Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not offensive, just bad

I finally saw my first Uwe Boll movie over the weekend.

It was terrible. But it didn't offend me.

I watched BloodRayne as a literal "midnight movie" on Saturday night. I had already watched four movies on Saturday, two that I'd seen previously (Henry Poole Is Here and Morvern Callar) and two that I hadn't (Middle Men and Enter the Void -- I'd like to write a post about that last one, but frankly, I'm still processing it). I thought BloodRayne would make a perfect capper to my day's activities -- I knew it would be terrible, but I thought it might be gloriously terrible.

Nah. Mostly just boring. In fact, even with the help of a Red Bull, I couldn't stay awake. I had to finish in the morning.

See, I always knew Uwe Boll was supposed to be a hack -- there are fan-driven campaigns in existence to try to prevent him from making more movies. I figured this kind of hatred meant he was also some kind of degenerate sleaze merchant.

But I was pretty bored by the badness of BloodRayne. Oh it's bad -- there are no two ways about it. But it's bad in a fairly generic way. It's not usually laughably bad (though I did laugh a couple times). Mostly it's bad in the way many straight-to-video movies are bad, where neither the acting nor the effects are very good.

And I guess that's why Boll is the target of such scorn -- his movies are generally not released straight-to-video, where they would allow him a certain anonymity. (Though some of them are -- I understand that the BloodRayne sequel did not get released theatrically, and the third film, which is still in post, will probably also miss the theaters.) Not only do they get theatrical releases, they also have recognizable actors. In fact, BloodRayne boasts an Oscar winner in Ben Kingsley, looking as stiff and unmotivated as you can imagine in the role of an evil vampire lord. The rest of the cast has some B-movie actors (Michael Madsen) and some who are more respectable than that (Michelle Rodriguez). Kristanna Loken proves she was better as a mute killing machine in Terminator 3 than as a lead actress with actual lines, but she's a recognizable name/face, too.

To develop a really solid Boll theory, I'd probably need to see the other video game adaptations that made him famous for being so awful, namely House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. (I wanted to do a Boll double feature but Alone in the Dark was not available on Netflix streaming.) But it looks like he's just an untalented person who has somehow convinced talented people to work with him, and has gotten theatrical releases on the strength of their names.

And I guess I should admit that BloodRayne does contain some actual sleaze. In a scene featuring Meat Loaf as a hedonistic vampire lord, Boll hired prostitutes to play his topless succubi, so he could pay them less. And there's a sex scene featuring Loken whose only narrative purpose seems to be to expose her breasts. But in terms of what's actually on screen, it's not morally reprehensible or anything. I should add that there are also limbs being severed and sprays of arterial blood, but they are so comical that they don't have the slightest ability to shock.

As I was watching BloodRayne, I considered the difference between a bad movie like BloodRayne and a bad movie like Troll 2. It's the difference between a bad movie you want to watch and a bad movie you don't. I can understand why fans have subjected themselves to repeat viewings of Troll 2 -- I myself would probably like to see it again. But BloodRayne, and by extension Boll's other films? Once is probably too many. BloodRayne is not "worse" than Troll 2, in most senses -- Troll 2 makes more obvious logical gaffes, has far worse acting and has even more ridiculous lines of dialogue. But the bad qualities of Troll 2 are a joy to behold, while Boll's cinematic sins are just tedious and dull.

Then again, maybe I should add Alone in the Dark to my Netflix queue before I can say anything for certain ...

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