BFG (Bogus Financial Grab)

Per Doom lore, there’s a scientific base on Mars’ moon Phobos. It’s one of those sci-fi places where smart people do dumb things like tinker with ancient Sumerian wormholes. People start to die. A lot.

In fairness to this movie’s creative team, Doom, in its original videogame form, doesn’t offer much to go on. An unnamed Marine is sucked into hell and shoots a bunch of stuff, while vague fears of then current Middle Eastern wars play out. Later games dabbled more in the corporate side; in 2016, that spawned the great (and plainly named) Doom, where religion and science mixed in a bad idea bubble ready to pop.

The latter is where Doom: Annihilation comes from. A little, anyway. It’s more steel and tech than 1993’s rocky and organic aesthetic. Lead Marine Joan Dark – that in itself a reference to an entirely different videogame – lost her religious belief years ago, and now must stare down a literal manifestation of hell. Phobos’ Chaplain reignites her belief, but this is Doom and ultimate decider is still a gun.

Doom: Annihilation’s first hour limps toward any significant action

Really, Doom, and by automatic extension, Doom: Annihilation, is pure Americana. It’s a place where trained Marines take assault rifles into hell and win – consider the sheer absurdity, as if the guns were imbued with the power of Jesus or something. Aside from a few quips, Doom: Annihilation plays this all straight.

Oh, and it’s terrible. That’s important to note. Doom: Annihilation’s first hour limps toward any significant action, and when dialog finally breaks, it’s into battle against generic zombies. The repetition hits fast. Archetype military dudes and corporate apologists do not a story make. Dark’s own problems prove fleeting.

In the last hour, there’s a little energy. Demons appear, jutting out from the tiny budget and scope to at least look cool. That’s all Doom-esque, whereas the rest fits any soldiers-versus-zombie DTV dud.

Getting through Doom: Annihilation does have a reward: the final few minutes send Dark to literal hell where visuals finally have an identity, the cinematic staging carries fragments of awe, and there’s a wonder if this wasn’t the intent for the whole movie were the money there. Instead, it’s a lot of nothing, and to note totally disconnected from the 2005 Doom movie with The Rock. Other than a direct rip-off of a scene when Dark finds the BFG, Doom: Annihilation goes its own way, but does nothing with the privilege.

Video

A few fights against noise aside, Doom: Annihilation’s clean but pedestrian video translates to Blu-ray well. Budget restrictions keep cinematography plain, lacking any style, meaning detail is free to show through. Sharpness maintains steady consistency and even when dealing with fast cross-cutting, picking up on the practical effects work is still possible.

Moderate saturation pushes a little life into flesh tones. Chunks of Doom: Annihilation filter through blues for mood, draining primaries; that’s clearly intent.

While some shadows fall well below true black, the majority pushes stable, rich depth. Black suits and black guns usually sink into black crush, but not here. It’s impressive at keeping dimension, even in the darkest areas. For such a morbid story, Doom: Annihilation holds a lot of visual pep.

Audio

Potent low-end support gives guns a nice kick, this behind a brooding score that likewise digs in. Ship engines and warp portals pop the subwoofer with beefy jolts, pushing unexpectedly wide range.

While only 5.1, the DTS-HD soundstage tracks gunfire well. Monsters sneak up on victims, growling in rears before their strike. Ambiance doesn’t sustain during dialog-heavy sequences, saving the best stuff for when action picks up. That’s more on the DTV budget than anything else.

Extras

Nothing.

Doom: Annihilation
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Mostly a tepid, B-grade zombie dud, Doom: Annihilation falls apart fast, almost (but only almost) saving itself in the final few minutes.

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