03rd Oct2019

‘Doom: Annihilation’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Amy Manson, Nina Bergman, Kate Nichols, Louis Mandylor, Gina Philips, Jemma Moore, Lorina Kamburova, Katrina Nare, Dominic Mafham, Luke Allen-Gale, Amer Chadha-Patel, Hari Dhillon, Chidi Ajufo, James Weber Brown, Clayton Adams | Written and Directed by Tony Giglio

doom-annihilation-blu

In case you’re wondering, before I start this review let me say, this IS Doom… All the aspects of the classic iD Software title are present and correct: from the transporting gates to the coloured keycards, from the weapons to the set/level design (with a brilliant nod to the intermission screen from the first game early on in the film), it’s all here in what can only be described as one of the most faithful video game adaptations to have ever been produced… Though there has been one liberty taken with the Doom franchise – this films “Doom guy” is actually a Doom girl, in the form of actress Amy Manson’s character Lieutenant Joan Dark

Doom: Annihilation sees a group of scientists discovering an ancient portal, on the darkest moon of Mars, which allows teleportation throughout the universe. Considered to be mankind’s greatest discovery, it’s actually a gateway from hell, unleashing a swarm of demons looking to steal the souls of everyone who gets in their way. It’s up to Dark and an elite unit of UAC Marines to destroy an ever-growing horde of bloodsucking and soul-stealing beasts and prevent them from taking over planet Earth.

But that plot is really little more than a device on which to hang a badass action movie that offers plenty of fan service for devotees of the original two video games (yes, the old-school pixel-filled FPS games that essentially gave birth to an entire genre of gaming) but also harkens back to other sci-fi classics, in particular Alien. For like that film we have a bunch of soldiers woken up from cryo-sleep, dropped into a situation they’re not prepared for, lead by a kick-ass heroine who – in the closing moments of the film – takes on this movies “big bad” just like Sigourney Weaver did in Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic. Hell, one of the characters in Doom: Annihilation even acknowledges how much like that other sci-fi franchise their current situation is!

This time round Universal’s 1440 Entertainment shingle, responsible for many a direct to DVD sequel, including the Scorpion King and Sniper franchises, have been tasked with not making a sequel to the much-maligned original Doom film (you know, the one starring Dwayne Johnson and featuring a ridiculous first-person sequence) but rather REBOOTING the franchise in a much closer fashion to the games themselves. So who do you give such a task to? Well if you know anything about Universal 1440 there’s only one guy, IMHO, who can successfully reboot/retool a franchise on a budget… Tony Giglio.

One of my favourite writer/directors, Tony Giglio previously directed the superb slasher Timber Falls and the “as good as The Raid and Dredd” (at least IMHO) actioner Extraction; and who also penned a couple of the Death Race sequels for Universal 1440 too – and we all know how well those films turned out! This time Giglio is also handed the directorial reigns; only the fourth time in his career that he has both written and directed a movie. Something that, given my love for his screenwriting work, seems somewhat unbelievable.

So we have a writer/director experienced with low-budget genre cinema, who has worked with rebooting franchises before, and whose remit is to make a film closer to the content and the spirit of the video games. And I’d say on ALL counts Giglio has knocked this one out of the park!

Where this film succeeds over the original Doom movie is that Giglio brings the horror elements of the video game franchise into his film, blending the sci-fi story with the tropes of the haunted house, by way of both zombie AND monster movie. And unlike the first Doom film, his heroes are flawed and therefore the horror comes through them, the audience fears for them as much as they fear for their own lives. Plus this film has some truly tremendous monster designs, especially considering the budget this was made with. If you’re a fan of the games you’ll really get a kick out of Doom: Annihilation’s action sequences in particular – which sees characters using all the weapons you can in the game, including a BFG and chainsaws; and the films monsters throwing fireballs at our heroes too!

A brilliant adaptation of a brilliant video game, Doom: Annihilation is out now on DVD and Blu-ray in the US. The UK home video debut is set for October 28th 2019.

**** 4/5

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3 Responses to “‘Doom: Annihilation’ Review”

  • Kevin

    I am so confused. Your review and score doesn’t match with the IMDB’s reviews and scores, like at all.

    • Phil Wheat

      So someone actually liking this film confuses you? We all have personal tastes… Why not watch the film and see if you like it for yourself?

    • George Mallow

      Internet trolls exist. Many of the IMDB votes are from people who haven’t seen the film but wish to troll. This is why many websites are doing away with voting and comment sections. IMDB already eliminated comments.