DOOM: ANNIHILATION (2019)

Doom - Annihilation.jpg

Studio:      Universal Home Entertainment
Director:    Tony Giglio
Writer:      Tony Giglio
Producer:  Jeffery Beach, Phillip Roth, Ogden Gavanski
Stars:     Amy Manson, Dominic Mafham, Luke Allen-Gale, Louis Mandylor, Clayton Adams, James Weber Brown, Jemma Moore, Gavin Brocker, Nina Bergman, Arkie Reece, Cassidy Little

Review Score:

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Summary:

A team of UAC Marines sent to investigate a Martian moon base confronts Hellish creatures summoned through an ancient portal.


Synopsis:     

Review:

Semi-honest questions incoming. How “good” should anyone realistically expect “Doom: Annihilation,” a DTV movie definitely based on the video game franchise and maybe meant as a sidetrack sequel to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s 2005 flick, to actually be? Would it aid your expectations any to know it was filmed on the cheap, shot in Bulgaria, and doesn’t star a single person you’ve heard of? How far down do we lower the bar now?

You know you’re in for a corner-cutting experience when only one minute into the movie, you’re greeted by a title card that misspells the lead actress’ name. Poor Amy Manson, or Amy Mason if you go by how the opening sequence credits her. She possesses onscreen appeal akin to a clear glass of room temperature tap water, making her character Joan Dark (one of several references to FPS games that aren’t “Doom”) about as milquetoast as outer space heroines get. Adding a scalp scratch on top of a yawn, Manson’s inability to fully mask her Scottish accent also makes her sound faintly Transylvanian.

Joan belongs to a team of Marines on their way to a Martian moon base overrun by demons after a teleportation experiment went awry. Joan comes with some afterthought backstory involving her mother’s untimely death, a very brief fling with a scientist aboard her ship, and being ostracized by the crew since her failure to follow orders banished them to space in the first place. These pieces are perfunctory to the point of inspiring laughs during the rare instances when they boomerang back into the plot. It’s kind of cute how “Doom: Annihilation” goes through the motions of standard screenplay structure. Yet its ultimate disinterest remains so obvious, you find yourself snickering, “they’re still trying to make this shoehorned side story relevant?” whenever one of these things comes up again.

“Doom: Annihilation” can be described with a lot of “looks like” assessments. Nathan Cooper, who plays a hapless scientist horribly transformed in the first scene, looks so much like Lance Guest, it’d be a sin to remake “The Last Starfighter” or “Halloween II” and not have a role for him. One of many props and effects hamstrung by a B-movie budget, the CGI goo animated whenever a transport pad activates looks like a gelatin mess of Fruit Roll-Up slop barfed up by a dog.

Often I liken movies with the made-for-TV texture of “Doom: Annihilation” to a Syfy original, which isn’t at all off the mark. Yet “Doom: Annihilation” looks more like an immersive activation you find at special events such as Comic-Con. As in, it passes for vaguely professional provided your imagination ignores the visible seams and part-time performers cosplaying as characters from the project being promoted. Several sets appear to be nothing more than a large factory’s maintenance room. Others are cramped soundstages straining to laughably look like a high-tech laboratory.

Action isn’t exactly spectacular. Demons and fire imps hide offscreen for a full third of the film. Once intensity amps up, stunts stay limited to a few somersaults, wrestling moves, and one guy ascending a ladder. Most of the monster mayhem is merely mutated men and women, who look and act more like zombified Umbrella scientists from “Resident Evil” than they do “Doom” creatures, racing around in a senseless flurry of muzzle flashes and bullet squibs.

Writer/director Tony Giglio does work in a few good nods to the correct game however. The movie may not emulate “Doom’s” mood in many areas, but it does include key cards, a chainsaw, exploding barrels, even an amusing little wink at “Wolfenstein” hero B.J. Blazkowicz.

I definitely don’t recommend “Doom: Annihilation.” But I can’t in good conscience rate it too negatively because, well, if you’re anticipating anything above what an average VOD quickie is capable of delivering, it’s kind of on you for setting that aforementioned bar higher than an ankle. “Doom: Annihilation” provides exactly what should be expected of a film whose crewmembers all have last names ending in “v” and whose most profound line of dialogue is, “in order to fight the enemy, you’ve got to stop fighting yourself.”

Come to think of it, you’d better put that quality bar all the way down to your toes.

Review Score: 50