It's been on-again, off-again more times than Pammy, Tommy and the Iranian nuclear program all put together - but finally, after ten years, the ultimate game-movie is coming to a screen near you. As ever, the big question on every gamer's lips is, "Have they f***ed it up?", or more likely, "Just how badly have they f***ed it up?"
It's a fair enough question. History pretty much dictates that films based on games are going to stink, pissing right in the eyes of the gamers that made the film possible in the first place and leaving the source material unconscious in a ditch. But there's always that faint hope that this will be the one to break the mould, the one that finally does justice to our memories, hopes and dreams. If you've seen the Doom trailer, that crack of hope will have opened just a little, because it looks - not too loud now - pretty good.
To be honest though, we've been expecting this, as we've had a bit of an inside track on the film's development all year. In fact, PC ZONE visited the set of Doom in Prague during principal photography and had a chat with many of the key players, including Karl Urban, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Rosamund Pike and visual FX supervisor Jon Farhat. We've been itching to tell you all about it, but a pesky international embargo has kept us gagged (until now). Finally, we can make like a bloated zombie and spill our guts (though not too much of the plot hopefully), and reveal why we think Doom could break every precedent there is for game-based movies.
IF IT'S WORTH DOING...
Admittedly, we haven't seen the finished product yet, so we could be horribly wrong here. But what we can assert with confidence is that everyone involved went into the project with the right frame of mind and the right level of respect for the wants of the fans. The script, for a start, went through at least seven major revisions before filming got under way, starting with an ultragritty first draft by first-timer David Callaham, then through the hands of producer John Wells and eventually to Wesley Strick, a big-time Hollywood script doctor who came aboard to polish the dialogue. At every step, id Software had broad approval.
"The story is very similar," says id's Todd Hollenshead. "It isn't based exactly on the Doom 3 story, but there are a lot of similarities between who the good guys are, who the bad guys are and how that all works out." Suffice it to say, the plot will be instantly recognisable, despite a few inevitable tweaks for the sake of storytelling.
The action takes place at a scientific research base on Mars, where a meddling scientist (called Dr Carmack, ho ho) has unwittingly opened a wormhole to 'somewhere bad'. It's not necessarily the gates of hell, but it may as well be, as the accident has unleashed a legion of imps and demons into the facility. To make matters worse, people are turning into hideous zombie mutants left and right, and nobody knows why. Answering a distress call from the stricken base, an elite Rapid Response Tactical Squad is sent in to seal off the facility and kill whatever they find inside - unless it eats them first.
Apart from the games, the inspiration here is clearly Aliens, as well as a little bit of Predator (no bad thing either way). The squad of space marines even have nicknames that could be from either of those films - Duke, Goat, Destroyer, not to forget John 'Reaper' Grimm, better known to you and me as DoomGuy.
One of the big questions throughout the development of Doom was: who would play DoomGuy? Names such as Arnie and Vin Diesel were tossed around early on, but when the project was finally green-lit it looked like the part would fall to The Rock, former People's Champion now turned serious actor. As it turns out, the brawny grappler preferred the 'Sarge' role, leaving the door open for a personable Kiwi called Karl Urban. Best known for his taciturn performance as Eomer in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, he's also played villains in Riddick and The Bourne Supremacy, but cites Doom as the most challenging, exhausting film he's ever done. Luckily for us, he also understands the gravity of his position.