Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bloodrayne (Unrated Directors Cut) - review

DVD Director: Uwe Boll

Release Date: 2005

Contains spoilers
In the UK we have not, officially, had a release of Bloodrayne. Being a glutton for vampiric punishment, and a fan of the games, I therefore immediately pre-ordered the region 1 release of the movie. Now let’s begin with myth dispelling, namely around the games. As I said, I am a fan, but that does not mean they are fantastic games – they are functional. I remember PC Zone reviewing the first game and stating it was less a game and more an Italian sexploitation flick; that was enough for me to buy the game and they were right on the money with their analysis. The game storylines are thinner than a bride’s nightdress, in the first instance, so any form of story in the movie is a plus.

It must also be stated that the DVD ships with the full Bloodrayne 2 game. A great marketing ploy, and one that was lost on myself as I bought the game on release and finished it months ago. Thus I bought the DVD despite, rather than because of, the game. Ne’er mind, if this actually opens the gates to full PC games being released with DVDs then that can be no bad thing, just as a nice little bonus.

So, what about the movie? First thing to note is it is an Uwe Boll movie, now I’d not had the dubious pleasure of his first two efforts, but looking on the internet he is generally hated. I went into the movie trying to dispel that from my mind, less I became unwarrantedly prejudiced.

Unlike the games, which are set in the Second World War and modern day, the film is set in the middle ages. As the movie begins we meet Vladimir (Michael Madsen), Sebastian (Mathew Davis) and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez), agents of the Brimstone Society, a group dedicated to the eradication of vampires. They are in an inn and we see the first staking. The death of the vampire is interesting, a rapid decomposition, kind of like a Buffy dusting, but down to desiccation of the corpse rather than full turning to dust. They are told about a freak in a circus. Cutting to the circus we see Rayne (Kristanna Loken) pulled in front of the crowd. She is forced to dip her arm into water, burning it, and is then cut. She is then forced to drink sheep’s blood in order to heal for the crowds’ amusement. Vladimir believes she is the one prophesised. Unfortunately evil vampire Kagan (Ben Kingsley) is also searching for her.

Rayne escapes the circus, The film contains a high gore levelentering “Blood Rage” (a power up from the game). The escape is pretty darn gory and this sets the scene for the film as there is no shying away from flesh ripping, blood splattering gore.

After decapitating and burning the victims at the circus, and killing the girl who Rayne bit, but did not kill, the Brimstone agents continue their search. In the meantime Viscount Elrich (Billy Zane) sends a message to his daughter, Katarin, suggesting that Brimstone is collapsing and she should send him the talisman. This is a sub-plot that is woefully under used, though it sets up for one of the film’s major movements and it is a shame as Zane is on fine form.

It seems there are three talismans, the heart, eye and rib of an ancient vampire. Each talisman can bestow a power upon a vampire and Kagan wants them. Rayne meanwhile has decided she wants to kill vampires and meets a handy fortune teller. We discover that she is a dhampir, half human half vampire, and daughter of Kagan, who raped and killed her mother. The fortune teller directs her to a monastery where the eye is kept, as she will be able to use possession of a talisman to get to Kagan. Once entry to the monastery is gained there is a pure video game moment with big boss type monster and puzzle trap section. Rayne gets the eye, which bestows immunity to the ill effects of water and then Kagan’s thralls attack.

After a bloody battle scene Rayne is taken prisoner by Domastir (Will Sanderson). He takes her, for the daylight hours to themovie poster lair of Leonid (Meatloaf). Now here we see one of those special moments of realism, the vampire whores with Leonid are actually prostitutes – they were cheaper to hire than actresses allegedly. The Brimstone boys go in to rescue her and on the film goes. There is a story here, of power and betrayal, but it isn’t well put together. Part of the problem is in the acting which, in the main, is lack lustre. Many have complained that both Madsen and Kingsley seem to phone their performances in, and that is the impression I got. Loken just didn’t feel right as Rayne. In the game she is ultra sassy, yet here she felt lost.

I mentioned the gore. The high gore is underlined when, at the end of the movie there is a montage of some of the goriest parts of the movie (and some that weren’t actually in the earlier film). The scene, I suppose, shows Rayne remembering the bloody path that led her to where she is but, quite frankly, seemed gratuitous and damaging. I say damaging because some of the scenes were slowed down, rather than the fast cuts Boll used during the movie, and it allowed the viewer to see just how poor some of the effects actually were.

This film has been attacked vehemently, as has Boll. Thus he must be doing something right, just look at the number of pages of comments on imdb, 19 pages – you can’t buy that sort of publicity (and there is no such thing as bad publicity). Boll is also likened to Ed Wood, a little unfair as Wood had an innocence that I really did not see here. However, I think the film has been unfairly slated. Don’t get me wrong, its not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but I have seen much worse.

I’m giving this 3 out of 10.

There is an Official Site that has both film and DVD pages.


fenris said...

While I won't deny that all three of the Bloodrayne movies contain some substantial flaws, I'm a fan of the series. I'll much rather watch one of the Bloodrayne films than any of the Blade or Underworld movies.

I'm not a computer games fan, so have never played any of the Bloodrayne games, though I did read nearly all of the various Bloodrayne comic book mini-series and one-shots that were published by Digital Webbing several years ago. It's a shame that the proposed fourth film (which was reportedly going to be set either during the Cold War or in the present) was never made.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

and that is the great thing about vampire films (and films in general) we can all find something we like.

I'd have liked to have seen the films made, with the same cast perhaps though I prefer Malthe as Rayne, but with a competent director who could get a decent performance out of the cast and put the thing together better.

Nice to hear from you :)