Title: Doom: Annihilation
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Studio: Universal 1440 Entertainment
Director: Tony Giglio
Release Format: DVD/Bluray
No, you didn’t miss the release of the latest Doom game. That comes out in March 2020 and is titled “Doom Eternal”. What you may have missed though, is the latest live-action, straight to video installment of the Doom movie franchise, Doom: Annihilation. Alternatively titled Doom: Oops All Imps.
(Major Spoilers Ahead for Doom: Annihilation)
The movie opens in medias res, Avengers-style, in a laboratory where scientists are opening some sort of sinister-looking portal. Because these scientists have apparently never seen a movie, they send a surprisingly calm human test subject into the poorly-rendered CGI black rippling liquidy cylinder that’s very clearly a portal to a Hell dimension. When the test subject exits the portal, we see the shocked and horrified faces of the scientists. Then the camera cuts to the subject and *gasp* He’s turned into a monster-like creature!
Smash cut to the title card. DOOM: ANNIHILATION
Next, we get a shot of our protagonist exiting her cryo-sleep chamber in her underwear, a la Alien. You’re going to think, “Oh cool they got Alice Braga from Predators” but you will be wrong. Her name is Amy Manson and she’s been in 1-2 episodes of a lot of shows you may have seen (Torchwood, White Queen). This will be a running theme of the movie as the casting director seems to have raided a look-alike convention for not-Kevin Pollak, not-Olivia Munn, not-John Michael Higgins, not-Jon Bernthal, and the main love interest who I can’t decide whether to call not-Jason Sudeikis or not-Daniel Brühl, depending on the camera angle.
This is not a knock on the actors’ performances, by the way. I thought everyone, especially Ms. Manson, availed themselves quite well. It’s just something I found a little distracting throughout the movie. Also distracting; all of the female characters–three space marines and one scientist–looked like models. Of course, 99% of film actors are 99% more beautiful than your average Joe or Jane, but these women are beautiful in that way that’s specific to fashion models. Statuesque, high cheekbones, etc. Again, not the fault of the performers, but a weird choice by the casting director.
Ok, back to the plot of Doom: Annihilation.
Amy Manson, whose character name is “Joan Dark”, enters the dining room and the rest of the crew get awkward and walk out. This will sort of be explained near the film’s climax in a way that I have just so many questions about, but we’ll get there. For now, just know that this will completely be forgotten about and the crew will in no way react weirdly to her ever again until that time.
Alright, hold up, so I have to go off on another quick tangent. I said her name is “Joan Dark”. I thought this was a sly reference to another classic FPS game, Perfect Dark, whose main character is named “Joanna Dark”. That’s possible. There’s a reference to a dead soldier at one point whose name is “Sergeant Blazgowich” which is suspiciously close to Wolfenstein‘s protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz. But the Wikipedia entry for this movie (which I consulted in a futile attempt to get a handle on the film’s budget) states that the writer/director Tony Giglio (Soccer Dog) drew inspiration for her character from Terminator, Alien, and Joan of Arc. Whose name in her native French is, of course, Joan D’Arc.
Sorry, back to Doom: Annihilation.
So space marine squad get orders to take scientist/love interest–whose name I don’t remember so we’ll call him Dr. Love–to the Mars moon Phobos for reasons. We get a couple of attempts at character development that include the squad’s captain saying this is his last mission before he retires to be with his family. I’ll give you one guess as to whether or not he makes it out of the movie alive.
Cut back to the scientists’ sciencing and their boss on Phobos is all mad sciencey, saying he’s going to test the portal on himself. This goes as well as you’d imagine and the facility gets locked down just as the space marines arrive.
Space marines go into facility and havoc ensues. They get attacked by zombified scientists who kill them by knocking them down and chomping on their necks. Every. Single. Time. There are some great missed opportunities like when one jumps on Dude Space Marine #4’s shoulders and looks like he might rip his spine out but nope, throw to ground and neck chomp. A zombie jabs a hand into Lady Space Marine #2’s torso and you think he might rip out her liver but nope, throw to ground and neck chomp.
I have to say that the lack of gore and creative kills was disappointing, especially for a movie based on Doom, a game that has always reveled in ultra-violence. There was a move in the last game where you grabbed the enemies by the skull and ripped them in half with your bare hands, for Baal’s sake!
So space marines rescue a few scientists–including Mad Science Boss– and bring them back to the ship. By this time not-Kevin Pollak, who was staying with the ship, has been killed by an Imp and the ship’s been taken over. Yada yada, the team somehow gets to some sort of reactor and Mad Science Boss reveals to them that he’s evil and monologues. During the monologue, he reveals that Lieutenant Joan Dark was on trial for something or other (this one isn’t me forgetting, the movie literally doesn’t say it until later and even then it’s some vague “letting a terrorist escape” thing). We find out that her entire squad testified against her (hence the awkward exit from the dining room earlier, I guess?). This in no way affects anything moving forward.
One more quick tangent to express how stupid this plot point it. Whatever happened to land her in a whatever vaguely defined hearing she was in, her entire squad blamed her. It’s even revealed that her Captain accused her of treason. For those who don’t know, treason (aka being a traitor to your country) is one of the absolute highest crimes anyone–much less a member of the military–can be accused of. Not just in our legal system, but in humanity as a whole. Dante put traitors in the ninth (aka worst) circle of Hell in Inferno. For reference, murderers were confined to the seventh circle. So Joan Dark’s entire squad–including her superior officer–gave damning testimony against her and not only did she not lose her commission, she’s still with the same unit! And, once again, this plot point in no way affects anyone (aside from the dining room walkout) before or after this.
This plot summary is taking too long–especially for a direct-to-video Doom flick–so we’ll finish with everyone but Joan gets murdered, Joan goes to the Hell dimension, explodes some grenades, and comes out of a portal in Nevada. She tells the scientists to shut down the project. They don’t believe her because they’re bad scientists who’ve also never seen a movie and somehow don’t realize all of their coworkers on Phobos are dead despite multiple transmissions and distress calls being explicitly shown throughout the movie. So they tranquilize her and the last thing she (and we) see is the portal starting to activate again, presumably about to send Hell demons to Earth.
I’m actually a little surprised by how much vitriol I’ve express in my plot summary. I enjoyed the movie well enough while watching it. But it was pretty bland. There wasn’t enough gore or scares. None of the characters were particularly interesting. And, despite Doom having an amazing cast of monsters, the movie only showed two (two and a half if you count the master demon thing at the end).
The movie actually looked pretty good. The design of the Imps was excellent. The performances were as good as they could have been with the material the actors were given. There just wasn’t anything compelling to note. No real meat on the bones.
Verdict: Doom: Annihilation is fine. It’s a great first draft of a movie. I just wish someone had cared enough to make it great.
- Looks good
- Doesn't offend the sensibilities
- Decent performances
- Poorly Written