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BloodRayne   D-

Romar Entertainment / Boll KG Productions

Year Released: 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Uwe Boll
Writer: Guinevere Turner
Cast: Kristanna Loken, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Matt Davis, Geraldine Chaplin, Will Sanderson, Udo Kier, Billy Zane, Meat Loaf Aday.

Review by Rob Vaux

"What does 'incompetent' mean?"
--Tony the Hot Dog Vendor (Damien Leake), Highlander

It's not every day that a film makes the IMDb Bottom 100 list before it even opens. Such is the reputation of Uwe Boll, a director justly hailed as the reincarnation of Ed Wood. His chosen oeuvre is film adaptations of video games, a fact that has so angered and alienated the video game community that they start shrieking like Brazilian hairdressers whenever word of his latest film gets out. It's hard to blame them. Boll, to put it mildly, doesn't know how to make films. And when I say that, I don't mean in a subjective, debatable way where the vagaries of opinion can be argued and discussed. I mean it's a quantifiable fact. Boll can't make films the same way cats can't drive and elephants can't fly. His efforts are exercises in abject incompetence, littering the screen with meaningless drivel filled by only the barest whiff of cohesion. It beggars the mind that intelligent adults could sign off on such work without once questioning what they're doing. And from the look of things, he doesn't aim to stop anytime soon.

Case in point: BloodRayne, his latest opus with supposed origins in a (hopefully superior) VG. From the beginning, the film finds itself in deep trouble, saddling an ostensibly simplistic romp with an unfathomably complex -- and hugely uninteresting -- storyline. To it, DPs Mathias and Michael Neumann add an atmosphere that resembles chronic diarrhea, while screenwriter Guinevere Turner produces bafflingly wretched dialogue that reads like a half-assed Ren Faire production of The Vampire Lestat. Boll oversees the entire mess with the grace and tact of a Sherman tank. His camera placement is ill-conceived, his blocking is painfully haphazard, and his fight scenes betray no sign that he has the first clue how to proceed. Nor does he seem particularly interested in his characters, leaving it to the cast to puzzle out how to deliver their unspeakable lines. He's attracted a fair number of recognizable names to the project, prompting one to ask what kind of blackmail material he's holding over them. That they perform with such detached ennui is a sign of how little they care about their work here, as well as a scathing indictment of their director's inability to make use of his assets. Severe miscasting is the order of the day (Michael Madsen? Michelle Rodriguez? "I'll take 'Actors Who Should Never Appear in Period Pieces' for $500, Alex."), and the hair stylist insists on compounding the performers' folly by fitting them in wigs that double for Texas roadkill on the weekends.

Into this mess steps Kristanna Loken, who plays the title character and who really deserves better. Loken has a genuine cinematic presence (she was last seen pounding the governor of California to snot in Terminator 3) and while she won't unseat Meryl Streep anytime soon, she could make a decent action heroine on par with her co-star Rodriguez. Her character is a dhampir, a half-human, half-vampire, all-inappropriately-tanned being who begins the film in a circus sideshow, but soon escapes and -- with the help of the vampire-hunting society Brimstone -- launches a quest for revenge against the evil Kagan (Ben Kingsley, who I really hope enjoys his check). It sounds simple, but the inexplicable convolutions and unnecessary character development render it formless mush. It's exacerbated by the mindless fight scenes, which demonstrate no understanding of pacing or choreography and are rendered with all the energy and gusto of a 50-year-old stripper grinding it out on the pole. Watching Loken struggle to assert herself in such dreck is actively painful.

Then again, anybody familiar with Boll's work should expect nothing less. The man has compared himself to John Woo and Sergio Leone, assertions that have earned as much derision as the supremely inept product that he insists on cranking out. I refrained from grading BloodRayne an F solely for Loken's sake, but in practical fact, it's really just as bad. No one should really be surprised; the smell of this turkey will tip you off from miles away.

Review published 01.07.2006.

IMDb | buy it at Amazon.com

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