense of monstrous things erupting from behind every corner. Although a full five-minute version is included in the extras, that tends to lose intensity after a while; the version in the film is a good deal tighter and works very well. As in the rest of the film, the action is relentless, the violence is over the top (sometimes ridiculously so), and the atmosphere is utterly creepy. It would be hard to make a film about monsters roaming in dark hallways not be tense, but the creators manage not to mess things up, which is considerably better than one finds in videogame-cum-motion pictures.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: While the standard presentation of this film was not exactly up to snuff, the HD version is surprisingly not a lot better. Fine detail is generally lacking (except on hero closeups of Sarge) throughout). The sequences that are bathed in red are much more solid and convincing in this presentation. True to the video game origins, the picture is primarily swathed in black, which doesn't have macroblocking, but it also doesn't have much in the way of shadow detail. For maximum effect, this should be viewed in a perfectly dark room. On the whole, however, the HD version comes off about as well as a well-rendered standard DVD, making this the first serious disappointment of the new format.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Where the picture is lacking, once again the audio doesn't stint at all. As was the case with the original, the 5.1 track is a sonic devastation, with plenty of active surround material, loud explosions and challengingly low LFE materials. A fine mix and a well-produced realization of it that will have you jumping out of your seat.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: As was the case on the original release, the disc presents half a dozen featurettes that total over 50 minutes of running time. The first, Basic Training, focuses on military advisor Tom McAdams and his training of the cast; apparently the toughest part was getting the cast not to flinch when they fired their guns. Rock Formations looks at the makeup process and prosthetics worn by The Rock, focusing on the old school techniques being used. Also old school are the materials in Master Monster Makers (10m:55s), which looks at the work of the Stan Winston group and their practical effects work on the film. First Person Shooter discusses the filming of the centerpiece segment and includes the full five-minute version. Doom Nation looks at the history of the game from its shareware beginnings to the state-of-the-art work on Doom3. The last featurette gives some handy tips for staying alive in Doom3, but mostly the piece just serves to scare the viewer. Unfortunately, none of this material is mastered in HD, which seems more than a little short-sighted for a DVD originally released just a few months ago. The supposed Xbox game from the original version is missing, but since it didn't work on our screener for the standard disc anyway, that's not a serious omission.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Perfect for that High Body Count Night, it contains plenty of splatter, horror and atmosphere. The transfer once again could be better, but there are quite a few interesting extras.

 


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