Uwe Boll, the German filmmaker best known for his film versions of video games, is helming two movies about World War II. Both films were shot back-to-back. One is based on a video game and features zombie Nazis. The other?
The other is based on history and features things far worse.
The first flick, BloodRayne: The Third Reich, sounds like typical Boll fare — a low budget cinematic adaptation of a video game. Boll has said from the beginning that he is planning to do the BloodRayne movies, based on the video games, as a trilogy and that the third one will end in the Second World War.
Previously, Boll has helmed movie versions of Alone in the Dark, Far Cry and Postal.
His second film is titled Auschwitz and is set against the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The recently released trailer shows Uwe Boll dressed as a Nazi as he leans against a gas chamber. Inside, men and women, young and old, perish.
The trailer is explicit and disturbing. It shows horrors like teeth being pulled from a dead body and a little boy being incinerated. In short, it festers in the nightmare that was the Holocaust. [Note: the trailer is not work safe.]
"I made the movie because there is not one movie made what shows the Holocaust really was — a killing factory," Boll says. "All the movies made showed us the special people...the heroes. But nobody has focused on the subject matter." Boll says he plans to include a documentary in the film as well.
The subject matter is most unpleasant. There have been numerous documentaries dealing with the Holocaust, but it seems Boll is referring to movies like Schindler's List. When Schindler's List was released in the early 1990s, there were critics, including Holocaust survivors, who derided Spielberg's portrayal of Oskar Schinder and its SS officer Amon Goth. According to Stanley Kubrick, the Holocaust is about 6 million Jews who died, and Schindler's List is about a couple of thousand who survived. Jean Luc-Godard said the movie was "Max Factor".
Criticism aside, Schindler's List was a critical and commercial success. Make no doubt, this is a landmark film. But we're not simply talking about film here, it's the Holocaust. And Uwe Boll — who doesn't quite have the technical wizardry, the sure hand or the heart of a Steven Spielberg — is making a movie about the Holocaust. There have been better directors who have approached the subject material, and, yes, there have even been far worse.
In an age in which some people continue to deny the Holocaust, he says, "I do not think that it is so bad to show that Auschwitz happened." Considering that the Jewish New Year has begun, the timing for reaching such an arresting trailer could have been better.
Uwe Boll is, if anything, a brilliant provocateur. He's made a name for himself. He gets his films made. Boll knows which buttons to push, and he pushes them well. In recent years, his films, however, have gotten increasingly political. He's taken on topics like 9-11 in Postal. That was dark comedy, though. Recent films like Darfur have shown that he has moved beyond parody. But have his films?
David Hayter is a rarity. He has made a name for himself in voice games as a voice actor and in movies as a Hollywood screenwriter.
With a foot in both worlds, no doubt he has a unique point of view on video game movies.
Over at the MTV Movies Blog, Hayter gives his opinion on a laundry list of game movies. Here are the highlights:
"It was really... something else, that film. I was working on a Black Widow adaptation at the time and I looked at all these female-driven action movies of their day and came across BloodRayne with Sir Ben Kingsley. That was unbelievable in the very truest sense of the word."
"That's an example of-when they have done it in a decent way, adapted a video game into a movie, what they've really done is just sort of taken the elements of the video game and transferred them to film in a way that felt true."
"My wife is a huge fan of the Resident Evil movies and I did enjoy the first one. It had a cool attitude and I think that it did capture what Resident Evil is, tonally. I've played a lot of the Resident Evil games and I really like [their tone]. There's something cool and weird about that world that goes beyond zombies and beyond just the T-virus. They captured sort of a neat thing there."
"I think the Tomb Raider movies had a problem... in that I don't think [the filmmakers] really understood what it was that made Lara Croft so appealing, and made that world and those games so appealing. [It seemed like] they thought it was just about the guns or the gadgets. To me, the idea of this character, this wealthy girl, being thrown into larger than life situations and having to deal with those things... that makes it interesting. Whereas in the movie, Angelina Jolie... was perfect casting, but they sort of made her this Teflon superwoman who wasn't affected by the danger because she knew she wasn't going to die, and that sort of took away some of the drama of it all."