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Uwe Boll is the dark god of bad video game movies.
Since Hollywood has yet to make a good (or even decent) video game movie, that pretty much makes him top dog. Based on a light-gun arcade game—one of those ones in the movie theater lobby where one somehow acts out masculine shoot-em up fantasies while wielding a hot pink pistol—House of the Dead employs a ridiculous premise. Teens in search of a hot island rave ask a smuggler to take them to said rave. Of course, everyone on the island is dead. Because there are zombies.
The thing to know about Boll, who is German, is that he can keep making movies because of a German tax shelter loophole he takes advantage of. By getting his financing from the German government, he is essentially able to write-off most of the film's losses. How a man smart enough to do that can continually make such unintelligible films is in itself a mystery.
Wing Commander (1999)
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Based on a series of space f!ghter computer games, Wing Commander is a relic of the era when some studio exec thought Freddie Prinze Jr. was a viable star. It was a short-lived era indeed.
Prinze Jr. took over the series' lead role, Lt. Christopher Blair — a character played in computer game cut scenes, by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill. Alongside him were Saffron Burrows and Matthew Lilard. The only thing less underwhelming than the cast was its Star Wars-lite battle scenes.
In the Name of the King (2007)
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"Uwe Boll here again. For the latest in my masterclass on how to single-handedly destroy cinema, I decided to take a not particularly amazing computer game and turn it into a even less amazing movie. Lord of the Rings rip-off you say? Mein Gott, how short-sighted of you. Someone had to do it, didn't they? And who knew Ray Liotta could play camp so well? He's not all tough-guy this, I'm-going-to-kick-your-face-in that."
"Ok, so maybe the movie could have done better at the box office. But you know what they say, you can't lose if you don't play the game."
"That's what they say. Right?"
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Remember in the summer of 2007, when you saw Die Hard with a Vengeance and you asked yourself if it was possible for villain Timothy Olyphant to show fewer facial expressions? Then you saw Hitman and you were all like, "Oh, I guess it is possible."
As Agent 47, an a.ssassin betrayed by his former organization, Olyphant plays bald very well which, if you've ever played the Hitman video game — or even just seen the box — you understand is essential to the movie. It's also the film's most illogical part. Whose genius idea was it to create a super-secret organization of bald a.ssassins with bar codes on the back of their heads? That dude's identifiable a mile away!
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The Doom PC game was a juggernaut when it came out. Following up on the success of the Nazi first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D, Doom took off like a rocket to a Hell-spawn infested Mars. It remained the standard for first-person shooters—where the player sees everything from the perspective of the game's character—for years.
The film version, starring The Rock, employs a scene shot from this perspective, something that was rarely employed in cinema before The Blair Witch Project's nauseating stretches of handheld camera. In said scene, The Rock's character goes around shooting everything in sight, the barrel of his gun sticking suggestively up from the bottom of the screen. It's like the audience as a whole is playing Doom on a really big screen. Fanboys loved it. The rest of the movie might as well not have even existed.
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It's an Uwe Boll trifecta! BloodRayne, a film about a half-human, half-vampire (Terminator 3's Kristanna Loken) out to k!ll her father (Ben Kingsley, in one of his "I've already got an Oscar, screw it" performances), this video game adaptation actually makes one feel sorry for Michael Madsen. The man's not made for period pieces outside of grimy '70s cop movies. Neither is Michelle Rodriguez, for that matter. Seriously, where was the casting director on this one?
BloodRayne 2 (yes, they somehow made another) went straight to DVD, though its premise—vampires in the Wild West—is much cooler than this Castlevania ripoff.
Speaking of, when are they going to make a Castlevania movie? We'd be all over that.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
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It says something about the three Resident Evil films (this being the second) that the most frightening property in video games could not produce a single even halfway scary film.
Why pick on Resident Evil: Apocalypse and not one of the other two films? Because, like any sequel, it's an enabler. Like the friend who says, "Sure, I'll have a few brews with my alcoholic pal. Why not?," sequels to bad movies just enable further sequels to be considered. With poorly choreographed f!ght scenes and unapologetically non-frightening zombies, RE: A is B-A-D.
Double Dragon (1994)
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Int. Studio Conference Room. Day.
Exec #1: Two words. Video Games. This stuff is great, guys. We don't have to option some book or something, all we have to do is pay some video game company and we can do WHATEVER we want. This is the way to go.
Exec #2: But what about that Mario Brothers movie? Wasn't that a pile of crap?
Exec #1: It was the first one. The trailblazers always die of dysentery.
Exec #3: So whatta ya got for us then?
Exec #1: Double Dragon. It's a game where two twin brothers kick a.ss. I mean, there's more to it, but that's the basic plot.
Exec #2: Are they Asian? Because, you know, Double Dragon makes it sound Asian, and we can't cast two Asian leads. That's just not going to happen.
Exec #1: Well, their names are Lee. So...
Exec #3: Listen, all we have to do is find one vaguely Asian guy as the second one, and then cast a real lead, and we'll pass them off as half-brothers or something.
Exec #2: Can we get the bad guy from Terminator 2? I really liked him...
Street f!ghter (1994)
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What a sad thing it was for this movie to be Raul Julia's last screen performance. Julia, who died before Street f!ghter hit movie screens, plays General M. Bison, the villain in the arcade game. Which is fine. The problem with this film is ostensibly the problem with any video game adaptation—the desire to please video game fans at the expense of narrative cohesiveness, character development, or visual beauty. It's the reason there hasn't been a single good video game movie yet.
Street f!ghter, based on the f!ght-em-up coin-op, tries to use as many of the game's characters as possible, resulting in a mish-mash of nonsensical combat scenes. And, in a moment reminiscent (in a bad, probably not even purposely referential way) of Carrie, Raul Julia's fist smashes through a pile of rubble after he has been well defeated. Sequel!
Super Mario Bros. (1993)
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Several of those involved consider this to be the single worst "creative" project they've ever worked on.
A Colombian (John Leguizamo) and a Brit (Bob Hoskins) play two Italian plumbers from Brooklyn. Dennis Hopper plays a half-lizard, half-man, which actually is only slightly different from the roles he usually plays. At one point, Hopper uses the Super Scope, an actual Nintendo game console peripheral, as a weapon. There's so much wrong with this movie that The Wizard — which features a Rainman-like child savant trying to make his way to California to play Super Mario Bros. 3 — is actually the superior Super Mario Bros. movie.
The first video game movie, and possibly the worst.