Doom: Annihilation (2019) Movie Review

Doom: Annihilation is a 2019 American science fiction film written and directed by Tony Giglio. It is a reboot based on id Software’s Doom franchise and is the second live-action film adaptation of the franchise, after the 2005 film. The film stars Amy Manson, Dominic Mafham, Luke Allen-Gale, and Nina Bergman. In the film, Marines battle demons in a facility on Phobos, who have emerged from an ancient teleportation device known as “Gates.”

Giglio pitched to Universal his idea for a new film in 2015 but initially declined. The success of the 2016 video game convinced Universal to proceed and commission a script from Giglio. The project was announced in April 2018, with principal photography commencing soon afterwards and ending in June 2018, with additional photography following in early 2019. Doom: Annihilation was released direct-to-video on October 1, 2019 to negative reviews, with criticisms aimed at the plot, characters, low-production values, and unoriginality.

Plot

On a United Aerospace Corporation (UAC) base on Phobos, Dr. Betruger prepares to teleport a volunteer from Phobos to a UAC lab in Nevada by using ancient teleporters known as “Gates.” The experiment proves successful, however, the subject emerges partially deformed. On a UAC transport vessel, a group of Marines awaken from cryosleep. They are on a mission to guard the Phobos base. Amongst them is Joan Dark, a disgraced lieutenant they are reluctant to work with. Joining them is Bennett Stone, a scientist and ex-boyfriend of Joan. Against Dr. Kahn’s wishes, Betruger prepares to teleport himself to the Nevada base. After preparations by Veronica, Betruger passes through the Gate. However, the Phobos base suddenly goes offline as monsters emerge from the Gate.

Unable to communicate with or enter the base, the Marines receive orders to investigate and restore power. They enter via the emergency entrance and Bennett discovers that the reserve power has been drained to two percent, granting them 90 minutes before the fusion reactor explodes. The Marines are then attacked by UAC staff who have been turned into zombie-like creatures. During the attack, the Marines find three survivors: Betruger, Veronica, and the base’s Chaplain, Glover. Betruger reveals that the UAC has been studying the Gates for 30 years in order to colonize planets. It is believed that the Gates were left by an ancient alien race while Glover believes them to be demons. Against Betruger’s wishes, Joan orders the remaining Marines and survivors to evacuate the base.

Upon returning to the transport, the crew are attacked by Imp-like demons, killing several Marines, including Glover. With the transport disabled, Joan agrees to Betruger’s plan to restore power to use the Gate to teleport the survivors to the Nevada base, however, she reveals to Bennett that her agreement was a ruse to restore communications. As Bennett restores the base’s power, Betruger reveals that Joan was disgraced for allowing a terrorist to go free due to poor judgement. Betruger then kills Veronica, and seals the Marines in the power server, who are then attacked by Imps. With only Joan and Bennett left standing, they plan to stop Betruger from activating the Gate.

After Joan acquires the BFG 9000, Bennett is attacked by an Imp. As Joan shoots her way to the Gate chamber, she is attacked by a zombified Bennett, forcing her to kill him. Joan then shoots Betruger, who resurrects immediately and pushes Joan into the Gate. Joan is teleported to hell, where she encounters a horde of Imps and the demon overlord. The overlord reveals that they plan to reclaim the Earth and annihilate humanity. She shoots the overlord and blasts the horde with BFG grenades as she makes her way back to the Gate. She is then teleported to the Nevada base and demands that the Gate be shut down. She is apprehended and sedated by security. Before losing consciousness, the Gate begins to reactivate. Dr. Kahn believes it to be Betruger coming through. As the film cuts to black, a growl is heard.

My Personal Thoughts

Ah, DOOM: ANNIHILATION. As a guy that is basically forced to watch each and every horror movie that comes out nowadays, I have to appreciate when a flick knows exactly what its place in the world is and goes to great lengths to celebrate and embrace said place with bloody and brutal delight. And I’m pleased to say that DEATH RACE 4: BEYOND ANARCHY writer Tony Giglio’s new DOOM: ANNIHILATION (GET IT HERE) is not only better than that Karl Urban / The Rock DOOM from back in the day, but it’s just what you’re looking for in a straight-to-video DOOM film. For better or worse. 

Not that we need to, but all the same let’s get into the movie’s plot a bit for the one guy out there that doesn’t know what DOOM is about. The tale unfolds around a base out in the middle of the stars were a group of scientists are trying to open a portal to another world. Things don’t go as planned (or do they?) and the base is quickly overrun by all the powers of hell itself. It’s then up to a rag-tag group of space marines straight out of an ALIENS rip-off to bust into the base and start cracking possessed skulls. As you might imagine, though, this is not a movie about the plot. So let’s just move on.

Rated R for bloody violence and language throughout, I can assure you that this rating holds up. The film starts a bit slow (character development and whatnot) but once the demonic sh*t hits the intergalactic fan it’s non-stop blood, bullets, and possessed brains from there on out. That said if there is one major drawback to this film its that it doesn’t quite feel like an adaptation of the video game series. Well, at least not this particular video game series. Truth be told this take on the material seems to have more in line with one of Paul W.S. Anderson’s RESIDENT EVIL movies. But, you know, in space! This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just needed to be spat. The good guys in this Doom adaptation are much more likely to go up against hordes of zombies (I mean possessed scientists) than, you know, actual demons. That said, there are a handful of demons in the film – eventually. 

Moving on to the cast. The thespians on hand here do their jobs and that’s about it. Sometimes in these lower-budget Universal 1440 Entertainment offerings, the acting is the most atrocious thing about them. Not so here. Sure no one is going to be taking home the gold for their role in this movie, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The script tries to give some of the characters such as Amy Manson (ATLANTIS) and James Weber Brown (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION) a bit of depth and backstory but in the end none of that matters much as – as I mentioned above – once the soldiers get to their destination and the resident evil makes itself known, the movie is basically just one big and bloody action sequence from that point on. Which is fine by me. And while we’re here and discussing the film’s cast, in a fun bit of trivia for all of you fellow JEEPERS CREEPERS fans out there, the voice of the mother ship in this flick, dubbed ‘Daisy’ is voiced by none other than Gina Philips. The more you know, right?

In the end, DOOM ANNIHILATION is everything you’d want from a straight-to-video adaptation of DOOM. It’s fast, bloody as hell, and keeps the action coming nearly non-stop. It’s better than the 2005 version – if only a little – but that little bit makes the whole bloody affair at least watchable. So if you were excited by the prospect of another hard-R adaptation of the ever-popular DOOM franchise, this is the movie I think you were hoping to see. Sure fans of the games will no doubt be let down by most of the film’s running time, but by the time the final act rolls around and the BFG comes out of hiding, I think even fans of the game will be having a ball. Plus, make sure to keep your eyes out for easter eggs regarding not only the Doom series but other classic first-person shooters such as Wolfenstein. To be sure, this is not Academy Award-winning stuff here. Far from it. But if you dig what Universal 1440 Entertainment puts out, then you’ll love this movie as it’s one of their most entertaining. 

Directed byTony Giglio
Produced by Jeffery Beach Phillip J. Roth Ogden Gavanski
Screenplay byTony Giglio
Based onDoom
by id Software
Starring Amy Manson Dominic Mafham Luke Allen-Gale Nina Bergman
Music byFrederik Wiedmann
CinematographyAlexander Krumov
Edited byPeter Mergus
Production
company
Universal 1440 Entertainment
Distributed byUniversal Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date October 1, 2019
Running time96 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

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