I’ve been a fan of the Doom franchise ever since it was released back in the day. Like most fans, I was severely let down by the 2005 film, as even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson couldn’t save it from being a complete trainwreck. Now we come to another film adaptation of the game series in Doom: Annihilation, a budget-friendly adaptation that has nothing to do with the previous movie (thank goodness) and is clearly designed to get fans pumped for the upcoming DOOM: Eternal sequel. It’s not the best, but there’s enough cheap sci-fi action and Easter eggs to keep you watching this doomed production.
The plot follows Lt. Joan Dark (Amy Manson) and her team of UAC soldiers as they head to a base on Phobos, Mars’ moon when communication goes silent by a scientific team there and they learn the power is dangerously low which can lead to the fusion reactor exploding. Dr. Betruger (Dominic Mafham), one of the scientists there, has discovered an ancient portal that can travel anywhere in the universe (sounds like the Stargate film/TV show to me).
Naturally, the portal is actually a gateway to Hell, and it turns out Dr. Betruger has sent some people through only to come back as demons and monsters while also letting other creatures out. Now it’s up to Joan and her team to put a stop to this madness before the base and Earth are destroyed. The central story of Doom has always been simple and doesn’t need to be complicated, and, thankfully, that’s the case here.
I didn’t have any kind of expectations going in, so I was able to enjoy this film for what it is: a cheap sci-fi action movie that would’ve been better off not using the Doom name. If anything, they should’ve tried to make it be titled something that plays off the Alien franchise instead, as you can clearly tell that’s what they were going for with the strong female lead character (which Manson plays surprisingly well), to the monsters coming from dark, cramped spaces.
Sadly, as with the 2005 movie, we still don’t have our beloved Doom Marine here, as though it’s difficult to get someone to play him or make the costume work without giggling. The special effects were surprisingly good and most likely where most of the film’s budget went, as everything else we see onscreen from the costumes, props, and filming locations look like something from a cosplay sketch uploaded to YouTube.
The only time my eyes (and attention) really lit up was when the Easter eggs started making their eventual appearance, such as the people using the infamous colored keys for the doors, a dead scientist they find with the name John Carmack, the name William Blazkowicz appearing on a list of dead soldiers, and of course the beloved BFG made me smile and chuckle.
Fans of the game series will want to take a look at Doom: Annihilation, if anything just to say they saw it. The iconic Doom Marine is still MIA, and the movie looks and feels like it was made for Doom cosplay event (most likely due to id Software/Bethesda having nothing to do with this production). But the decent special effects, lead character, and various Easter eggs sprinkled throughout make this doomed film just enough fun to sit through. Here’s hoping that DOOM: Eternal can quench our hellish lust even more when it’s released later this year.