NOVEMBER 11, 2011
Is there any worse way to honor the veterans than watching a DTV video game movie about vampires in World War II? One directed by Uwe Boll, no less? Now, to be fair, I was actually in Boll’s corner for a while there (like 2006-2007 or so), but what little progress he was making as a filmmaker seems to have stalled, and if Bloodrayne: The Third Reich is any indication, his first few video game movies were actually BETTER than what he’s doing now – at least those were jaw-droppingly, hilariously bad, whereas this (and its predecessor) are just plain boring.
In fact this one might even be worse than Deliverance, which at least had a fun villain and some decent action. Here, Rayne (Natassia Malthe, reprising the role and thus doubling the number of times the character was played by Kristanna Loken) does the same damn thing every time – spins a bit, slices a guy with her sword, and then makes a pose before going off to the next one. Only her brief battle with main villain Michael Paré (his third character in the series) has any variety to it, with a pretty awesome killing blow, but it’s so short and blandly shot that it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
It’s also distractingly cheap and obviously made quickly. I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer for Blubberella, which has most of the same cast and the exact same locations – I suspect that Boll was given the money/time for one film and opted to make two. Thus, scenes play out almost entirely in hand-held master shots, they never seem to move beyond the same three locations, and the action is insultingly unsatisfying. When guys get shot they just sort of clumsily fall over – no squibs or anything to show that they’ve actually been shot (even a major villain character gets this half-assed treatment for his death scene), and even though there are a ton of vampires, they never really use their powers (or show their makeup). I can’t imagine this thing took more than two weeks to shoot (if that), which would be fine for some anonymous DTV slasher but not for a sequel in a once theatrical franchise, one with a fairly cool concept to boot.
See, each film takes place in a different time, and if nothing else they do a decent job selling the period settings on each. So the original was 16th century Romania or something, and the last one was a 19th century Old West tale, and now we have World War II. I like the idea of a series that can literally do whatever the hell it wants as long as it keeps the central character, and assuming the series keeps going, they have free “Rayne” (arrrrgghh) to go back and forth, covering different wars in different countries. It’s not like there’s any real continuity among them anyway – we’re not told how she ended up in Europe or what she’s been doing for the past 100 years or whatever it’s been since she fought vamps in the old west.
Speaking of continuity, there’s a brief flashback to the original where we see her “origin” (the death of her mother), which pays off when she has a nightmare that Hitler himself was the vampire that caused her affliction. Sort of like in Batman Forever when Bruce dreams that it was actually Two-Face who killed his parents, or in that made up Spider-Man movie where they try to make you think Sandman was responsible for the death of Uncle Ben. Except infinitely more hilarious, because, you know, it’s Hitler, with vampire teeth. I kept hoping he’d pop up in the film for real (the plot has something to do with his getting some of Rayne’s blood to him), but alas, Paré is as villainous as the movie gets.
There are two minor improvements over the last one, keeping this from being a total waste of time and energy. First (actually this one might be a MAJOR improvement in your eyes), Malthe disrobes this time around, engaging in minor lesbian activity with an anonymous masseuse and then later having a romp with Brendan Fletcher on a train. Personally, I think she looked better in the last movie than she does here, but it’s still worth noting for those who were massively disappointed that she kept her clothes on in Deliverance. The other improvement: no Chris Coppola! I don’t know if he’s moved on from the Boll troupe or if they just couldn’t afford to fly him to Croatia, but while Paré, Fletcher, and Clint Howard are on board, that unfunny distraction is kept away, and that’s all that matters.
I also appreciate the practical FX work. There’s not a lot, but with so many movies overusing digital blood these days (especially on quickie productions), seeing genuine splatter is always a nice “bonus” of sorts. At first I was thinking this would be a huge makeup movie, since the (laughably overlong) opening credits had two separate full screen cards for “Prosthetics” (with two names each!), but apart from some mutated vampire thing early on, there’s nothing here beyond teeth and the occasional impalement. But they’re done in camera instead of on a computer, which is enough to forgive their abbreviated usage.
If you take out those credits and the slowed down end titles, plus the worthless flashbacks to the original, the movie would only be an hour long. I wonder if Boll would fare better with a syndicated TV show? Obviously he couldn’t do the different time periods every week, but maybe one setting per season would work, and with a variety of writers (and Boll largely kept to a producer role) it might actually be kind of fun. A weekly show about a vampire woman who can “day” walk (the entire movie is set during overcast daytime hours) and uses her powers/strength to fight Nazis or whatever? I’d watch that. But a fourth film that continues this downward trajectory? No thanks.
What say you?