Saturday, May 17, 2008

B-Movie Czar Uwe Boll Speaks Out on Anti-Gaming Flick Campaign

The director that the Web loves to hate offers an illuminating first interview after a nearly $1 million sponsorship to shut down his video-game adaptations, comparing the (growing) anti-Boll petition to the Obama campaign, talking trash (literally) to his geek critics—and, believe it or not, showing off the lighter (albeit still curse-laden) side of the man who may be the world's worst filmmaker.
Popular video-game titles like Alone in the Dark (left) have turned into less-than-stellar popcorn fodder at the box office (right) at the hands of director Uwe Boll (center). His response? "Alone in the Dark was sold like two and a half million times for like 20 bucks or 30 bucks a copy. You have something to show to investors and say, 'Look, if everybody bought that game, why nobody should buy that movie?'" (Middle photograph by Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

Uwe Boll is mad as hell, and he’s still gonna take it some more.
A little background, for the uninitiated few left out of the rebellion sweeping the Web over the past month: Uwe Boll (pronounced you-vuh ball) is the reason that films based on video games get such a bad wrap. The 43-year-old German B-movie writer and director is the (somewhat addled) mind behind big-screen adaptations of Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead, BloodRayne and Postal, due out May 23. Next to such box-office stinkers, Resident Evil seems like Citizen Kane—hell, even Street Fighter holds up against Enter the Dragon.

On April 7, the very outspoken Boll made a very public challenge to his critics in the blogosphere and beyond: Hand him a petition signed by 1 million people, and he’ll stop making movies—period. Sensing marketing gold, Stride Gum announced last week that it would offer a free pack of gum (estimated value: 80 Cents) to each of the million haters if the anti-Boll list hits its mark (as of this writing, the “Stop Dr. Uwe Boll” petition was surging past 275,000 signatures, while “Long Live Uwe Boll” was just over 5,000).

Bribery, Boll calls it. The fix is in. And this is why he’s mad as hell.

“Look, this is absurd,” Boll told me last week in his first extensive interview since the gum-in. “It would be like Obama says, ‘I pay 10 bucks for everybody who votes for me.’”

The angrier Boll got in our half-hour chat, the more his thick accent degenerated into that caricature of the pissed-off, pumped-up German—part Rainier Wolfcastle from The Simpsons, part Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live circa 1988, part Conan O’Brien’s impersonation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. And nothing makes Boll angrier than those hundreds of thousands of critics. Sure, nearly all of his 20-odd movies may be nearly unwatchable (those same critics point to IMDB’s “Bottom 100” list, where Boll sports three of the user-generated worst films of all time). But this is a man who simply wants to entertain—"sex and gore and big stars" are all he’s really been after since 1991’s German Fried Movie.

So how does Uwe Boll get his groove back? For starters, Stride has got it all wrong: No number of e-signatures is going to cut off Boll’s passion for original fllms—just put the nail in the coffin on gaming adaptations. For his part, Boll is holding out for his own sponsor: “Look,” he says, “I wait [for the moment] that Budweiser gives free six-packs out for the people that sign the pro-Boll petitions.”

To be sure, there are plenty of sub-par filmmakers out there, from Hamburg to Hollywood (everyone pumped for Rob Cohen’s upcoming summer opus, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor?). But perhaps no living director makes for a more appealing target to bloggers and their commenters (save Michael Bay). Uwe Boll is the spastic kid in your classroom: Attack him, and he’ll push back—with often-hilarious results. He’ll curse. He’ll scream. He’ll try to fight you. Boll may turn gaming classics into popcorn smut, but he certainly doesn’t back down.

And if you’re a self-made critic seeking worldwide fame, there’s no surer way to earn yourself a footnote on Wikipedia than to go after him. Case in point: In 2006, Boll challenged his harshest judges—plus fellow auteurs Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery—to a boxing match. Four of them accepted and, in an event dubbed “Raging Boll”, all four of them were knocked out. Did hand-to-hand victory overcome film-to-film snobbery? “These critics? Yes,” he tells me. “Not all the critics. And I always said, to be honest, I’m absolutely not against a bad review of a movie.”

It was around the Raging Boll smackdown that Boll underwent something of a transformation. For years, his work flew under the radar, existing largely as a haven for investors taking advantage of loopholes in the German tax code—cash out on the hits, recoup losses on the flops. But in 2005, widespread abuse of the system forced the government to shut it down, and Boll’s days of risk-free filmmaking came to a close. That’s when he went beyond turning video games into an asset (“It was an opportunity to do different genres and to have marketing and a built-in audience”)—and honed his rage-aholic persona.

“He used to get really mad when people would make fun of him,” says Devin Faraci, editor of geek movie site “He seems to have figured out that this is good for him, because it gets his name out there and it makes his movies something you have to see because they’re so bad.”

Sure, Boll still meets any mention of his legions of detractors with seething rage: “You get trashed in the garbage can from some geek who have no clue what they’re talking about.” But amidst the targeted attacks and four-letter words are moments of laughter and some genuine—if aloof—sadness: “In [BloodRayne], for example, is Geraldine Chaplin and Billy Zane and Meat Loaf and Michael Madsen and Ben Kingsley—maybe one of the best casts. ... They were writing a page only about me, and this is dangerous.”

At one point, Boll asked me to hold on while he asked for directions. On the other end of the phone, I heard an unfailingly polite man graciously ask a woman for proper directions to his destination. Back on with me? Right back into that now well-honed public persona, one cartoonish soundbite after another. As Faraci says, Boll may be a “wildly incompetent filmmaker,” but he’s one who has found a way to play his own game—not just screw up your favorite one.

Alas, I play along, asking for his official response to Stride’s sponsorship and the anti-fans it represents—the masses trying to force this unfortunate auteur into premature retirement. “Go back to mommy’s coffee table and eat your sandwich and grow up and try to have your own life,” Boll says, “or try and make it better.”
Original here

Death Race Reader's Review!

Trustworthy reader "Sebastian" managed to go to a screening for Paul W.S. Anderson's remake of Roger Corman's cult classic "Death Race," which stars Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson, Ian McShane, Natalie Martinez, and Jason Clarke.

Jason Statham leads the cast of an action-thriller set in the post-industrial wasteland of tomorrow, with the world’s most brutal sporting event as its backdrop. A penitentiary full of felons has inspired the jailers to create a grisly pastime ripe for lucrative kickbacks. Now, adrenalized inmates, a global audience hungry for televised violence and a spectacular arena come together to form the Death Race.

After reading the review it seems Paul W.S. Anderson might be the actual right person to helm Spy Hunter.

Here is what reader "Sebastian" tells us.

I went into Paul W. S. Anderson’s Death Race with pretty low expectations, a good rule of thumb for any of Anderson’s films. Surprisingly, however, I actually left the theater in a good mood as I felt I had actually been entertained for the past ninety minutes. In fact, had I paid ten bucks to see it, I wouldn’t have felt ripped off, another shock considering Anderson’s recent work.

Your typical dystopian not-too-distant future (although I gleaned this from the script – the film isn’t too clear about time period). So we start in the last leg of the infamous Death Race, a high-stakes race where teams of inmates are given killer cars to drive around and, well, kill each other. A masked individual named FRANKENSTEIN holds an impressive lead while MACHINE-GUN JOE, guns after him. Frank’s co-driver, HOT FEMALE CON, tries to use the last of his weapons to fight off Joe, but they’re all clogged. She ejects and, in the end, Frank wins, but his car is destroyed in the process.

Now we go to some recently closed factory where JASON STATHAM, playing the only character he ever plays, is suddenly out of work. He goes home, not the least bit downtrodden because his wife is hot and they have a newborn. They smile, make love, and swear everything will be okay. That’s when a guy with a DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTIC (a tattoo or scar or something) sneaks into the house, kills the wife, and frames Statham.

So JS is taken to the toughest prison in the world where he meets the WARDEN, Joan Allen playing her character from the Bourne movies on steroids. As it turns out, Statham used to be a hot shot racer and the warden wants him for the Death Race. But here’s the twist – she wants him to play someone else.

The character of Frankenstein is a hero to the inmates and the most popular racer to TV audiences. As luck would have it, the real Frank, some guy who was so horribly disfigured that he wore a mask, died recovering from wounds from his last win.

The warden offers Statham an early release if he dons the mask and wins a few races. Obviously, he agrees and meets his crew, led by a surly, streetwise IAN MCSHANE channeling Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.

As he prepares for the race, Statham meets the other psychotic including, Frank’s nemesis Machine-Gun Joe. Meanwhile, he notices the fellow with the distinguishing characteristic is actually a prisoner and finds out that the warden just might be a little shiftier than anyone had thought.

With the odds are stacked against him, Statham dons the mask and fights to win – and stay alive – at any cost.

Off the bat, let me say that this is obviously not a high-caliber (no pun intended) film. That being sad, it is entertaining. The script by J. F. Lawton, writer of such gems as Under Siege, Blankman, and shockingly enough Pretty Woman (I can see the poster now… DEATH RACE – from the writer of Pretty Woman), is actually not bad and this not bad feeling really translates on screen.

The characters are fairly well developed and relatively engaging. Statham plays the same role in nearly every film – Death Race is no different – but he’s perfectly cast and brings his usual badass charisma to the role. Some strong supporting characters add some nice color to the story; Joan Allen really chews on the scenery but Ian McShane almost steals the show, turning in an actually decent performance. Tyrsese also holds his own, as does Statham’s hot co-driver.

So overall, the story actually has a little depth and a few nice twists, so long as you are willing to suspend your disbelief for the length of the film. But no one is going to go for the story – they’re going for the action, which is the one thing Paul W.S. Anderson is fairly good at doing.

The action won’t let you down. The races are gory and exciting with shaky camera, quick cuts, and explosions galore. It’s clear Anderson wants the audience to have fun with this – and the audience I saw it with got into it. If you go expecting decent pop-corn fare, you’ll have fun and leave fairly entertained.
Original here

Harrison Ford Ad-libbed Classic Scenes in ‘Raiders’ & ‘Empire’

About to make its international debut this Sunday at the 61st International Cannes Film Festival, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of this year’s most highly anticipated movies. Bringing back together everyone’s favorite trio — Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Han … I mean, Harrison Ford — the movie also stars everyone’s favorite (or not) Shia LaBeouf (literally born a day before my brother).

But all the focus is on the ageing star of the film, Harrison Ford, and recent interviews have once again shone light on his ability to adlib some of history’s greatest and most recognizable cinematic lines.

Speaking to the LA Times in a recent interview, Ford recalled his feelings on what has since become an Indy legend. During the filming for the first film, 1982’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ford came down with food poisoning, just at the time that he was called to engage in an extended fight scene with a swordsman dressed in black. Suffering and not up for a lengthy filming, Ford suggested that Indy make a gesture of weary exasperation, then shoot the attacking swordsman instead.

“Yeah, I guess the black swordsman has become a bit of a Hollywood story,” Ford said. “I almost wish it hadn’t. I’m not so crazy about the audience having that much awareness of the process that went on. I just want to enjoy the movie and I’m not sure that helps.”

Ford also improvised the line, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage” after his lady love Marion tells him he’s not the man he was 10 years ago.

Swapping over to probably Ford’s most famous role, Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, we find that one of the most iconic moments of Solo’s scene time was also adlibbed. Just as Han Solo is about to be lowered into the carbon freezing chamber in The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia tells Han that she loves him. His only response summed up the character perfectly: “I know.”

According to Ford, that off the cuff line led to an interesting debate between himself and Lucas.

“It was such a contest between George and I about whether that was appropriate or whether the audience would enjoy that line or not, to the point where he made me go to a test screening to sit next to him to prove it was going to get a bad laugh,” Ford apparently recalled with a smile. “And it didn’t. It got a good laugh. So it stayed in.”

Some say that Crystal Skull is going to bomb while others think that the trio of Spielberg, Lucas, and Ford simply value the franchise too much to let it do so. Either way, clock up another geek movie for 2008.

Original here

5 Superhero Movie Scenes They'll Never Let You See

t's a tricky business adapting comic books to film. The screenwriter has the unenviable task of cramming decades of backstory into two hours, and difficult decisions have to be made.

These cuts, however, are not the difficult ones. Here are five story lines from upcoming comic book films that the studio won't let within a thousand miles of the screen.

The Incredible Hulk Nearly Gets Man-Raped
In this 2008 sequel/reboot of Ang Lee's Hulk, Bruce Banner (played by Edward Norton) attempts to keep his anger in check while accosted by the US government and his archenemy, the Abomination (Tim Roth). Previews indicate they have figured out what the first film did wrong, and set about doing completely different things wrong.
What We Probably Won't See:
How about this little vignette from '80s Hulk #23 in which Bruce Banner attempts to keep his anger in check while being accosted by two marauding homosexuals at the YMCA.
Evidently, Luellen and Dewey here aren't the friendly dudes the Village People sang about, so Bruce Banner has to think fast! In comic books, as in life, honesty is always the best policy:

We readers may laugh at Dewey's naivety, but remember, when you live in the Marvel universe, you run into crazy shit every day. You never know when you'll spot Galactus at the Cinnabon or catch the Juggernaut stealing your mail. And not even the most depraved locker room rapist will feel good about himself the next day knowing he anally violated, say, Captain America.

So better safe than sorry. If the guy says he's a superhero, just walk away.

The Submissive Wonder Woman

A live-action Wonder Woman film has been in the works since 2001, but is currently on hold until the Justice League film finishes production in 2009. Australian supermodel Megan Gale is rumored to be the babe behind the bullet-proof bustier in what seems destined to be an unavoidably terrible movie.

Before we go any further, if you think we're going to pull a bunch of Wonder Woman panels out of context and mock her as some kind of bondage-loving super-lesbian ...

... you're wrong, because they're not out of context. Wonder Woman was created in 1941 by psychologist Dr. William Marston, who believed that bondage had a leveling effect on gender relationships. We're thinking his bedroom saw its share of Wonder Woman costumes over the years.

But still, that would hardly fit under the category of things we "won't see," because we're actually guessing you will see at least one hot woman get tied up on screen, if not several. Hell, Catwoman has nothing going for her but fetishism, and the studios didn't hesitate to write the check for that one.

What We Probably Won't See:
The film will likely not give us the early version of Wonder Woman, who was the kind of cringe-worthy, air-headed stereotype that was still acceptable in the '40s.

In fact, when Wonder Woman first appeared as a member of The Justice Society in 1941, the group made her their secretary (we're not kidding).

It was years before Wonder Woman got revamped as a badass feminist hero. So if they ever do a "back to its roots" reboot on this franchise, we're guessing they won't go all the way back.

Wonders indeed, Wonder Woman. Wonders indeed.

Ant-Man Has a Way With the Ladies

This dinky superhero fought alongside Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk as member of Marvel Comics' premier super team, The Avengers. Ant-Man's powers unsurprisingly revolved around ants. He could shrink to the size of an ant, communicate with ants, and wore a chrome hat that sort of made his head look like an ant's head. OK, it's not the greatest idea for a superhero.

Director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) recently announced that he has completed a first draft of an Ant-Man feature film. If Simon Pegg isn't tapped to fill those tiny ant-pants, we'll eat our hats.

What We Probably Won't See:
Ant-Man's arch-nemesis was curiously existential. Instead of battling the Orkin Man or a pair of size 10 Keds or something, Ant-Man (who in real life was scientist Henry Pym) constantly grappled with his own insecurities. Such a small man complex is to be expected when A) you have shrinking powers and B) you hang out with the Hulk, whose penis is the size of a fire extinguisher.

Rather than drown his sorrows in alcohol (like Iron Man) or an endless supply of nubile tail (like Wolverine), Pym dealt with his self-esteem problems in the least superheroic way possible: he beat his wife.

Mind you, the "Ant-Man is a spousal abuser" subplot was not something future writers ignored--it became the hallmark of the Ant-Man character, so much so that when The Avengers were relaunched as The Ultimates in 2002, Ant-Man was still doing the Ralph Kramden routine:

On the other hand, Ant-Man's marital bliss was pretty damn disconcerting too. Feast your eyes on this tableau from Avengers #71:

See those droplets dappling Ant-Man's skin? That ain't royal jelly, kids.

The Doom Patrol's Monkey-Fucking Robot

Depending on who you talk to, this DC Comics super-squad was either a rip-off of the Fantastic Four or ripped-off by the X-Men. Perhaps this is because we've heard this same plot over and over again. A team of superhuman outcasts (blah, blah, blah) genius team leader (yadda, yadda, yadda) society fears them (blah, blah, blah) leotards.

In 2006, Variety reported that screenwriter Adam Turner was writing a Doom Patrol vehicle, but the film is currently stewing in development hell. Remember, superhero movies are like locusts--it took 25 years to get Spider-Man off the ground.

What We Probably Won't See:
The Doom Patrol's most famous archenemies, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, shared a mutual interest in evil and, um, each other. This may not seem too extraordinary until you realize one was an uber-intelligent simian and the other was disembodied grey matter who occasionally stole a robot body.

That's right, we mean you, Sting in Dune. Apropos of nothing, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain recently died in the comics. For their villainous deeds and carnal impropriety, we presume they are in Hell. Gorilla Hell.
The Adventures of Tintin

Though not a superhero per se, Tintin is one of the world's most popular comic characters. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are helming a CGI-animated adaptation of Belgian cartoonist Herge's boy adventuring serial, due for a 2009 release. Yes, we're thinking they may sell some merchandise on this one.

What We Probably Won't See:
Unless Spielberg and Jackson wish to commit career suicide, they best keep clear of any reference to Tintin in the Congo, published in the good old racist year of 1931. This comic has the unique ability to offend 99 percent of humanity, making it more or less the Mein Kampf of the funny pages. There's something for everyone in here to be pissed off about, from animal lovers (yes, that's him filling a Rhino with gunpowder and then detonating it) ...

... to the entire continent of Africa ...

... to AMA-certified witch doctors.

We further suspect that the Tintin film will avoid any plot overlap with the 1999 bootleg parody Tintin in Thailand, a comic that gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "boy adventuring."

Original here

Goofy Beauties: Even Stunning Women Look Silly Sometimes

Deep within the human psyche lies an innate desire to gawk at photos of celebrities looking just as unglamorous as regular people. It's even rumored that an early draft of Darwin's "The Origin of Species" included a shot of a hungover Mary Todd Lincoln wearing sweatpants coming out of the Starbucks on Melrose.

In keeping with this instinct, Asylum presents a gallery of beauties looking goofy. Like Darwin's editor, we also decided to cut the first lady out.