End of an Error: Uwe Boll Announces Retirement from Filmmaking
Famous directors like Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino have repeatedly threatened early retirement from filmmaking. Notorious filmmaker Uwe Boll appears to be actually living up to the threat by announcing his retirement from filmmaking. Looks like we won’t have Dr. Boll to kick around anymore.
Having toiled in German cinema and the American indie scene for a short while, it was 2003 when the name “Uwe Boll” first exploded on the scene and almost instantly became revered/reviled as a modern-day Edward D. Wood, Jr. That’s what happens when you go around promoting your upcoming video game adaptation as the antithesis to the terrible Resident Evil movie, and the movie you then put out is the Plan 9 from Outer Space-quality magnum opus House of the Dead, a motion picture I am quite proud to say I paid four times to see in theaters.
Yes, four times! The first time I was as unsuspecting as everyone else. The second I dragged a friend, assuring him he would not believe what he was about to see. The third and fourth times were more along the lines of research because how else does one write a 30+-page dissertation riffing on how damn near every scene of the movie has something fundamentally wrong with it? I wouldn’t see another movie like it on the big screen until Dragon Wars came along a few years later.
From there, Boll would become known for a brief time as the auteur of several truly lousy movies based on fairly well-known video games. He followed up House of the Dead with 2005’s incomprehensible fiasco for the ages Alone in the Dark (which spawned an even worse non-Boll-directed direct-to-video sequel), that same year’s snoozer BloodRayne (which spawned two direct-to-video sequels of varying quality), the all-star box office flop 2007’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (which spawned two direct-to-video follow-ups so depressingly dull you realize the original was actually better than you thought), the offensively irreverent 2007 comedy Postal (which would have spawned a sequel if the Kickstarter hadn’t failed), and 2008’s Far Cry, which was a far cry from the popular video games on which it was loosely based.
Boll’s ability to get name talent attached to these video game-inspired films and theatrical runs for most of them despite them all bombing at the box office and garnering some of the worst critical reviews of the decade made for some amazing internet fodder: from his own personal outbursts against his critics to conspiracy theories bandied about that he was purposefully tanking his own movies because German tax loopholes would have him make more money by making movies that lose money to the legendary “Raging Boll” event where he convinced four of his staunchest critics to get in the boxing ring and get their clocks cleaned by Boll himself (a trained boxer).
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale was pretty much the end of his films getting wide theatrical releases. Since then, Boll concentrated primarily on producing and directing a slew of low-budget straight-to-video features, most of which fell into the category of sequels, horror flicks, and – the genre Boll seemed most passionate about even if the audience did not – politically-charged polemics primarily ranting that the government is amoral, Wall Street is corrupt, and the only way anything is really going to change is through violent upheaval.
This led to what many may argue to be Boll’s best film and most definitely one of his most controversial, 2009’s Rampage, in which a young man goes on a mass shooting spree as cover for a bank robbery that is actually a cover for a shock-to-the-system political statement.
Boll has also been claiming for years that the entire Hollywood movie system is broken, the one political argument it’s hard to argue against him on. This, he tells Toronto’s Metro News, is the primary reason he’s calling it a career.
”The market is dead. You don’t make any money anymore on movies because the DVD and Blu-ray market worldwide has dropped 80 percent in the last three years. That is the real reason; I just cannot afford to make movies.”
That and the fact that his last couple of attempts to use crowdfunding have failed. The last failed Kickstarter for Rampage 3 prompted a now infamous obscenity-laden YouTube tirade in which he denounced pretty much everyone and everything, culminating with a statement about how he didn’t need this shit anymore and had enough money to just go play golf for the rest of his life, which, I must say, sounded like an oddly 1%er statement from a man who has spent many years ranting against them.
Boll has been self-financing his own films for the past decade, particularly the more political ones, such as Attack on Darfur, Attack on Wall Street, Auschwitz, and what he claims to be his final film, Rampage 3: President Down.
“I never had people giving me money. I’ve been using my money since 2005, and if I hadn’t made the stupid video game-based movies, I would never have amalgamated the capital so I could say, ‘Let’s make the Darfur movie.’ I don’t need a Ferrari; I don’t need a yacht. I invested in my own movies, and I lost money.”
What he does need re his critically-lauded Vancouver restaurant Bauhaus and his film distribution business (so maybe he isn’t leaving show biz altogether).
Regarding his legacy as a filmmaker, Boll told the Metro News: “Now when I don’t make any more movies, maybe they’ll find the time to actually watch the movies, starting with Postal in 2005, the movies of the last ten years. They will see they were a lot of very interesting movies and a lot of movies that I think made sense and said a point about things. They deserve to be discussed bigger than they were.”
Perhaps that will happen sometime down the road. Or he’ll always be known as that director who made a bunch of really bad video game movies in the mid-2000s (Paul W.S. Anderson might already have that dubious distinction covered). Or he’ll be forgotten entirely while we continue our steady diet of Marvel/DC superhero movies.
Given the eccentric nature of Boll’s career, from bad video game movies to boxing his critics to inviting critics to help him make a funny version of one of his films that still wasn’t as funny as the original cut to playing Hitler and the coked-up President of the United States in his films to launching into scathing political commentaries via film, YouTube, and podcasts, it’s hard to imagine him fading into total obscurity. You realize there’s one hell of an Ed Wood-type bio movie to be made about this man one day, right?
Personally, I started out as one of his harshest online critics until I got to interview the man on more than one occasion and found him likable and someone I wanted to root for even if I didn’t think that highly of most of the movies he was putting out.
If this is truly the end of an era, then let me take a moment to say, “Salute, Uwe Boll!” — a true American original (even though he’s a German filmmaker who primarily worked in Canada).