Retro Review: BloodRayne
In honor of April, this month we’re going to review movies with the word “Rain” in the title. Or Rayne, as the plucky writers over at Majesco decided to name her. Who says great literature is dead? Last time out we reviewed Purple Rain, a movie that didn’t know it was awful and turned out to be pretty awesome instead. Will BloodRayne turn out the same? (Hint: Absolutely not.)
Starring Kristanna Loken (of Terminator 3 shame), Ben Kingsley, and Michael Madsen, BloodRayne tells the story of the half-human, half-vampire Rayne, who uses her powers to slay monsters. If this sounds familiar, you’ve either played the games of the same name, or seen virtually any other Vampire movie made in the last 20 years. Rayne is searching for her father, Kagan (Kingsley), a vampire lord who killed her mother. Along the way she gains help from a trio of humans led by Michael Madsen, called the Brimstone Society, who reveal to her Kagan’s plans to use ancient demon relics to become immortal. Immortal-er? Something. And Nazis are helping him, because of course they are. If a zombie somehow wandered into this plot, you’d have the trifecta of bland movie villains.
The story is simultaneously hackneyed and irrelevant: you’ve seen this all before, but director Uwe Boll whips you from scene to scene so quickly without warning (or coherence) that the story could literally be about anything. Plot points seem to only exist in order to get the camera from action pieces to sex scenes and back again. It might actually be more amusing to play the movie on mute and have your friends attempt to put together a plot based on what crazy stuff is happening. Most ludicrous story wins. It will still be better than the actual film.
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A greater tragedy than the uninspired story is the criminally wasted cast. Besides Loken (who was cast in Terminator because she could out-robot Arnold himself), the cast is packed with talented actors who aren’t strangers to the silly action films. Michelle Rodriguez was very good in the first Resident Evil movie. Billy Zane is pretty much a staple of mindless action fare. Ben Kingsley can play a fantastically malevolent villain if allowed, and Michael Madsen’s default setting is cool as a cucumber bad ass. Hell, Kingsley and Madsen even made the less-than-awful movie Species together, which also featured a mostly topless and gorgeous European actress who had super powers thanks to being half-human and half-monster. They should have been old hands at this schlocky type of film by now.
The failure of getting even one good performance out of any of the cast falls equally to the script and the director…and as Boll both edited the script and directed, you can kind of guess who is to blame for the wooden acting on display here. The big name stars seem like just Marquee-bait, luring in unsuspecting fans. I just want to know what terrible secret Hollywood has over Ben Kingsley that they can consistently get him to make some of the worst movies imaginable. Does he hate being remembered as Gandhi that much?
Uwe Boll is frequently credited with making the most atrocious video game licensed movies in history. BloodRayne is actually pretty faithful to the source material, so it’s hard to fault him for taking wild liberties this time out. Only the rosiest of tinted glasses could look back at the BloodRayne franchise of games and call them groundbreaking.
Is BloodRayne the herald of the apocalypse that many reviewers believed it to be? I would argue no…it hasn’t even enough ambition to be monumentally bad. It’s not heart-achingly bad in the way the Blade series of movies is bad. It isn’t even that feeble “bad, but in a cool way” kind of trash that the Underworld series consistently strove for. BloodRayne is just boring and mediocre in every way conceivable. Its sex isn’t sexy, its action isn’t invigorating, and its vulgarity isn’t shocking. As the Book of Revelations puts it: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I spit you from my mouth.” With so many horrendously awful Vampire movies out there, there’s no reason to settle for this bland gruel.