Uwe Boll. To movie fans, this name sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. His movies are so reviled that it carried over to his person. So would you believe me if I told you that he really isn’t all that bad a director? No? Well, find out why I think he’s not that awful… and why he still is. Kinda.
Uwe Boll is an interesting person. He directed his first movie in 1992. It’s called German Fried Movie. On IMDB.com, it holds a rating of 1.5 stars out of 10. That’s pretty damn bad. Many a director would pack it in and go «Well, I tried, but this isn’t for me» only to never direct a movie again.
But not Uwe Boll. Since then he’s gone on to direct 31 more movies and took his career that started as a bad director in Germany to the USA where he continued to be a bad director. In 2003, he discovered video games and started making widely reviled video game movies. The first entry in his frankly baffling oeuvre is House of the Dead.
House of the Dead is a long running light gun video game series where the player’s job is to point a plastic gun at a screen in an arcade and shoot enemies on screen. A year before Uwe Boll made his movie, the third part of the series came out. It looked like this:
Boll went to work. His final movie looked awful. In the following video clip. There’s a bit of blood and gore, but it nicely illustrates everything wrong with the film.
The movie holds a whopping 2.0 out of 10 on IMDB. Critics hated it, audiences hated it. Reviews were so bad that to this day, no company in Denmark distributes it.
The Director Who Defies Economics
Economy is a simple thing really. Good products and services will last in a market dominated by supply and demand. In a simple example: A family plumbing business that has recently celebrated 25 years of being in business must have done something right. Because if the business didn’t do something right, then the clients wouldn’t have kept on giving the business any money.
But here’s where things get strange. The entire 90 minute movie titled House of the Dead cost $7 000 000 to make. Somehow, mysteriously, it made $10.2 million in the USA alone. And that’s the thing. Most of Uwe Boll’s movies turn a profit. This is not just a one-off where audiences didn’t know what they were in for when watching an Uwe Boll movie. Quite some of his movies actually were successful enough that Boll managed to get funding for sequels, despite abysmal reviews. How he does it is anyone’s guess, but it’s assumed that he knows someone who’s super rich and has some money to spare and doesn’t mind losing up to $30 million per movie.
Let’s look at his filmography as a director in terms of IMDB ratings.
If this graphic is to be believed, Uwe Boll is actually getting better at making movies. Mind you, the graphic up there only goes up to 7 out of 10, but that’s just because he’s never made a movie that scored higher than a 6.3. Statistically speaking, Uwe Boll with his average of 3.5 stars out of 10 per movie, is a bad director.
So somehow, he flips the entire economic principle on its head. He delivers a product that isn’t even mediocre, even if we’re being very generous, and somehow keeps getting funding to make more. This does not make any sense.
But the weirdness doesn’t end there. During his career, Uwe Boll has directed people like Jason Statham, Jürgen Prochnow, Dolph Lundgren and Ben Kingsley. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
The Wrong Movies?
Uwe Boll rose to infamy with his video game adaptations and his blatant disregard for anything they established on consoles or PC, such as setting a movie based on a video game set on a tropic island in northern Canada.
Looking at his other movies, there are two movies that stand out. 2009’s Rampage and its sequel Rampage: Capital Punishment are both rated at 6.3 and they’re quite different from anything Uwe Boll is infamous and reviled for. So that leads me to the theory that Uwe Boll isn’t an inherently bad director, but he has been making the wrong movies. He needs to make movies that are closer to his heart.
The Rampage Franchise
The Rampage trilogy of which two parts have been released are something that are very close to Uwe Boll’s heart. Because, you see, Uwe Boll is an angry, angry man. And also a boxing fan. He’s so angry that he once went and challenged a man named Richard Kyanka, alias Lowtax, founder of website Something Awful as well as other critics to a boxing match and won.
Uwe Boll’s anger is mostly wrapped up in the Rampage films. The two movies that are out, Rampage and Rampage: Capital Punishment are thinly veiled rantings by Uwe Boll with a movie crafted around them, starring Brendan Fletcher as serial killer and author expy Bill Williamson.
The movies are, surprisingly, watchable.
The ratings of 6.3 are fairly adequate. It’s not a misunderstood classic nor is it complete trash. This is mostly due to the solid work by Brendan Fletcher who plays Bill Williamson, a serial killer. His rants are stupid, unreflected and sometimes even absurd. But most of the time, they just manage to tiptoe the line between nonsense and satire. Fletcher is frequently cast by Uwe Boll and is, looking at the body of Boll’s work, too good an actor.
The plot of the Rampage movies is simple. In part one, Bill Williamson is sick of the human race, sees the main problem in complacency and overpopulation and decides to just go and kill everyone. So he builds himself an armoured suit and kills everyone in his hometown.
In part two, Bill Williamson has apparently reconsidered his political outlook, ranting about how the government is no longer on the people’s side, bringing up names like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, who are all famous whistleblowers that have released secret documents to the world that the government didn’t want the people to see and are now persecuted. The thing with this is, Uwe Boll is not entirely wrong when he says these things, but the unreflected and shallow way in which Bill Williamson presents these facts and what he interprets into them make the character a profoundly stupid extremist who acts on impulse and not any kind of intelligence.
The Thing about the Suit
Bill Williamson sports a suit that is made of kevlar and other bulletproof and fireproof materials, making him into a person who can’t be stopped by anything but blunt force applied to him. Looking at the suit, everyone who has ever built a costume – for Cosplay or otherwise – realises that the suit is absolutely not what it is said to be.
Of course, no director ever will build a fully functioning armour suit, but this one is especially obvious. Because if you look for cheap, tactical looking gear, you’ll sooner or later come across a brand called Rothco. It’s good stuff and used by bouncers and other professions in need of tactical gear but not military itself. Now, I’m sure that there’s a fair bit of Rothco gear in use with the military, but I have neither numbers nor confirmation on that one.
So the armour appears to be an unknown plate carrier outfitted with fake kevlar shingles as well as a black longshirt underneath. And then half the Rothco catalog.
What to Watch
I recommend watching the Rampage films. They’re not good in the big screen Hollywood sense, but they’re pretty good, angry films. They have a bit of a low budget feel and it genuinely feels as if Uwe Boll not only cares, but also has something to say, even if it’s a mixture of satire and nonsense.
The best part of this is that there’s a third movie coming. Boll tried to have it made using crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. But the campaign didn’t really take off and ended up being not too successful. If you watch the trailer above, you’ll notice that there’s a voice saying Audiojungle in regular intervals. That’s because Boll is so cheap, he didn’t purchase the music off of stock music website AudioJungle. It’s amazing. But Boll only wanted $100000 to make the movie. Brendan Fletcher is back as Bill Williamson too. The campaign ended with only 6375 dollars pledged by 152 people.
Poor Uwe Boll, right? I mean, he’s got a bit of a half-decent material he wants to pursue and asks for help. And nobody helps him. Well, the problem is that Uwe Boll is also a bit of a dick sometimes. The boxing match wasn’t done because Boll is a fun character who thought that this might be a fun pastime, but because he was angry. After the failure of his campaign, he released this video titled fuck you all.
In this, he once more repeats that he’s a genius, makes a lot of money – which is true – and that everyone else sucks. Not true. It’s just that too few people are either impressed by Rampage or like Uwe Boll.
Luckily, there’s this video, that appears to be a trailer for the third movie, to be released next year. Hooray!