Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance (DVD)
Starring Natassia Malthe, Zack Ward, Michael Pare, Chris Coppola, Chris Spencer
Directed by Uwe Boll
Released by Toucan Cove
For about the first 15-minutes I was in almost utter disbelief as to how much promise BloodRayne 2: Deliverance was showing. A tubby little newspaper reporter who bares more than a passing resemblance to Popeye's hamburger-loving friend Wimpy has arrived in the burgeoning frontier town of Deliverance, Montana with hopes of getting many a tale of just how wild the Wild West really is to send back home to his big city paper. To his dismay, Deliverance proves to be a quiet little community, though the town mayor keeps trying to assure the reporter that the soon-to-be-finished railroad connecting them to the rest of the outside world will make Deliverance a happening place.
Stuff's about to happen sooner than anyone expects: Billy the Kid has come to town, and this outlaw happens to be a vampire. He quickly takes control of Deliverance with a plan to begin building a vampire army; once the railroad is built and the population explodes he can use it as a pipeline to keep turning more and more cowboys into vampires to be used as his minions.
Like I said, for the first 15-minutes, BloodRayne 2: Deliverance was pretty darn good. Unfortunately, Uwe Boll had to then go and ruin it by having BloodRayne show up. I know what you're thinking; how can you possibly be complaining about the character the movie is named after showing up and ruining the movie? I can complain as such because the character of BloodRayne sucks - not just in a vampire sort of way either. The fact that she's even a dhampyr (half-human/half-vampire) barely even factors into the plot. I don't think she bares her fangs but once and her signature blades are rarely used. Had Boll dropped the videogame tie-in title, renamed the lead character, and simply portrayed her as a mortal female who hunts vampires in the Wild West, I highly doubt anyone would ever known this was supposed to be a BloodRayne movie.
Natassia Malthe (Elektra, Skinwalkers) pretty much picks up exactly where original BloodRayne (review) Kristanna Loken left off: nearly every bit as uncharismatic and much better at looking the part than acting it. Malthe's definitely better seen than heard and I don't just say that because I find her more attractive than Loken. Though Malthe isn't nearly as stiff with her line delivery as Loken was, she still doesn't sound at all convincing when trying to play tough. This is especially bizarre given Malthe played a similar role in the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Bloodsuckers (review, DVD Title: Vampire Wars) and made such an impression on me in the role I recommended in my review of that film that someone should cast her in another live-action Vampirella flick. Instead, she picked up the reigns as the second incarnation of Uwe Boll's bastardization of vampiric video game vixen BloodRayne and brings nothing to part aside from looking mighty fine in mid-riff baring spaghetti western attire. Malthe's best moment comes in a scene that requires some comedic playfulness on her part, but that's just a few seconds in a movie that otherwise requires her to play a hard-as-nails superhuman fighter type. Yet every line of cheesy tough talk out of her mouth comes across as completely forced and phony.
Then again, maybe her tough grrrl vampire warrior princess persona coming across more like child-like play-acting was by design. As was the case in the first BloodRayne, our heroine is once again portrayed as one of the least superheroic superheroines ever. Easily rendered unconscious with little more than being bonked on the head with a rifle butt, sitting idly by while watching a fellow vampire slayer get hanged, escaping her own execution and donning her signature blades only to dive into a river in order to swim to safety, needing to be nursed back to health by legendary lawman Pat Garrett (a nearly unrecognizable Michael Pare) after suffering wounds that hardly seemed life-threatening, and then having to round-up a posse to assist her because she alone is no match for less than a dozen vampire cowboys; it reached the point that I found myself wondering if Boll just has a thing against strong female leads. It's hard not to get the impression that someone, whether it be Boll himself or the film's three screenwriters, has intentionally set out to undermine the title character. It's the only explanation I can figure as to how Uwe Boll has now made two movies based on a video game about a sexy ass-kicking vampire superwoman in which the title heroine has been transformed into a wimp who talks a better game than she delivers and can't seem to get anything done without a man's help. Just like with the first film, she wouldn't even have defeated the main villain during the final showdown had she not gotten an assist from a mortal male at just the right moment.
Less-than-heroics aside, there's not much by way of action in the film to begin with. I kept watching and waiting for that moment when BloodRayne would finally cut loose with her blades and start laying waste to vampires left and right - that moment never comes. She barely uses her blades at all, relying primarily on a pistol that fires vampire-killing bullets, which she also uses sparingly. BloodRayne 2: Deliverance is another one of those movies where the characters spends much more time talking about what they should do next than it does on the scenes where they actually do what they were talking about. What action there is often staged in an unexciting manner and someone desperately needs to explain to Uwe Boll that just because you use slow motion during action scenes does not mean you've actually made the scene more thrilling, suspenseful, or poetic.
Anything resembling an actual story quickly dissipates after the first half hour and the movie grows tedious with every passing minute thereafter. By the time the climactic high midnight showdown goes down I couldn't have cared less. So many minutes are wasted on a crooked preacher giving a fire & brimstone sermon as a lead up to his less-than-subtle call to fill up his collection plate, yet the script can't even be bothered to expand upon Billy the Kid or how he became a vampire or his diabolical scheme or Pat Garrett's role in all of this or, at the very least, give us any reason to give a damn about our title character aside from being who the movie is named after.
And hearing the same Italian western musical riff over and over becomes maddening after awhile. During the finale especially I just wanted to yell, "Learn a new chord already!"
But for all the negatives there are some positives to be found. It's a good looking movie with quality production design, wardrobe, and the scenery really captures the flavor of a Wild West frontier town. Credit to Boll and company for coming up with a couple clever visuals involving vamps not having reflections in the mirror.
There's some decent supporting work, particularly from Chris Coppola in his underutilized role as the big city newspaper reporter.
Zack Ward (star of Boll's upcoming Postal) as a bloodsucking Billy the Kid gets to ham it up like he's Viggo Mortensen's kid brother. Much like the movie's overall tone, Ward's performance teeters between playing it straight with some menacing zeal and half-heartedly camping it up without ever settling on one or the other. He's still fun to watch which makes it a shame his character turns into an afterthought after his introductory scenes. Ward boldly declares in a behind the scenes interview extra on the disc that he gives a better performance than Ben Kingsley did as the villain in the first BloodRayne. There's absolutely no arguing this is true. However, the late Marlon Brando in his current state could have given a better performance than Oscar winner Kingsley did in the first film; and keep in mind that Brando's body was cremated.
And, hey, at least Natassia Malthe is very pretty.
When it comes right down to it, BloodRayne 2: Deliverance has pretty much the same problems as its predecessor but on a lower budget with even less action, gore, and boobage.
Speaking of which, the DVD is billed as an "Unrated Director's Cut" for reasons I simply do not comprehend. Unlike with Kristanna Loken, Boll could not persuade Natassia Malthe to get naked. Though there is a jail cell scene involving her and young male Brimstone member, it (sadly) does not suddenly erupt into door-banging sex. Even the blood and gore is but a drop in the bucket compared to the first film. There is a basic R-rated DVD cut being offered in addition to this "Unrated Director's Cut" but for the life of me I have no idea what the difference could possibly be. Billing this as an "Unrated Director's Cut" seems to be little more than a dishonest marketing ploy. The DVD case also describes the film as "A Heart-Stopping Adventure" and “Exhilarating and Action-Packed!" So pretty much the whole marketing of this film is one giant lie, eh? Even the plot synopsis on the back includes the line, "Scene after scene, her death-defying stunts with knives and sling-blades blaze a trail of mayhem for her villains." I do believe there was one very brief scene that fit that description.
But it is a loaded DVD, that's for certain.
For starters, as with the DVD release of the first film, you also get a BloodRayne PC video game. The original's DVD came with a BloodRayne 2 PC game disc and now part two comes with a PC disc of the original BloodRayne game. My guess is if Boll follows through on his promise of making a third BloodRayne film the DVD will come with a PC game disc for City of Heroes or some other game like that since there currently is no third installment of the game.
As for the movie disc, the first thing you'll be greeted with upon putting the DVD in will be a trailer for Boll's Postal. That's the only trailer on here, there’s not even one for the movie itself.
They seemed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to including extra footage. We get three extended scenes that add so little you can barely even tell they're extended. Even worse, they included 15-minutes worth of duller than dirt deleted scenes comprised mostly of characters riding on horseback. Somebody needs to tell the people putting this DVD together that B-roll footage does not qualify as “deleted scenes”.
The inclusion of a digital BloodRayne comic book - you click the screen to turn the pages and zoom in on specific panels - seemed to be a bad idea to me if only because seeing all this only further pounds home how much Boll has continually failed to deliver on the property. Just one look at this digital comic book and it becomes glaringly obvious just how off nearly every aspect of this film is by comparison.
Then there are behind-the-scenes interviews with pretty much every major player in the creation of the film both in front of and behind the camera. Boll himself repeatedly invokes the names of John Ford and Sergio Leone (keep dreaming!), Malthe comes across a tad clueless, and it's quite funny to hear even Zack Ward more or less concede that the first BloodRayne movie was worthless. It would have been really nice if someone had bothered to give an honest answer as to why the hell this sequel even exists.
Finally, there's a commentary track with Uwe Boll and director of photography Mathias Neumann. It's mostly very dry talk about the technical aspects of the film's making, that is up until Neumann has to abruptly depart taking part in the commentary about a quarter of the way in. From then on it really is the Uwe Boll show, with talk of how harsh the Canadian weather was, complimenting the actors - most of whom had appeared in previous films of his, and then - as is par for the course with Boll's commentaries - it becomes typically self-aggrandizing with his now tired proclamations of victimization as he suddenly gets really defensive about criticism directed at him and his films, internet critics in particular. I'd like to think he'd gotten most of that out of his system after he beat up some of us in a boxing ring; I guess not. He is right though about not being the worst filmmaker in the world. Heck, he's not even the worst German filmmaker in the world, certainly not as long as Ulli Lommell keeps churning out his cheap garbage productions.
But for me what really made the commentary something special was listening to Boll loudly yawning all throughout. I don't know if the man was just really tired when he recorded it or if even he was more bored by his own movie than I was, but a director yawning repeatedly during a commentary track is a very bad sign that sends an even worse message. His yawning grew more frequent, as did the patches of dead air as he became less and less talkative. Eventually he just stopped talking altogether; no sign off or anything indicating he was done that I heard. He said something about a particular scene being the set-up for the film's climactic battle and then not a peep out of his mouth for the last 20+ minutes of the film. I kept waiting to hear the sound of snoring. Did he finally fall asleep? Did he just say to hell with it? I don't know what happened or why but I've never (not) heard anything quite like that on a DVD commentary track.
Something like this is just one more reason why for all the hate Uwe Boll usually has directed his way that I find myself saying the world of cinema is much more interesting with him in it. If Uwe Boll didn't exist, we'd have to invent him.
But BloodRayne 2: Deliverance is still pretty lame.
2 out of 5
2 out 5
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