Sunday, January 16, 2011

Far Cry

Well, I did it again.  Despite the fact that Uwe Boll has made some of my least favorite movies of all time, I once again chose to watch another of Boll's directorial efforts.  This one, Far Cry, like so many of his movies, is an adaptation of a video game.  So, right off the bat, this movie has two strikes going against it: an awful filmmaker and a video game pedigree.  On the bright side, I didn't see this movie listed as one of the worst of 2008, so maybe the man has progressed a bit.  Or maybe it never had widespread theatrical release.

The film opens with the camera serving as a point of view for an unknown attacker; the screen looks somewhat digitized, but that will actually make sense later.  The fact that I can make that assurance already makes this far better than the last Boll movie I reviewed.  The attacker is going after some soldiers in a jungle area; the attacker is strong, beyond fast, well-camouflaged, and extremely deadly.  What's going on with all this?  Well, it seems that a mad scientist, Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier), is experimenting on humans in an attempt to create a genetically enhanced soldier.  Oh, those mad scientists...those rascals sure do love to make affronts to God, don't they?  Kreiger has succeeded in making a deadly and nigh-indestructible creature that is bulletproof (except for the eyes and mouth) and super-strong, but these former men are now uncontrollable homicidal beasts.  "Uncontrollable" and "homicidal" are two adjectives that the military doesn't like to hear when applied to their soldiers, so Krieger's funding is halted until he can figure out how to make these things follow orders.  Creating desperate mad scientists by withholding funding is usually a sure-fire way to have consequence-free scientific advances, so this can't possibly go wrong.

Meanwhile, Valerie (Emmanuelle Vaugier), a reporter, is on her way to Dr. Krieger's island; her uncle Max (Ralf Moller) is going to leak her some information so they can blow the lid off Krieger's inhumane experiments.  To get to the island, she charters a boat from Jack Carver (Til Schweiger), an ex-military bad-ass who now spends his time drinking and chartering his boat for tourist whale watching sessions.  It seems that Krieger knew of Max's treachery, though, and was ready for Valerie's arrival; they try to kill her and somebody has the wise idea of firing a missile at Jack's boat.  Bad idea; they have, unsurprisingly, messed with the wrong temporarily retired bad-ass.  Now, Jack has to search the island for Valerie, because...um...she's on the way to another boat?  I'm not sure on that one.  When Krieger discovers that Valerie is still alive, he sets his super soldier monsters after her, which has the unintended side effect of having the uncontrollable homicidal creatures killing everyone they come across.

I will give credit where it is due; this is by far the best Uwe Boll movie I have ever seen.  The action sequences are almost decent and some of the special effects shown (like the close up of the super soldier's bulletproof skin) actually looked good.  The action scenes, while pretty generic, are competent, I can actually tell where characters are in relation to each other, and I can even get the gist of what is going on in the plot.  Of course, these are pretty basic filmmaking skills, but Uwe Boll is arguably a less competent version of Ed Wood (no offense to the late Mr. Wood).  So, consider my support for his work here in the same way you would applaud the efforts of a child who no longer has to wear protective goggles when using a fork.  

Aside from the almost mediocre action sequences, Far Cry does a halfway decent job with its cast.  Til Schweiger (who you may have seen in Inglourious Basterds) has the potential to be a pretty good action hero.  That isn't too surprising, since he has drawn more audiences to German theaters than any other German actor; take that with a grain of salt, though, since there are still over one hundred American and British actors that are bigger stars in Germany.  Still, Schweiger is believable as a tough guy, and that is what his role demands.  Udo Krier, while not a great actor, always makes a pretty decent villain; that's probably because his hollow eyes show the emptiness of his soul.
Eat all you want, Udo.  Nothing will fill the void where your heart should be.

Of course, those are only two of the film's actors.  There are many bit parts in the film, and they are all played by amateurs (I assume).  Emmanuelle Vaugier doesn't have that excuse.  Her job in this film is to be the predictably sassy reporter, or a damsel in distress at the very least.  As far as her "distress" goes, her "I'm scared" face is suspiciously similar to my "is this cheese moldy?" face; she often looks somewhat inquisitive, while frowning slightly.  As for her sass...well, it's not her fault that the dialogue is terrible, but she has zero comedic timing and couldn't hit a punchline with a big, red wiffle ball bat.  And what was going on with her face?  Vaugier is normally a reasonably attractive woman, but she has some unflattering swollen lips, Vulcan-style eyebrows, and what I can only assume is clown mascara.  Gross.

The biggest problem with this film is its tone.  Sure, you can argue that the lackluster direction and acting makes this a bad movie, but the tone is what sets it apart as truly awful.  I don't know how familiar you are with German humor.  It supposedly exists, although I imagine that it is often paired with the punchline "YOU LAUGH NOW!"  Well, this movie, like all Boll films, is largely a German production.  Unfortunately, this film tries to be a funny action movie.  It doesn't work out well.  To give you an idea of the "humor" in this film, I don't think it is a spoiler to announce that the hero has sex with his female lead.  After the dirty deed, though,  Jack asks her how he rates, on a scale of 1 to 10; she gives him a 2.  Hilarious, right?  Well, they go back to that joke at least six more times and, eventually, Jack explains the joke out loud.  Even worse, this guy is a supporting character:
He's the guy who supplies this island with sandwiches.  But guess what?  He loves to eat his own sandwiches more than he likes to work!  Because he's fat!  And he talks to his sandwiches like he's seducing them.  BWA-HA-HA!  And his catch phrase seems to be "Oww...my back!"  Get it?  He's fat!  And somehow, despite dozens of armed soldiers and some nigh-indestructible super soldiers, this character survives.  These attempts at humor are not sporadic; the script is filled with them.  Not a single actor in this film makes any of these lines work, either.  If you, like me, cannot stand comedic failures in cinema, be warned that this film might cause you to vomit through your eye sockets.

Sure, there's more wrong with the movie than just the humor, but that is certainly the worst of it.  Oh, you want to hear more?  Fine, here are the low-lights.  The super soldiers are far deadlier in the opening scene (when you don't see them) than in any other scene; he evil doctor gives the plucky reporter the dime tour of his highly illegal operation before trying to kill her; the super soldiers look like buff versions of Powder; the super soldiers are unkillable, except when you shoot them in the eyes or mouth...unless the plot decides that some soldiers can survive being shot in the eye.  This is a terrible movie, so none of this should be surprising.  Still, some of the movie is almost watchable, so kudos to Uwe Boll for his first not completely unwatchable film.

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