a critiQal film review BloodRayne (2005)

  • DVD

Plot: An evil has spread across the land: vampires. But there is one who can stop them: Rayne (Loken). A Dhampir, she is the offspring of Kagan (Kingsley) - the leader of the vampires - and a human, who shares their thirst...and most of their weaknesses. Now she must find the three talismans - the heart, rib and eye of the first vampire - to become powerful enough to have a chance at defeating her father.

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  • ...the only reason to watch this film -yet another awful Boll-directed video game adaptation - is to witness Kingsley's villainous vampire, and sadly, his time on-screen is severely limited

Since I’ve always been a fan of vampire flicks, when I heard BloodRayne was hitting DVD shelves, I pretty much knew I was going to have to check it out. However, the last couple of years have introduced tough competition in the vampire as good guy realm – namely the Blade (1998) films. Blade (1998) was able to amp up the action, while maintaining a great storyline and involving characters. While the sequels didn’t quite live up to the original, they were still decent enough to warrant plenty of attention. So how would BloodRayne compete in this arena?

From what I’ve heard, the video game the film is based on is worth checking out, but I was unsure if it would be able to translate well to the big screen. Director Uwe Boll hasn’t exactly been known for his commercial success, as previous films House of the Dead (2003) and Alone in the Dark (2005) were in theaters such a short time they may as well have gone straight to DVD. With BloodRayne spending only a little more time in theaters than his previous efforts, the trend doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

With a one-and-one record of success in our book (Alone in the Dark (2005) was decent, House of the Dead (2003) was idiotic), BloodRayne could be the movie to make or break Uwe in our eyes. So, would this video game adaptation be decent enough to be compared favorably with Resident Evil (2002) – or would this film leave a bitter taste in our mouths?

Kristanna Loken has the chance to show audiences a bit more emotion than she was able to show the last time most viewers saw her – going one-on-one with ol’ Arnie in Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003). In that film, her character was incapable of expressing emotion, and she was able to portray a vicious, unfeeling killing machine surprisingly well. As BloodRayne‘s title character, she is able to express on camera hurt, anger and all of the other emotions she was denied previously. She does a decent enough job of conveying her emotions to the viewer – but she herself remains a bit standoffish, and the viewer probably will never be able to connect with her on-screen.

It’s astonishing how a director with only lukewarm films manages to keep pulling in talent, but Uwe Boll’s films never seem to be short on names, and BloodRayne is no different. Unfortunately, the filmmakers pit legendary actor Ben Kingsley against relative newcomer Loken – a mismatch, to say the least. Kingsley’s villainous vampire easily establishes more of a rapport with viewers than Loken’s standoffish heroine, despite his limited screen time. While looking rather silly in his getup in this film, Kingsley manages to play evil almost as well as he plays good, and has a talent for drawing the viewers in, no matter how ridiculous the surroundings.

And then there’s Michael Madsen and Michelle Rodriguez. While Madsen’s over-the-top dialogue will have most viewers rolling their eyes to the heavens, Michelle’s character is never really explained, and her supposedly mysterious character will have viewers focusing more on what the heck her character is doing, rather than any acting skills she may possess. Both Madsen and Rodriguez are ill-used, and it’s surprising that ex-Reservoir Dogs (1992) Madsen and ex-Resident Evil (2002) and “Lost” (TV) castaway Rodriguez ever subjected themselves to appearing in the film. Quick appearances by Udo Kier, Billy Zane and Meat Loaf (billed as the utterly ridiculous “Meat Loaf Aday”) – along with a starring role for relative unknown Matt Davis – fail to add anything to BloodRayne either.

While BloodRayne has an interesting video game plot to back it up, Uwe Boll manages to turn the film into an almost total – yet unintentional – spoof of action films. With the characters so poorly fleshed out, the viewers connect more to the names they know rather than the characters of the film. With barely a chance to do that, the movie starts throwing action sequences out, apparently just to spice things up a bit.

Sure, there may be some sort of plot continuance reasoning behind the sequences, but it’s quickly lost during the scene, and BloodRayne – and the viewer – flounder to pick up the storyline again once the sequence has passed by. Add in the expected sex scene – after all, the hero or heroine needs to hook up with somebody in cheesy action movies (sometimes, as in this film, that’s only because guys will stick around for a chance at seeing female nudity no matter how bad the movie is).

So, what’s a good action movie without some great special effects these days, right? Unfortunately, BloodRayne proves that even a cheesy movie can have some cheesy effects. With a huge amount of blood flowing through the film, the effects must have concentrated long and hard on how to bring the numerous sword wounds to vivid – and gory – reality, right? Wrong. While the blood does flow quite a bit, the blood from the numerous wounds is obviously contrived, and causes most of the deaths of the film to look ridiculously fake.

Whether it’s a stab wound to the gut that gushes blood straight up from the stomach, drenching the victim’s face (?) to the surprisingly tiny amount of blood the main characters get on themselves for most of the film (despite the fact they do most of the killing), the effects look straight out of a teenage horror fan’s home movie – and not a very good one at that.

So, with the lack of a connection between the heroine and the audience, bad roles for both Michael Madsen and Michelle Rodriguez, almost every cliche of an vampire flick and cheesy special effects, does BloodRayne have any redeeming qualities? Only one…and his name is Ben Kingsley. While it’s not his best performance, even on his worst days he has the ability to connect with the audience and make them want to see more of him. Sadly, since the rest of the film is so awful, viewers may come to regret that decision as the film progresses. Stay away from this one if you can – it’s definitely not worth your time.

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