Postal – Videogames are bad for you week

This is videogames are bad for you week. So far I have been 0 for 3 – my worst week ever. Postal is currently available on instant Netflix.

Postal

AVOID: Postal (2007) – UR – Unrated

The theatrical version was rated R for extremely crude humor throughout, including strong sexuality, graphic nudity, violence, and for pervasive language and some drug use. Presumably the unrated version is worse.

“A live-action cross between “South Park” and Team America: World Police, this cheeky satire centers on jobless trailer-park resident Dude (Zack Ward). Desperate for dough, Dude and his ethically challenged Uncle Dave (Dave Foley) cook up a scheme to pinch a shipment of Krotchy dolls — the new stuffed talking penis toy — and sell them on eBay. Unfortunately, al-Qaida has the same idea … but plans to lace the toys with avian flu.”

“What is the difference between a duck?”

I actually really liked the above line in the movie. I also liked a scene where, while the hero is waiting for his number to be called, a shootout occurs. The hero moves among the victims trading his number up. If you only like reading positive things then it is time for you to stop here.

I hate to strike the same chord by reviewing yet another Uwe Boll film. Unfortunately the few videogame movies that I’ve seen and enjoyed are not available on instant Netflix. Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil while not Oscar contenders are good dumb fun.

The tagline on the poster for Postal is “Disgusting. Offensive. Stupid.” Well for once Uwe Boll hits his target. In spite of what I wrote above, the movie is virtually unwatchable.

For disgusting, we have plenty of toilet humor. I’m not sure whether to qualify the astonishing amount of misogyny as disgusting or offensive so since I’m male, I’ll go with disgusting. That’s not to mention the trailer park scenes.

For offensive, we have the theme park of Little Germany. The park comes complete with concentration camp section. Our protagonists raid the park dressed in Hitler moustaches and swastika armbands. If that doesn’t offend you, how about some dwarf-tossing? Perhaps watching young children being graphically shot is your offensive cause celebre.

That is all in the first half. Trust me it gets much more offensive in the second half. I’d catalog it but then I’d have to mark this post NSFW.

Finally that brings us to stupid. Well I have to tell you that that is ME! I watched this while film from beginning to end and my eyes are burning. This was so painful.

Uwe Boll grabs his usual suspects. Michael Pare puts in his usual cameo. Zack Ward (Bloodrayne II, Alone in the Dark II) is the ‘star’ of the film. German giant Ralf Moeller plays Officer John. J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson of Spider-Man) goes slumming – I mean puts in an appearance. They didn’t bother to write Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from Austin Powers) a role so he just plays himself.

Oh well, 0 for 4. Avoid this film. Please let tomorrow be a better day.

People Watch: Uwe Boll sticks it to the audience by playing himself. His videogame movies are referred to as ‘popular’ and he indicates that they are financed by Nazi gold.

Bloodrayne – Videogames are bad for you week

This is videogames are bad for you week. Bloodrayne is currently available on instant Netflix.

Bloodrayne

AVOID: Bloodrayne (2006) – UR – This movie is unrated

The theatrical version is rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality, and nudity. Presumably the unrated version is a little stronger.

“A half-human, half vampire sets out to destroy her vampire king father in this Gothic horror film based on the video game. Bloodthirsty Lord Kagan (Ben Kingsley) wants his daughter to become a full-fledged vampiress, but fanged femme fatale Rayne (Kristanna Loken) denounces her father’s legacy and instead joins up with a trio of vampire hunters (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Matt Davis). Billy Zane and Udo Kier co-star.”

“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer”

Yes this film doesn’t even bother with its own dialogue. It simply borrows from other films. When it does have original dialogue that dialogue is awful.

“Where are you going?” – “I’m going on my own.”

Thankfully there isn’t as much shaky cam, jump cutting, shifting camera angles and out of focus photography as in yesterday’s Alone in the Dark II but all are present to an annoying degree here as well.

Kristanna Loken, last seen as the hot Terminator in Terminator 3, is actually an ideal choice as Bloodrayne. It seems a shame that they didn’t keep the Nazi setting of the game. My guess is that Uwe Boll must have had easy access to medieval costumes. Also of course since much of his financing is German, Nazis probably don’t play well there.

The stupidity on display here is amazing. Vladimir (Michael Madsen) has a wrist-mounted mini-crossbow that apparently can reload itself. Characters are not so much killed by others as they do fall on other character’s weapons. Every unimportant character (villagers for example) is dressed in completely drab clothing, most lacking any color at all.

At one point the heroes get ‘black powder from China’. Is this somehow better than the gunpowder that Europeans had had for hundreds of years by this point?

No one looks askance at Bloodrayne’s midriff and cleavage baring outfit, much less that she seems to be the only character allowed outdoors in the color red. Don’t even get me started on the tattoo she sports. Also it apparently only takes Bloodrayne two seconds to completely drain a vampire of blood.

I love how the monastery has been guarding a sacred artifact for centuries yet Bloodrayne shows up and minutes later she has not only killed the guardian and foiled the videogame like puzzle, she also has the artifact. The monastery is then completely wiped out in a hilariously bad gorefest.

The only bright spot in the film is a single scene with a must be slumming Geraldine Chaplin (The Four Musketeers, Jane Eyre). She plays a fortune teller and in spite of all the other good actors in the film, she is the only one to give a good performance.

In fact I shouldn’t let the good actors off so lightly. Michael Madsen appears to be pretending that he is in a completely different film. Michelle Rodriguez just plays the same tough girl she always does – it would be nice to see her play against type sometime. Ben Kingsley is completely and somewhat inexplicably dreadful.

By all means AVOID this movie. If by any chance you missed any of the hilariously bad gore effects, don’t worry. They replay all of them at the end of the film in a flashback.

People Watch: Meat Loaf appears as Leonid. He is billed as Meat Loaf Aday – is this to distinguish him from all the other actors out there named Meat Loaf? At any rate his scene is the most embarrassing one in the film.


Alone in the Dark – Videogames are bad for you week

Well I hated to see last week’s ‘Don’t Get on That Boat week’ end but it’s time to move to a new topic. This week is ‘Videogames are bad for you week’. All of the movies will be about videogames or are based on videgames. Alone in the Dark is currently available on instant Netflix.

Alone in the Dark

AVOID: Alone in the Dark (2004) – Rated R for violence and language

“Private sleuth Edward Carnby (Christian Slater) specializes in weird supernatural phenomena, and he’ll be forced to work with his archaeologist ex-girlfriend (Tara Reid) to defeat the demonic ancient Abskani tribe, which is set to wreak havoc on Earth. But Carnby already has experience with the evil beings, which also attempt to infiltrate his mind. Stephen Dorff co-stars in this sci-fi thriller based on the popular video game series.”

Ha ha ha – I hardly know where to start. Let’s begin by revising Netflix’ information. All of the above is wrong. The Alone in the Dark they have on instant play is Alone in the Dark II not the film listed above even though that’s the information they have for it. The corrected listing is below.

Alone in the Dark 2

AVOID: Alone in the Dark II (labeled Alone in the Dark) – Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and brief drug content.

“When a 100-year-old witch (Allison Lange) hatches a horrid plot to sacrifice a young girl with a mystical dagger, a team of witch hunters led by Edward Carnby (Rick Yune) set out to stop the killing and retrieve the terrible blade. But soon they discover that anyone who touches the knife falls under the power of the witch’s vengeful bloodlust. Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer direct this horror film that co-stars Lance Henriksen.”

“This is radioactive solution…makes you invisible to the other side. It cancels out the aura.”

I’m not sure whether to be pleased or disappointed that I won’t have to watch Uwe Boll’s original film. This direct to video sequel replaces Christian Slater with Rick Yune as Edward Carnby. It is written and directed by Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer.

First off I have to say that I’m glad this wasn’t a theatrical release. The combination of shaky cam, jump cuts, shifting camera angles and out of focus photography would probably have made me very ill. It is still almost headache-inducing to watch.

It really has no connection to the first film except that one character is called Edward Carnby. The film revolves around a group of hapless Ghosthunter-wannabes. They might as well be wearing red shirts or bullseyes.

The film is ridiculously heavy-handed. You see everyone hiding in an electrified cage so you know the power is going to go out. It does so almost immediately. You see a device with a large spike so you know someone will get impaled on it. Lo and behold, moments later someone is impaled on it.

Hilariously there is a door that opens partway up from the ground. Clearly Carnby can crawl through but Natalie (Rachel Specter) declares only she can squeeze through. Later on the door closes and the heroes spike it to keep it from closing completely. When it opens to about the same height as before, Carnby removes the block (even though he could go through and leave it there) and crawls through. The door promptly tries to shut on his foot. Then another character says that they’ll go get the car jack – something that would have made the whole sequence moot.

It is a shame that this movie isn’t any good. They assembled a genre fan’s dream cast which is surprising for a direct to video feature. It is not surprising that these people would be in a DTV movie – it is just surprising that so many of them are in the same one.

In addition to the always wonderful Lance Henriksen, Michael Pare (Bad Moon, Gargoyles) pops up briefly as Willson. Danny Trejo (Grindhouse, From Dusk til Dawn) and Ralf Moeller (best known as the giant German from Gladiator). Also putting in appearances are Zack Ward (Freddy vs. Jason, Transformers), Bill Moseley (Grindhouse, The Devil’s Rejects), Natassia Malthe (DOA, Elektra) and Jason Connery (son of Sean).

In spite of the ineptitude the film almost ends well and then we have a cheap cop-out. After the cheap cop-out, we have an obligatory second cheap cop-out which makes absolutely no sense given what went on throughout the entire film. Sorry to keep that vague but I hate spoiling even the bad films.

People Watch: Who should pop up as Lance Henriksen’s wife but P.J. (Carrie, Halloween) Soles.

Interview with the Vampire

Unfortunately I was out of town all day yesterday so I missed my chance to post every day in October. I’ll post twice today to make up for it. I thought first we’d take a look at some vampires adapted from other medium.

Interview with the Vampire

WATCH: Interview with the Vampire (1994) – “Director Neil Jordan’s Oscar-nominated tale of bloodsucking immortals moves from 18th century New Orleans to a Grand Guignol theater in Paris to present-day San Francisco as it explores betrayal, love, loneliness and hunger. The lives of a trio of vampires — cavalier Lestat (Tom Cruise), tormented Louis (Brad Pitt) and childlike Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) — are interconnected for centuries in this adaptation of Anne Rice’s romantic horror tale”

Anne Rice was livid when she found out her vampire Lestat was going to be played by noted Scientologist Tom Cruise. Pretty much any film Tom Cruise is in becomes a Tom Cruise film (due in part to Tom Cruise being so powerful that he often retains final cut and has no problem overruling directors though in this case Neil Jordan retained final cut) so she certainly had cause for alarm. It was a wonderful surprise then when Tom Cruise gave a riveting, masterful portrayal of Lestat – indeed in my opinion it is his absolute best performance. For those who adore male scenery, in addition to stars Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, we also have Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, and Stephen Rea. A very young Kirsten Dunst almost manages to steal the show from Cruise as a gloriously creepy young lady. Anne Rice does a wonderful job of adapting her own novel amd Neil Jordan’s direction is superb. The cinematography and atmosphere in the film is wonderful as well if you can manage to tear your eyes away from the performers long enough to enjoy it. To her credit, Anne Rice not only apologized to Tom but took out a two-page ad in Vanity Fair and the New York Times endorsing the movie.

AVOID: Bloodrayne (2006) – This film is simply dreadful. Uwe Boll is widely recognized as one of the (if not the) worst genre director in the world. His films are not hilariously incompetent like Ed Wood’s but simply unwatchably incompetent. I swear that I needed a dramamine to sit through House of the Dead with my daughter. This one is no different in spite of the presence of slumming actors Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Michael Pare, Billy Zane and Udo Kier.