The Greatness Of The Worst Video Game Movie Maker

The Greatness Of The Worst Video Game Movie Maker
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He’s one of the most hated men in movies. Critics pan his flicks. Audiences aren’t having it. Gamers loathe him. Heck, a chewing gum maker even wanted him to retire. But is it possible that we’ve all been wrong?

This year, Prince of Persia was supposed to be the big Hollywood film that got gaming right. It didn’t deliver, and 2010 was another year bereft of the elusive great gaming flick. As gaming movies continue to let us down, maybe it’s time to consider that the worst offender in all this might not be the worst offender after all. It is time to re-assess the king of hated video game movies, Uwe Boll.

The German-born Boll made his splash in the early part of the last decade with House of the Dead, a cinematic take on the Sega arcade games. Low budget and corny, it was the film that would cement his reputation in the West as a maker of low-budget game-inspired schlock.

“I have almost no time to play video games,” Boll tells Kotaku from the set of his current production In the Name of the King 2. According to Boll, The House of the Dead film version came via Mark Altman, the film scribe and producer behind DOA: Dead or Alive.

Boll thought he’d made the most accurate House of the Dead film send-up possible, and Sega supported the picture with then Sega of America exec Peter Moore given a zombie cameo. The movie’s reviews were brutal, but the movie turned a profit. “Because it made money I went deeper into the gaming world and tried to acquire games I like – for example Alone In The Dark or BloodRayne,” Boll says.

Alone in the Dark didn’t fair much better with Alone in the Dark’s scriptwriter dishing on the changes Boll made to the film and the game’s developer deciding not to make this film a tie-in for the then-upcoming Alone in the Dark 5. The movie was not a success with critics or at the box office. BloodRayne, which had a budget of $US25 million only made $US3 million at theatres. Critics hated it. This is where the career of any normal filmmaker would draw to a close. Uwe Boll is not any normal filmmaker, because Boll produced sequels of both: BloodRayne 2 in 2007 and Alone in the Dark II in 2008.

This is Boll’s brilliance – he is able to get his films made. Even when critics tear into his pictures, there he is with yet another film. He’s used German tax loopholes to get his films financed as well as good old fashioned pre-sales, private investors and subsidies. Boll might not be the greatest film director, but he is a great movie producer. Since 2002, he’s made over fifteen films. “I’ve never made more than three movies in a year, and I only did that twice,” he says. “Normally I do two movies a year. Three is too much.” Here’s a guy who filmed three movies back to back, all using Nazi uniforms, props and settings and all completely different. His work ethic and corner-cutting harkens back to the bygone days when directors pumped out films year after year, rather then leaving them to languish in development hell. When asked whether he’ll continue making films into old age, the 45-year-old director replies, “I don’t think i will make movies after I’m 70.”

Uwe Boll doesn’t only get films made, he gets them made with name actors: Ben Kingsley, Christian Slater, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, John Rhys-Davies, Michael Madsen, Tara Reid, Kristanna Loken, Til Schweiger, Leelee Sobieski, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Billy Zane, Edward Furlong have all appeared in Boll’s films. There some big stars in there who have worked with big directors in big movies.

And even after suing Billy Zane over a BloodRayne dispute, the director was somehow able to talk him into starring in this year’s Attack on Darfur. Even Michael Madsen, who got ill and injured during BloodRayne, said he’d work with Uwe again “if he called me tomorrow”.

But what’s his secret? Compromising photos? Blackmail? Ha! No. “I send the script and make an offer,” Boll explains. “Actors and Hollywood Managers and Agents know that I’m a real filmmaker and [don’t]agree with the internet bashing. They watch my movies and don’t hate them.”

It’s more than that. Uwe Boll turned himself into a brand-name filmmaker. Ask any internet inhabitant, and they’ll know his name, just like they’ll know Steven Spielberg or Michael Bay. Granted, they know Boll’s name for different reasons, but they do know it. Name recognition breeds media exposure (like this!), which creates interest in what he is doing.

Boll didn’t build a name through himself by a series of bad films. There are tons of directors that create b-movies. No, Boll – who has a PhD in literature – is smart. The man is a master of early 21st-century publicity stunts: beating up internet critics or calling Michael Bay a /”fucking retard”.

“Boll uses the internet as a true communications medium,” says Vince Desi, CEO of game developer Running With Scissors (They made the Postal game). “He interacts directly with the fans and the press. He is very public about his personal opinions about actors and topics he makes movies on.” He knows how to push buttons, how to elicit a response. For example, Postal, based on the Running With Scissors franchise, was one of the first films to attempt to parody the 9/11 tragedy, causing a firestorm of controversy. The movie featured a 9/11-style attack gag that caused two hundred theatre goers in New Jersey to walk out on a free Postal screening. Distributors balked, and the pictured went from a planned 1,500 screens to a mere 21. “All my movies are about life and death, and they are all radical,” Boll says. “I’m not the political correct guy.”

Boll considers himself a serious filmmaker, as he should. He’s made several serious films like Attack on Darfur and Rampage – with those films getting solid reviews. Next February, Boll’s take on the Holocaust, a film titled Auschwitz, will debut in Berlin. The director describes it as a “day in the life” at Auschwitz, stripped of traditional Hollywood heroics. “There is a documentary element in the film with interviews with German school kids,” Boll says, “and it is shocking to see that they don’t know a lot about this chapter of German history”.

Meanwhile, Boll continues work in Canada, directing action star Dolph Lundgren on the set of In the Name of the King 2, the sequel to the film he made based on the Dragon Siege games, readying a new social welfare drama and appearing in video game Postal III. Uwe Boll is a hard-working filmmaker and brilliant producer. His grandest production so far is himself, Uwe Boll.

[Lead Pic by Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images, Pic, Pic, Pic, Pic] ]


  • I stopped reading as soon as it mentioned Prince of Persia being bad. Watched this last weekend and thought it was awesome.

    • I agree. Prince of Persia was a fun film, close enough to the game to be considered faithful yet different enough to stand on it’s own. Even my folks (Who don’t get video games and are very picky about movies) loved it.

        • Prince of Persia wasn’t just bad, it was painfully boring, I tried watching it twice, once in the evening and once in the middle of the day, and I fell asleep both times.

          Even worse was the fact each member of the persian royal family seemed to get even more un-Persian as they were each introduced.

      • Close enough to the game to be considered faithful?

        Yeah, that’s about right, if we ignore the bit where the price had a name, they changed the princess’s name. They introduced a buttload of new and ALSO irrelevant characters. The movie’s story was ENTIRELY irrelevant to the games.

        It was an amusing movie, but not in ANY way standout, as well as being almost totally unrelated to the games.

    • I thought the same reading this article. We’ve reassed Boll and found him to be the same manipulative, exploiting film maker, drunk on his own infamy that he always was.

      It almost defies the law of averages that he hasn’t managed to make a single remotely decent film.

      The sooner he dissapears forever the better.

    • I agree with the comparison but not the conclusion. It was up there with the firs RE flick, but the first RE flick was completely retarded.

      I maintain that the only two good game to movie adaptations are: The DOA movie, purely because it was stupid as hell and knew it and worked as kung fu T&A film. and the anime version of Street Fighter which was very awesome and had that Chun Li shower scene that my 14 year old brain permanently mentally recorded.

  • I certainly can’t argue with his appraisal of Michael Bay.

    Hey, his movies suck, but whatever. I think the upcoming Uncharted film will probably indicate that he isn’t the only person who can turn a great game into a god-awful movie.

  • sorry had to laugh at the list of actors he’d gotten in his movies.

    Aside from Stratham and Kinsgley, and maybe Michelle Rodriguez (MAYBE) it reads like a who’s who of washed up desperate actors.

    I mean really, we’re surprised people can get someone like Edward Furlong to appear in there movies these days?

  • “Boll considers himself a serious filmmaker, as he should”

    I think the author has been sharing Boll’s crack pipe.

  • Does Boll EVER watch other movies? He probably should because if you’re using tax breaks to make films, he has no excuse to at least make a cult hit

  • Yes, just like Atkinson’s greatness stemmed from his naive, stubborn clinging to his own outdated views, and Jack Thompson’s greatness came from his inability to see reality.

    Greatness? Not even close. So he’s a “brand name”? So what. So is Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Nicole Richie and countless other incredibly talentless wastes of air.

    I have more greatness in my morning dump.

  • While he may be able to pump out an endless stream of shit, that doesnt mean he deserves respect for it. He is just wasting our time, the actors time, and a whole lot of money in the process.

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