DOOM “Thanks for letting us borrow these kneepads, Vince McMahon!”

dir. Bartkowiak
Opens Fri Oct 21
Various Theaters

There are few things in cinema more tortured than videogame adaptations, of which Doom is the latest. There's the infamously bad Super Mario Bros., and Double Dragon, and Jean-Claude Van Damme's Street Fighter. There're the Mortal Kombats and Tomb Raiders and Resident Evils, and the hilariously inept attempts by German director Uwe Boll to bring House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark to the screen. All, without exception, are horrible.

Quite honestly, Doom—which stars wrestling cartoon the Rock and Lord of the Rings refugee Karl Urban—isn't all that bad, for what it is. But what it is ain't much. (It's a backhanded, feeble compliment to crown Doom as the best videogame adaptation thus far.) Doom is about shooting monsters, loud noises, and explosions, all things that are here in great quantities—as are retarded plot developments and a near-fetishistic appreciation for firearms. (One subtle item—the B.F.G., short for "big fucking gun"—has a more nuanced role than most of the film's characters.)

But unlike previous videogame movies, Doom is proud of its pixilated genesis. There's even an all-too-brief scene that plays out in the first-person perspective of the Doom games—gun in the lower right corner of the screen, monsters jumping towards the camera—that, quite surprisingly, turns the film into a rather effective and enjoyable dark comedy. But that's only for three or four minutes; the rest of the time, it's easy to tune out and wonder if the fact that Peter Jackson is producing the upcoming Halo adaptation will end the stream of shitty videogame movies. But then one realizes that the Rock's going to be in yet another one next year, Spy Hunter, so it's probably safe to assume that—for at least a while longer—videogame movies will remain as they are, and as they have been: as loud, ugly, and stupid as Doom's countless shuffling monsters.