Doom Set Visit Preview

By Garth Franklin Wednesday June 1st 2005 07:15PM

Here's a special report from Jeff Wilser: Forget Halo. Forget Grand Theft Auto. Back in the day, there was only one definitive, ass-kicking, glorious game of violence. That game was Doom. The granddaddy of first-person-shooters, the one that started them all. As addictive as crack, but less wholesome. We cut classes, we quit bathing, we forgot about dating--all to wield the chainsaw and pump the shotgun. And the "BFG."

Now, years after its heyday, "Doom" finally hits the big screen. From Universal Studios and director Andrzej Bartkowiak ("Cradle 2 the Grave," "Exit Wounds"), and starring The Rock and Karl Urban (Eomer from "The Lord of the Rings"), "Doom" intends to be a faithful adaptation of the classic game.

"Really?" you might say. "When do they start shooting?"

Heh. You never would guess it from the film's publicity--or lack thereof--but "Doom" has actually finished shooting. Universal has kept this puppy a veritable secret. No promotion. No trailers. No teasers. Not even a one-sheet. Bartkowiak has been filming in Prague, out of the limelight and out of the studio's crosshairs.

In short, for a big-budget release, we know shockingly little. Until now.

Earlier this year, I accepted Universal's invitation to visit the set of "Doom." I trekked out to snowy, gloomy, beautiful Prague, and had a chance to interview The Rock, Karl Urban, and all the key members of the special effects crew. In the coming months, we'll be sharing each of these interviews, plus a complete report on the set, the story, and the monsters.

Some things, though, you should know right away:

1. The tone: There's nothing soft or watered-down about "Doom." In their own words, the makers of the film are going for a "Hard R." Excellent news for Doomers.

2. The set: Every set, every corridor, every weapon looks faithful to the game. The set is a maze of dark corridors, steel-dungeony-looking hallways that should be scary as hell. The arsenal of weapons includes several nods to the game, including, of course, the BFG.

3. The effects: Bartkowiak is using real models when possible, minimizing the employment of green screens. For instance, the monsters have real monster costumes--dark and creepy. The "Baron," in particular, looks like an "Aliens"-worthy creature. Much more on him later.

4. The story: The script is loosely based on the "Doom 3" videogame. Sometime in the future, John Grimm (Karl Oben), Sarge (The Rock), and a military -esque crew receive a distress call from a science lab on the remote planet Olduvai. (No, that's not a cologne.) They teleport to Olduvai. Once on Oldvuai, they're thrown into a maelstrom of dimly-lit hallways, monsters, and bloodshed. The setup might differ slightly from the game, but it's the same meat and potatoes.

5. The location: Don't worry. No part of "Doom" takes place in Prague. The sets are all indoors--as befits the brooding game--and have nothing to do with the Czech Republic.

Who knows how this will play. But one thing is for certain: "Doom" has an edge. A gritty, R-rated, punch-you-in-the-jugular edge. Check back soon for the complete report.