|10.23.05||Paramount||This Screening is part of event: Austin Film Festival 2005|
There were plenty of seats at the Paramount to hold everyone that was looking forward to, mildly interested in, or morbidly curious about Uwe Boll's latest video-game movie Bloodrayne. Dr. Boll (PhD in literature, achieved while he was making unseccessful films in Germany) is infamous for his previous video game efforts Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead. I must confess to not seeing either of these, but when I was a part of a website that reviewed film trailers House of the Dead was unanimously voted Worst Trailer of the Year. From what I've heard from those who sat through the whole film, I consider myself lucky to only have watched 90 seconds worth.
The film is about a half-vampire/half-human named Rayne who wants to kill vampires. There's also a group called the Brimstone society which likes to kill vampires, but they're being killed off by this big powerful vampire that also happened to rape and kill Rayne's mother. Ben Kingsley plays this big baddie but basically all he does for the whole movie is sit in a throne and look bored. Will Sanderson plays a human who works for Ben Kingsley and apparently does all the work. I'm really not sure what makes Ben Kingsley so powerful because he really doesn't do much at all. Every line reading speaks more of "please let this week be over so I can go home and get paid" to me than "I am a super vampire that is really powerful." In fact, the vast majority of acting that goes on in this movie is pathetic, so much so that I almost don't want to mention it. Like, when you come across a three-legged dog, it'd be wrong to trip it, right? Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Kristanna Loken, Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier, Michael Pare, and Meat Loaf were all somehow in this, so it was interesting to see each of their differing methods of phoning in a performance. It really says something when Billy Zane gives the best performance in a movie.
What's there to say about Bloodrayne? It's a disappointment, not in the ways that you think an Uwe Boll film would be (like cutting to video game footage for every death or having random wire-frame guns spinning around in the background), but disappointing because it's not so bad that it's worth talking about. It's just a horrible boring movie. I guess it's supposed to be better than his previous two and Boll talked a lot about how bad the conditions were shooting in Romania but that doesn't make the film any better. The movie is really not worth talking about. Don't see it, it's bad, that's it. It reminded me a lot of the D&D movie a few years back.
However, Boll's stage presence and honesty in answering questions afterward made him come off as a very personable and fun guy. I still can't quite figure out if he thinks his movies are actually good or not, but he certainly doesn't shy away from saying that not everything he's worked on comes out perfect. Together with actor Will Sanderson, they took some Q&A after the screening:
-They shot entirely in Romania, which was tough because it's largely a mafia-run area right now so if you don't use one of the two production companies set up there, they shoot you. They also ended up using mafia-controlled prostitutes to populate Meat Loaf's harem of nymphs.
-Boll likes to cast at the very end of pre-production. He gave some reason like if you ask them right at the last second, they are more apt to say yes if they have a hole in their schedule. He also stated that he's pretty open with who gets cast, telling the agents "this is the part, if you've got John Malkovich that'd be nice but we'll see other people too." In Dr. Boll's opinion, who you've got playing the part isn't really important anyway when you have a genre picture as long as it's a recognizable name. In this case, he hired all of his actors two weeks before shooting started.
-Will Sanderson was very funny and uninhibited. When asked what his shooting experience was like, he started with "I was happy to go home." He also talked about how, with only two weeks of fight and horse training conducted by a Romanian crew who didn't really speak any English, all of the fight scenes were a real mess. Boll added that some of the stuntmen that showed up didn't match the stuntmen that they were told they'd be getting, and a lot of them weren't very good at all.
-Boll also mentioned that Madsen was constantly drunk and never in any real condition to get on a horse or fight with a sword.
-When asked about the writer, Guinevere Turner, Boll said that several writers came in and pitched for Bloodrayne but he liked hers the best. He thinks her script is great and that it's fast, really keeping the story moving which is important with this kind of picture.
-On the subject of video game films, Boll stated that he's made other kinds of films in the past and originally did not want to do House of the Dead because the script was terrible. He said that he still didn't like the script even after accepting so a lot of the dialogue in that movie got cut. Unfortunately (both for him and for us), although the movies don't necessarily do well in theaters, they happen to make a lot in DVD sales. Since he has private investors who expect returns, he's kind of stuck doing video game movies right now because they keep making money.
-When he options the rights to a particular franchise, the game company usually sends over all the background information as well as character bibles and things of that nature. He does play the games but most of the time the stories are only equivalent to one act. They set up characters but a game usually doesn't have enough substance to carry a complete arc so he has to expand. It's a constant battle between fans of the video game and people who don't know anything about it, so he says he tries his best to stay right in the middle because leaning too far to one side would alienate the other.
-When asked about why Boll seems to be bearing the brunt of Internet hatred, Boll answered with "yes, stop. Please, stop." He then went into a thing about how video game and horror film fans are also the people most active on the Internet and the most vocal, about how it may be a vocal minority type thing, then Will Sanderson threw in "Yeah, but he's also fun to hate." They then mentioned the secret stash of Nazi gold that Boll uses to make his films, which got pretty big laughs from the audience.
So there you have it. I know he's supposed to be crazy and mean but he seemed pretty nice and easy tonight. That doesn't mean you should go see his movie though, don't even rent it.