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Originally published Friday, October 21, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

Game on: "Doom" blasts onto the big screen

There's never a dull moment in this surprisingly clever imagining of one of the most popular video games of all time, especially considering...

Special to The Seattle Times

There's never a dull moment in this surprisingly clever imagining of one of the most popular video games of all time, especially considering that the murderous mayhem and extreme bloodletting that are its hallmarks remain intact.

No frame of reference to the "Doom" universe is needed; the movie sets up its silly premise with just a few snippets of exposition. A mysterious portal to Mars ("the Ark") in the Nevada desert is jeopardized when the scientific community on the Red Planet discovers a malevolent alien force.

Call in the Marines and all the firepower they can carry (shades of "Aliens"). In almost no time we're peering around corners and swishing gun-mounted lights into dark tunnels just the way every "Doom" player has been doing at home for years.

Movie review 2.5 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Doom," with The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson), Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Richard Brake. Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, from a screenplay by Dave Callaham and Wesley Strick. 104 minutes. Rated R for strong violence/gore and language. Several theaters.

The buff and conflict-prone squad is in search of scientists-turned-mutant-zombie-imps. The catalyst is C-24, a 24th chromosome indigenous to an ancient Martian race that happens to turn some humans into hyper-aggressive killer beasts. The Marines' job is to make sure the creatures don't make it through the Ark and back to Earth.

The squad leader is The Rock, and that he is with shoulders a mile wide and a snarling mug that all but screams for a cheap stogie. The grunts in his command are a cartoonish (or video-game-ish) crew haphazardly cut from squeamish, psycho or insubordinate cloths.

One of them has a sister who's a lead Martian researcher in the archaeological expedition, which leads to another kind of conflict. The brother/sister thing is also the device that triggers the movie's most hilarious and ingenious sequence — the guncam shot that perfectly mimics the gameplay millions of "Doom" fanatics know so well.

Rather than simply throw in the guncam slapdash, the filmmakers make it an imaginative, crowd-pleasing single take that bursts with perfect timing into the outrageous goings-on.

The final twist ending also turns into an unexpected bout of rousing, well-crafted whimsy.

As if in spite of the worry Hollywood has about video games cutting into movie profits, "Doom" rides the wave with a giddy sense of, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Ted Fry:

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