The year is 2046, and it is twenty years since the discovery of a portal in the Nevada Desert which, if entered, propelled you to a lost city on Mars - and would take you back as well, if that was your wish. But just as scientists endeavour to make sense of this new location, actually a very old one as far as they can work out, the near-hundred strong team are struck with a panic as something seems to be attacking their numbers, and back on Earth decisions must be made to help, and fast. To that end, a troop of Marines about to go on leave are abruptly reassigned to Mars, and their impressive arsenal pressed into service against a menace that may be alien - or from closer to home.
Computer game movies, that always goes well, doesn't it? Well, no, it's more accurate to observe it hardly ever goes well, and indeed frequently goes very stupid, but this is down to gaming and movie watching being very different beasts, no matter how alike the studios who collaborate to create the hybrids of the two would like you to believe. It was not so important how as they evolved, the narrative became key in gaming, since in film you were having a passive experience, and in games you were an active participant. Therefore yet again, the adaptation of the popular nineteen-nineties shoot-'em-up Doom proved to appeal to hardly anyone at the box office, and flopped as a result.
The trouble with that was thanks to certain aspects such as the plot in the game being elementary, merely an excuse to gain ever-increasing amounts of weaponry and slaughter ever-growing numbers of monsters with it, whereas for the film they had to make up some desperately basic rubbish about Mars and genetic experimentation for the basis of their narrative. Fair enough, this would have been about as simple as necessary for a version of Doom on the P.C., but as a film it was deadening in its lack of imagination, and when it tried to be clever, which thankfully was not too often, it came across as stupider, not smarter, and besides, there was one key aspect of the gameplay missing.
If you played Doom, the most striking element, one which was something of a pioneer in its way, was that first-person perspective, so you would see through the hero's eyes and point whatever weapon you had to hand in the appropriate direction. Now, a whole movie like that would have been something to witness, and justify the existence of this thing, as seen a few years later in the sounds-daft-but-is-actually-bright Hardcore Henry. Alas, cinematographer turned director Andrzej Bartkowiak was not allowed, or was reluctant, to make the entire project in that fashion, so what you got was a meagre five-minute interval near the end where our protagonist John Grimm (Karl Urban) finally got up to what you really wanted to see in a Doom movie, and it was by far the best bit of the film.
But set that aside, and it was a long wait till that part, and you had a very ordinary rip-off of James Cameron's Aliens with some very samey visuals gracing a barely there storyline. The cast had points of interest, for instance Dwayne Johnson when he was still billed as The Rock was the leader of the marines, and the role turned out to be well within his range as he hardly had to act at all. Rosamund Pike, then in the early stages of her screen career after honing her skills in the theatre, was merely called upon to explain the jargon and scream, as the scientist sister of Grimm, oh, and be subjected to some sexual harassment too (a spot of banter, supposedly). Richard Brake had something approaching a personality, but it was a putrid one he was asked to portray, so he was blatantly not long for the world once the soldiers jaunted to The Red Planet, and everyone else was anonymous aside from Dexter Fletcher in a "how is he still alive?" wheelchair. Yet another Mars movie that failed, before The Martian happened along. Music by Clint Mansell.