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Film Review: Doom Annihilation (2019)

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SYNOPSIS:

Follows a group of UAC Marines as they respond to a distress call from a top secret scientific base on Phobos, a Martian moon, only to discover it’s been overrun by demons who threaten to create Hell on Earth.

REVIEW:

If a film tries to outwit its audience by owning up to its cinematic pilfering, does that absolve it of most of its sins? That’s the question that greets you about partway through Doom: Annihilation when a space marine – doesn’t matter which one, they’re all meaningless fodder – points out that their rescue mission on Mars’ largest satellite, Phobos, is an awful lot like that James Cameron classic, Aliens. They’re not wrong, but it’s going to take an awful lot more self-awareness to dig this VOD title out of the mire.

Based on the popular game franchise and having nothing to do with that movie starring the Rock, Amy Manson (Torchwood, Being Human) plays Lt. Joan Dark, one member of an elite platoon of space soldiers from Earth. Alternatively, Marines, if you prefer. Joan and her motley crew, which includes ex-boyfriend and scientist Bennett (Luke Allan-Gale, Monroe), are sent to protect a top-secret experiment, being led by Dr Betruger (Lewis), on the aforementioned Phobos.

Betruger, himself, is fiddling around with science in a way only people who don’t understand the value of human life do. Having discovered ancient teleporters known as Gates, Betruger wants to harness their power for the benefit of humanity. Presumably. Honestly, do you care? You came to watch a film called Doom: Annihilation.

Betruger’s experiment quickly goes awry, leaving Joan and her party of interchangeable meat sacks at the mercy of an army of demons and zombies who are running riot through the Phobos base. And by running, I mean shuffling. And by army, I mean three stuntmen – two zombies and one demon – running at them every ten minutes. This is certainly not the high budgeted interpretation that came out back in 2005. Not that that one was blowing off anyone’s socks when it came out but stacked up against this House of the Dead (in space) joy void, it works a hell of a lot better.

Now, admittedly, Doom: Annihilation is certainly more intone with its source material than the film which saw Dexter Fletcher walking around with CGI legs. Fans of the franchise will appreciate the various nods and cues from their favorite first-person shooter. Red and yellow keys, references to Wolfenstein and even the good old BFG 3000 all make an appearance to give you the impression that someone somewhere actually cared about this beloved series of games.

However, like the acknowledgement of Aliens earlier, all these references don’t suggest that Doom: Annihilation is any fun. It’s a shame to report that a movie, based on a game where you can don brass knuckles and punch a floating, burning head in its skeletal face, is pretty vanilla. Yes, the budget is low, but that’s not the issue. It lacks any real scares, action, or gore. It also feels painfully slow for a film that’s a little over 80 minutes. More was done in the 2005 version’s first-person shoot out scene than anything that plays out here. It’s hard even to recommend this as comfortable trash.

Doom: Annihilation feels like Universal were thiiiiis close to losing the rights to the franchise. And so, like Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four, they commissioned a film, threw hundreds of dollars at director Tony Giglo (Soccer Dog: The Movie) and hoped for the best. Unlike Corman’s F4, which was never meant to see the light of day, Doom: Annihilation was unleashed on the planet and may God have mercy on our souls.

So, let’s go back to my original question: If a film tries to outwit its audience by owning up to its cinematic pilfering, does that absolve it of most of its sins?

Absolutely not.

Doom: Annihilation will appeal to someone out there and more power to them. For everyone else, including the film’s own cast and crew, this is a colossal waste of time and almost makes you reevaluate your opinions on Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Kidding, MK: A will always be trash.

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