Monday, May 19, 2008

Candles, Blood, and Bad Career Moves: the Torments of BloodRayne



Thanks to the marketing division of Majesco Games of Microsoft (makers of the new Xbox 360 system), you now have the option of watching BloodRayne, an entire movie based on a video game. Sort of in the same vein as Aeon Flux, only far more dismal and working with a smaller budget, BloodRayne relies upon poorly choreographed violence, much blood, and two bewildered recognizable name actors, Ben Kingsley and Michael Madsen, to justify its existence on this earth.

Within the dark, red, candle-lit cinematography of the film, we are supposedly in eighteenth century Romania. Ben Kingsley plays Kagan, an incredibly powerful vampire seeking world domination. You can tell this because he gets the largest set of the film, a big chamber with columns and torches everywhere. He looks quite physically pained to be in this film, like a bug wriggling under a magnifying glass, and he makes orders to his underlings such as “Kill her” and “Send out your best spies” while wearing a bizarre half wig over his bald head and lots of white pancake makeup. At some point in the past his character raped and murdered Rayne’s mother while Rayne watched as a child while hidden in a fireplace.

Rayne is now in her early 20s and played with bland good looks by Kristanna Loken. She, too, probably has some angry words for her agent, for even though she got the lead part in a nationally released film, it can’t do any good for her career to be associated with this project. Wearing a dyed red hair-do, Rayne runs around in an anachronistic super heroine outfit that looks like a running bra over jeans decorated with red leather strips on the inside thighs. The film begins with her enslaved to a traveling carnival as a freak because she is a dhampir (half-human, half-vampire) who lives off animal blood and has occasional fits of blood rage which causes her to bite people indiscriminately. When one of the carnival men tries to rape her in her sleep, she hits him over the head with a bottle, and then runs off, biting and dismembering several people as she goes.

Fortunately, Michael Madsen as Vladimir, with long black hair and another pained expression on his face, searches for Rayne with his good buddy Sebastian (Matt Davis) and Katarin, a tough fighting babe played by Michelle Rodriguez. Whenever anyone goes anywhere in this film, they hop on horses and we get treated to long swooping shots of what looks like the landscape over the Cliffs of Dover with a red filter over the sun. After several of these scenes, the film then cuts to an establishing shot of a castle, and we move indoors again, where we see many candles, more blood, and the occasional ogre who needs to have his head smashed in so that Rayne can get to a talisman.

For comic relief, the former pop star Meat Loaf shows up wearing a long grey fright wig. As Leonid, he lies surrounded by real Romanian prostitutes, because (according to the Internet Movie Database), the German director Uwe Boll found Romanian prostitutes cheaper than real extras. Soon enough, Michael Madsen shoots out the stained glass windows in Leonid’s abode with his cross bow, exposing the fact that yes, Meat Loaf is yet another vampire, and therefore the sunlight reduces him to a sizzling mass of ashes on the floor.

In its bloody clumsy way, the film goes on and on. Rayne travels around Romania, sees a fortune teller, and learns that in order to get back at her evil powerful vampire dad, she needs to assemble a heart, a rib, and an eye all left scattered around by another dead vampire to give her magical powers. At one point, everyone in the anti-Kagan Brimstone society gets killed, so we get treated to even more bloody corpses with the whispers of “Promote the Xbox, promote the Xbox” over the soundtrack, or maybe not. When things go badly, and Rayne gets imprisoned in Kagan’s dungeon with her buddies, she says “Even though I may not have a chance to prevail against him, I do not intend to stop fighting for a second!” Good going, Rayne. Now call your agent.

No comments: