Doom: Annihilation (An Average Review)

I’ve seen worse movies, but this still left me wishing i could have my 1h45m back.

Zach Prevost from Google Reviews, 2020

Doom: Annihilation has to be the best comedy movie since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It was a laugh-a-minute thrill ride that had everything I love in comedy: terrible dialogue, comedic action sequences, and fireballs. There was never a dull moment in this movie, where at least 40% of the run time is walking slowly through hallways. Doom takes everything that made its source material fun and created something even better: a comedy about boring space marines.

Remember when I said Doom was funny? In all actuality it is garbage. Doom: Annihilation is the product of people who seemingly liked the simplistic ideas from the source material, and decided they were equipped to make a feature length film. The plot is what you would expect from a Doom movie at this point. A ragtag group of marines embark on a routine mission providing security detail on a research base. The mission goes wrong when the marines discover that the base has been attacked by monstrous lifeforms and is at critical power levels. Through various sequences of dialogue, we discover that the base was actually designed to study an ancient teleportation device, capable of transferring anything between it, Earth, and wherever other teleporters may be. All of humanity depends on the competence of the soldiers in this lackluster plot to protect Earth from hellish monsters.

Pacing in this movie is god awful. Almost the entire movie is comprised of the same exact plotting of scenes, but with more or less story attached. Characters are shown traversing a hallway set as slowly as possible. Then they have plot advancing dialogue, or they have lame character development. This is then followed by confirmation of a plan and further walking down hallway sets. I swear there were three different instances in the run time where I had to check myself to make sure I was not watching the same scene over and over. While there is action starting from the midpoint, it seems to really take a back seat to the lame dialogue and bad story. At the point where the dialogue is more ingrained in my brain than the action in a Doom movie, I would say there is a problem.

Let’s talk about dialogue in this movie and why it doesn’t work. In the Doom video games that have come out recently, it is important to note that the “Doomguy” does NOT care for talking. He smashes and punches and fights monsters for the entirety of the game. We don’t need any backstory from his character because Doom is not supposed to be a character driven narrative; it’s simplistic game about fighting things. We don’t need a strange backstory about a mom that died of cancer, but we get it for the main character Joan Dark (Amy Manson). Honestly, as corny as it is, I would have preferred some hokey title card explaining the teleporter plot. Either that or have focused marines that don’t stop to exhaust me with surprised looks when the shady corporation they work for does something shady. Let’s have the marines stare down the monsters and just light them up for the entire movie. If this movie had dialogue that was limited to shouting orders or saying cheesy one-liners, then I would have been set.

The action…oh boy the action. As much as I wish the action was the sole focus of the film, it too suffers from poor quality. Annihilation has the look of a very low budgeted movie (I wouldn’t know the numbers because the budget is blocked on nearly every website I went to; the only number I could pull was the box office return of $72,104). If I were to take a stab, I would theorize that a very low budget was mixed with ambitions of seriously kick-ass action. The end result is a lot of scenes where single enemies run into people’s guns. I have another working theory that they could only afford to have a single person in makeup at a time, and thus use angles and quick cuts to disguise faces when there are multiple enemies on screen. It really is a shame because, if there had been more of a focus on this and much less time dedicated to filming poor dialogue, than the end result would have been more satisfying action. On a humorous note, there were moments where the CGI budget was seeing a good day, and the audience gets to see those glorious fake fireball effects.

If anything, the movie was committing the worst possible sin a movie can: being confusing to the point of almost being a comedic sketch. This is even worse than having a movie that is just okay (see Terminator: Dark Fate review). Some monsters just pull of a Vulcan nerve pinch on the marines, and they fall over to be killed. Monsters will also try the same maneuver, but the characters will just flail around until their marine friends finally shoot. In other instances, monsters can be bullet sponges AND made of tissue paper simultaneously. Characters will also completely switch their motivations on a dime without rhyme or reason. These are the kinds of things that disengage you from the movie, making you go “huh? What? H-How?”.

Final Verdict: 1 out of 5

Anything this movie has that is good, there is a Doom movie from 2005 that has done it better. It relies on a very simple mythology that can easily be explained by contextual clues in the environment. Movies like this are troubling because they offer nothing but confusion to normal movie goers and extreme disappointment to fans of the franchise. It is interesting enough to watch with friends for a laugh, but the buck stops there. In closing, I really would like to see a Doom movie succeed. It would only have to do two things: shut the characters up and just have them fight the monsters for an hour.

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