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Thursday, September 24, 2020

15 Years Later: ‘Doom’ Captured the Spirit of the Game Better Than Most Video Game Movies

Even with the success of this year’s Sonic The Hedgehog, there has always been skepticism when it comes to video game movie adaptations. Personally, these types of movies hold a special place in my heart – though I do think a decent amount of the criticism surrounding them is valid. Rather than offer fleshed out characters or provide more detailed stories, a lot of video game adaptations put emphasis on Easter eggs (gems that fans of said source material will pick up on). Can this be fun? Sure. But it doesn’t make for an effective adaptation. This has been an issue through many of the Resident Evil movies (as well as the two Silent Hill adaptations). 

While there should be a care for story and characters, when it comes to game adaptations, I think it’s also essential to capture the spirit of the game – and I think Doom does this better than most. 

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak and written by David Callaham and Wesley Strick, Doom was released in October 2005 and saw a mixed critical response (though mostly leaning towards negative). A good chunk of the complaints slammed the weak characters and plot; that said, some critics pointed out that the movie was an alright action flick with a decent sense of acknowledgement towards its source material. Hell, John Carmack (the co-creator of Doom) felt that the movie was solid for what it was.

Starring an awesome cast with the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Richard Brake and more, Doom primarily pulls inspiration from Doom 3. Compared to the lava and hellish dungeons in the older titles and the sci-fi bio settings in the more recent Doom entries, the environments of Doom 3 capture a feeling of dread. The halls of the research facility the player navigates are cold and desolate; flashing lights add an ominous tension while turning corners. The demons are horrifying, embracing more of a sinister appeal compared to the more cartoonish looks of later titles.

The Doom movie involves a research facility on Mars having come under attack, and it’s up to Johnson and his military crew to find out what’s happening. The movie abandons any mentioning of hell, opting for a scientific infection/virus to explain its monsters. Visually speaking, the hulking demons and other infected enemies are straight out of Doom 3, making for a nice nod towards the game. So what happens when you take a bunch of baddies and pit them against military dudes? Off-the-walls hostility. It’s total badassery watching massive chain guns go off and seeing the military outfit run down halls to chase a monster with industrial music playing in the background. If nothing more, it’s a lovely dose of adrenaline.

This is where I think the movie deserves more credit; not an apology or profound awareness, but an understanding of what it does accomplish. Because while the movie does contain a decent environment and amount of action that honors the source material of Doom 3, I also feel that it truly captures the spirit of Doom

As early on as the original Doom, there has always been detail to the environments and gameplay. Whether it’s the pits of hell or a space station, Doom has always established creepy environments. Along with this, the gameplay has always pushed for forward momentum. To run and gun. To me, this is the essential quality that is at Doom’s core; for while it has pleasing settings, it is that intensity that makes the game what it is. 

This same quality is what I view through 2005’s Doom. The moments of sci-fi based exposition are entertaining, but it is the consistent flow of adrenaline that taps into what makes Doom a decent adaptation. Though there is a lack of immersion since you can’t play the movie, it is commendable to acknowledge the adapted flow and tone the picture embraces. 

The best moment of this is the first-person perspective shift that takes place towards the end of the movie. In a scene devoted to Urban’s character, the camera transitions into first-person, aligning itself where Urban’s point of view would be. The audience watches as Urban runs down halls, drastically turns around corners and plows enemies away with bullets. This is the one time the movie becomes sincerely immersive, capturing that rush that comes from playing first-person and rail shooters. The sequence doesn’t just make for an awesome Doom moment, but a fun nod towards gaming aesthetics.

Thanks to this moment, along with the film’s overall use of action, Doom offers a plethora of thrills from beginning to end. The consistent delivery of combat and tense moments blend well with the sci-fi horror tone, all coming together and feeling aligned with the nature of the games.

When it comes to adaptations, I feel that some people may expect a one-to-one perfect representation; to me, while “adaptation” can certainly involve that level of specificity, it’s also about taking something and making it your own – while honoring the source material. So though it does not lean heavily into Doom lore, the movie aims to capture the thrill of the games. Its playful tone meshes well with the sci-fi horror and offers a satisfying frenzy.

Fifteen years later and I still love this movie and how it reminds me of the Doom games. When I watch a video game adaptation, I want to feel as if the movie is honoring the game; I want to experience a movie that nails the excitement I get from the games I love. Doom isn’t a perfect movie, but I find it tough to say it is a bad adaptation. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the setting, awesome monsters and overall action, Doom captures the off the wall intensity of the games quite well. And it’s well worth a rewatch for its fifteenth anniversary.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3633356/15-years-later-doom-captured-spirit-game-better-video-game-movies/

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