Sunday, 13 July 2014

IMDb Bottom 100 Review – Number 78 Alone in the Dark

Our first Uwe Boll movie, ladies and gentlemen, and it's a doozy. Feating two arguably great arguably contemporary actors, and many arguably decent CG effects, with an unarguably shitty script and beyond dispute abysmal direction, this flick brings us yet another horror story from the depths of the Bottom 100 vault. I've a feeling (based on sound knowledge) that it won't be the last Boll flick you will be reading about on here. But for now, let's have a critical and hopefully humorous gander at...


How I imagine Slater looked when he first read the script.


Let me just take a second here, and put Uwe Boll in perspective for you. First off, if you've been with me from the start, I think I can safely assume, that you have an affinity for crappy movies. Even my severely delude ego can't fool myself into thinking you are here for my wits and amusing observations. In that affinity for crappy movies, there is just no way you could steer clear of Uwe Boll. The German legend is renowned for adapting any god damn video game out there into a movie. For a long time I could not figure out why somebody kept letting this guy make movies, despite their infinitely shitty quality and poor turnover at the box office. I've watched a few of them before going on this here Bottom100 spree, and I hated every single moment. Each one of his flicks have bombed, and yet he releases disaster upon disaster into our cinemas, or rather straight to our DVD players. I finally managed to do some research, and it turns out, that he was exploiting a loop hole in German law, that stated that as long as you used a German crew on foreign soil to make a movie, almost the entire budget of the movie would be tax deductible. Thus, the German government paid for practically the entire movie, meaning the take at the box office and DVD sales, however mediocre they might be, were basically pure profit. From what I hear, people in the German government are wise to his scheme now, so with a spot of luck they'll close the loop hole, and Uwe Boll will find himself having a really hard time securing funds for his crappy projects. Which is as well, because I can't convince myself, that he actually thinks those movies are good. It's like a Lance Armstrong situation. Uwe Boll has defended his movies vehemently, to the point where he arranged a boxing match between himself and each of his 10 fiercest critics. So for him to come out and say it was all just a gambit, would be kind of a stretch. Unless the ever pleasant and neutral Oprah could coerce him out. We'll see. I'm not holding my breath.

I take my harsh words about Tara back. I forgot she wore glasses, which of course totally convinces me she's intelligent. 

So, Alone in the Dark. Based on a computer game by the same name, the movie deals with the daily life of Edward Carnby, detective of the paranormal. In this particular case, he's dealing with the return of evil demons, hellbent on ruling the world once again. Apparently they had ruled it before, but somehow lost their grip. A friend of Edward's dies, and while investigating this death, Edward encounters the head honcho of these evil spirits, called the Queen, and her influence on his mind is going to come back and cause problems for him later on. He stars unravelling clues left and right, and most of them leads him towards some fabled Shadow Island. Everything is looking grim, when he is suddenly aided by his ex girlfriend, genius anthropologist Aline Cedrac. There is some awkward back and forth between them, before they finally stick to the cliches, and work together, in order to solve the mystery before the Queen and her cohorts are unleashed onto our plane to rule with an iron grip. I don't know if they would rule with an iron grip, but I assume so since they are evil spirits and what not. It's seems appropriate behavior for evil spirits who deside world domination.

The movie opens with a full minute and a half of narrated text. That's how lame the plot is. It can't convey this by natural story telling. 

The spirits lead Edward and Aline to an abandoned mine shaft, where they have to race against time, along side a large group of soldiers who are now also involved, lead by the menacing Cmdr. Richard Burke. Working with and sometimes against the soldiers, Edward and Aline push themselves to within inches of their mental limits, in order to close portals or shut down rituals or whatever is necessary to prevent the Queen from entering our world. I can't even really remember how they managed to stop everything, but I've a feeling it involved last second stunts with cogs and wheels and stopping them. I was wholly detached from reality at this point, so memory doesn't serve as well as I'd like it to. Of course the games usually ended ambiguously, because there'd almost always be a sequel. The movie ended unambiguously, because Uwe Boll already had other projects lined up, and making a second one here just wasn't financially viable for him. Somebody else picked up where he left off though, but that's a different bedtime story that I, thankfully, won't have to delve into at this point. Amusingly enough, that flick isn't on my lift.

How I imagine the conversation between Christian Slater and his agent ended. I can't decide who's on top though.

Uwe Boll. Yes I know, I already went over him, but I don't think you really appreciate just how the hell this guy has made it in the business. And I don't mean made it like he is some hotshot director who would be offered the Lord of the Rings reboot. But he is big enough, that he can churn out movies fast and effeciently, and get somewhat big names to star in said movies. The first of his movies that I ever watched, was Bloodrayne. For some reason I had been convinced, that it was a legitimate action adventure featuring both Ben Kingsley and Michael Madsen as well as Kristinna Loken of Terminator 3 fame (T3 was shit, but she kind of held her own in it). As Bloodrayne progressed before my unsuspecting and, at that time, innocent eyes, I realized Ben Kingsley and Michael Madsen would never again be accepted as an automatic stamp of quality. Michael Madsen perhaps never was, but I thought higher of Ben Kingsley, I must admit. In Alone in the Dark, Uwe Boll also went for high profile names, albeit not quite as high as Sir Ben Kingsley. Edward Carnby is played by Christian Slater. I can't say I thought Slater's star had ever risen that high on the beautiful Hollywood night sky, but I can't deny that he's still kind of a big name. His stint in Archer has sort of bought him a little good will, because he's relatively hilarious there. But his parts in Interview with a Vampire or in Broken Arrow was never that impressive to me. Alone in the Dark is from 2005, so Slater had already been a big name for a while, and Uwe Boll had already had some massive failures. Slater's agent must be a magician, in order to trick him into accepting this role. Either that, or he had just lost everything in Vegas. Money is a powerful motivator, after all! Opposing Slater, in the role of the genius anthropologist we find the unlikeliest of people; Tara Reid.

Mr. Dorff. Has he ever played anything outside the spectrum of mild sociopath to off the hook lunatic?

I had the fortune of meeting Tara Reid in person once, and while she wasn't distinctly unpleasant, she sure looked like she had seen better days. Alright, it was out of the spotlight on an off night, so I digress. We shouldn't adhere to the standards of beauty as set forth by society. But all I'm saying is, she lives up to many of the rumors out there. I wasn't ever really a big fan of her as an actress. She did fine in one of the, arguably, best movies ever made; The Big Lebowski. But her role demanded her to pretty much just be Tara Reid, so I suppose that's not saying much. Besides that, there are the American Pie movies, which again aren't really setting the bar high in terms of decent acting, since it's a high school movie with awkward people doing awkward things. Buying Tara as a genius pH.d degree holding anthropologist, however, was a stretch of the imagination rivalling Dennis Rodman as a secret agent with a well established agency. It just did not seem believable, even in a movie where all illusions of reality had been flushed down the crapper five minutes into the opening credits. Everything she does in this drab flicker show is just neigh on hilarious, but for the wrong reasons. I don't really buy into the premise of anything happening in this movie, but her being an anthropologist is stretching it. She looks 18 for starters, and even though I'm aware that you can land a pH.d. right after your masters, meaning potentially, bar prodigy child syndrome level genius, you could be a 'doctor' at age 30, there is no way she could ever pull off pH.d. It just isn't believable. I don't know what it is about her. But I'm having none of it. So that's kind of ruined right then and there. Furthermore she plays into every classic stereotype in the book. Of course they are the unlikely paired couple with a history. And of course they end up both saving the world AND finding time for a little horizontal tete-a-tete. Because two people of opposite sex who spend more than a few hours together, are bound to fall in love, despite whatever hardships they are, or have already been, going through.


"This isn't getting a wide cinematic release? Why the fuck not?"

Overall it's safe to say, that Alone in the Dark falls perfectly in with the rest of Boll's catalogue. It's boring, slow witted with a plot full of holes and somewhat mediocre acting. The effects are fairly well made, which kind of adds insult to injury, because it shows that somebody who knows something did actually work on this project. All the harder to accept the rest is utter shit, when you know they have the capacity to make some of the things good enough. Boll really gives video game adaptations a bad name, with all this tedious shit he spurts out. Some of these games are popular classics aged like the finest of wine, and along comes Uwe and totally vomits over everything. I didn't actually play Alone in the Dark, so it's not like I really give a shit about the game not being portrayed properly. What I do give a shit about, however, is the simple fact, that Boll is allowed to soldier on, with failure upon failure in his wake. And that, somehow, he keeps attracting known names to his cause. I get that money talks, but does nobody have any god damn integrity anymore? What the hell is wrong with these people. Movies like this offend me. Yes, you read that right. I'm offended that Tara Reid said yes, because she could probably do better. OK that's a bad example. But Christian Slater could. I have to believe he could. Otherwise, what's the point of going on watching movies? Detective of the paranormal. Detective of the... reason this movie is.. made, more like.. Shut up, I totally had something for this!

The movie was dull enough for this screenshot to make the review. I had nothing to work with here. 

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