Blu Ray Title: Doom - Unrated Extended Edition
Disk Release Date: 2/10/2009
Rated: Unrated (Theatrical R rated edition is sadly NOT on this disk via seamless branching
Screen format: 1080P High definition widescreen 2.35:1
First theatrical release: 21 October, 2005
Previous releases on disk: Unrated Extended DVD on 02/07/06 and Unrated Extended HD DVD on 3/25/06
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Raz Adoti
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 Hour 53 minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Note: Portions of this review are from my unpublished review of the Unrated Extended DVD. That review was the one I submitted to HTF and which earned me a spot on the review crew. I was not provided a review copy of the HD-DVD in time to put out a full review but I did eventually get a copy and do remember watching it and being mildly impressed with the upgrades. This BluRay meets or exceeds that on all fronts.
The name Doom is nearly synonymous with hard core computer action gaming, and for good reason. Id Software, or id as they prefer to write it, defined the first generation of first person shooter (FPS) with Castle Wolfenstein 3D, brought it to hell and back in Doom, and then brought it into true 3D with Quake and beyond. The 'plot' of the original Doom was purposefully sparse and that did not change much as the series has progressed.
First the good news. The acting isn't horrible. While it was originally rumored that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be featured in a small role or even just a cameo, he is a big part of this movie and overplays the role of Sarge with typical action hero gusto. Karl Urban's moody, haunted Reaper gets a bit more to chew on and you can see his growth from earlier role as Eomer in The Lord of the Rings series. Rosamund Pike features as Reapers semi-estranged sister Dr. Samantha Grimm, a convenient focus for the rest of the ensemble cast's affections.
Additionally, for a movie about a game with a plot-line thinner than string cheese, Doom's rendering of a story could have been far worse. Scientists on Mars muck with genetics, monster zombies emerge, infest mars and turn their sights on earth, good guys head to mars to investigate and kick ass. Yadda yadda, when does stuff blow up?
Fortunately the blowing stuff up factor is in high gear. A mix of zombies, genetically altered animals, demons, hell knights and other well known Doom creepy-crawlies will each get their turn to inflict havoc on the station crew and the marine rescue squad, and then meet their own grisly end at the business end of chainsaws, high powered weaponry, and even the granddaddy of them all, the legendary BFG, or Big F^$#ing Gun.
Effects shots range from the solid but subtle Arc (which allows interplanetary travel) to the over the top action sequence in which we the audience take on the perspective of Reaper in a First Person Shooter role. This memorable sequence is perhaps the best reason to see Doom, and will be remembered not only by fans of the gaming genre but is likely to be imitated in computer gaming related features in the future. While not a splatterfest of gore, there are satisfying amounts of carnage caused to and by marines and zombies alike.
If there is one major fault in Doom, it is that they didn't quit while they were ahead. A drawn out head to head battle better left to the likes of Blade is intended as the ultimate showdown, and yet feels flat and contrived after the excellent FPS sequence. Nonetheless, Doom is a solid outing when viewed in the 'movies based on a video game' genre, and holds up well in the action sci-fi genre it rightly falls in, regardless of original license. Viewed from a cynical gamer's expectations, Doom comes out having broken new ground and put on a good show doing so.
Unrated Extended Edition notes: Having seen the theatrical release of Doom in a well geared theater, it was gratifying to see how well first the DVD and now this BluRay holds up on my home system. Featuring deep fields of black within industrial/scientific interiors Doom asks every bit of contrast your system is capable of. While I'm not certain I would use this as a color reference disk due to the naturally muted palette, I have shown off the FPS sequence to quite a few friends, as it is humorous, gripping and unique. Likewise the sound effects from the many firefights are well produced and memorable. The techno/guitar rifts from the soundtrack are perhaps the surprise find of this movie, as they complement the action nicely and echo back to the classic but technically limited tracks the accompanied the original game. Nice touch.
Also a nice touch are the scenes edited back in to this extended cut. Those that I could pick out as having been different from the original release added to the limited character development, specifically to the Marine grunts interaction with Dr. Grimm (Pike). A number of special segments are on the disks that go into detail on how scenes were developed and the combat training the cast received.
Sound Quality: 4.5/5
Doom features a surprisingly awesome soundtrack and an equally impressive surround mix, making the sound one of the highlights of the film itself and of this BluRay. On the soundtrack side Clint Mansell’s score echoes nicely the original game’s music while putting together a more full bodied rock/synth sound. It’s grungy and strong hard rock with a synth underscore and driving drums that holds attention with the pace of the action. Surround wise the nature of the corridor crawl that embodies Doom requires a tight and enveloping sound field and the mix here brings the action fully around the listener with quiet environmental echoes in the slower parts of the film and brings the full impact of gunfire, demon grunts and growls and the chatter of the team as they explore the outpost all with crystal clarity and smile inducing holosonic effect. Note also that this disk updates to a full uncompressed DTS encoding, so purists can rejoice in that.
Visual Quality: 4.5/5
By its nature Doom is a very dark film yet the visuals hold up quite nicely, with minimal grain and very sharp detail present even in close-ups. Even in scenes where red and blue filters are used significant shadow detail remains. Sharpness-wise this BluRay outdoes what I remember from the theatrical showing, and it’s been cleaned up nicely with not a single pop or scratch of damage. I did not notice any edge enhancement at all and found no evidence of Digital Noise Reduction to gain this sharpness edge. Overall it looks great and I was very impressed when I first popped it in and only continued to be impresssed as the film went on, especially with the FPS sequence.
Extra Features: 3.5/5
All of the previous HD DVD and DVD features appear to be intact here, no more or less and no silly conversions of static features into bogus u-control. Actually that’s not quite true, I believe the DVD actually had a demo of one of the Xbox Doom games on it and tis Bluray obviously does not support that. The biggest features are ‘Basic Training’ which goes in depth with the cast on the training they received in order to prepare for the film and an extended look at ‘The First Person Shooter Sequence’ which not only shows the sequence uncut but goes behind the scenes in the making of that groundbreaking chapter. Backing this up are ‘Rock On’ which talks with The Rock about his experience on this film and ‘Master Monster Makers’ which talks to the crew who were given the task of making Doom’s well know creatures new for the big screen. Finally there are two features directly related to the game itself, ‘Doom Nation’ which looks at the phenomenon of Doom and all it has achieved and the legion of games that have followed in its footsteps and ‘Game On!’ which provides hints on playing the actual game for newbies.
Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
I can’t tell you how many times I have read others who were not open to Doom’s premise call it a bad film, but I really did enjoy it the first time I saw it and that hasnt changed in consecutive viewings on DVD and now BluRay. And I don’t believe that it’s simply my experience with the game itself. I think that regardless of license Doom is a fun movie and the FPS sequence alone broke new ground. The Audio and Visual properties are top notch and there are few films that have nailed the claustrophobic confines as well as this one does Sonically.
Movies based on computer games do not have a positive history, as anyone who has seen www.uweboll.com would tell you. Early hype for Doom caused the FPS shooter community to hope that this would be the movie to break that curse, and while Doom did not receive any major accolades, I found it to be a fun action movie that does not feel too derivative or tired, despite mimicking the feel and flow of such classics as Alien, Aliens and Total Recall.
I think that when viewed in a proper theater without distractions it’s a good experience and I’m not ashamed to say it! Fans of FPS games will be especially well satisfied that this film well represented their genre of choice, and this BluRay edition brings home every bit of detail that I remembered from the theatrical experience and more.