Judge Adam Arseneau cries, because he can't get far enough away from this DVD.
Based on the bestselling videogame.
Few writers for DVD Verdict get as much pleasure and accolades as those given the austere honor and privilege of reviewing the works of Uwe Boll. I'll be enjoying this.
Facts of the Case
Retired Special Forces officer Jack Carver (Til Schweiger) lives a calm, relaxing life as a boat captain, taking whale watchers out and getting drunk a lot. He especially enjoys not being shot at or blown up by mercenaries, which is exactly what happens to him once he agrees to take nosy journalist Valerie (Emmanuelle Vaugier) on a reconnaissance mission to an island in the Pacific Northwest. After they dock, Carver's boat is blown up and he is left for dead, with Valerie taken prisoner. It's up to a slightly reluctant Jack to put his old career training to good use, rescue the girl, and uncover the secret behind the island—a mad scientist named Dr. Krieger and an army of genetically modified soldiers and beasts.
Ah, there's nothing quite like settling down to a film, popcorn in hand, turning on the television, and being greeted by a handsome "B." The production logo stands for Boll, as in Uwe Boll: director, boxer, entrepreneur, moneymaking machine, auteur, and maker of some of the most god-awful niche films in the history of cinema. The man is an institution, in charge of cruelly dispatching every viable videogame franchise into the bargain basement DVD bin like a hooded executioner. He excels at his job. He is very, very good at what he does.
Boll's latest videogame adaptation-turned-sign-of-the-Apocalypse is Far Cry, adapted from the PC shooter of the same name from Crytek Studios and Ubisoft back in 2004. It tells the nuanced and riveting story of Jack Carver, an ex-Special Forces operative turned charter boat captain, stranded on a mysterious island packed with mercenaries. With naught but his wits to survive, Jack steals some guns and proceeds to shoot every living creature on the island dead, uncovering a fiendish genetic engineering experiment by a mad scientist pumping out super soldiers. Jack shoots all them too. Can you say "Oscar-worthy screenplay"?
Boll can't. To be fair, he doesn't really care. Say what you want about the quality of the man's cinematic output, Boll has found a niche—pumping out cheap videogame adaptations—and he's getting disconcertingly good at it. He buys the rights to up-and-coming videogames, often before they even get released to the public, throws together some funding and some German actors, shoots it quick and dirty, and releases the film, usually right to DVD. Fans cry out in terror as their beloved intellectual property is tarnished on the silver screen, but Boll has already moved on to his next three projects. The films are never hugely successful, but they don't need to be; they just need to turn a small profit. He shoots them cheap, fast, and without complication, and enough hapless fools rent his films to turn a profit, so he always gets paid, and he always gets funding for his next project. Is this an artistically callow way to make a living? Sure, but you kind of have to admire the sheer soul-rendering tenacity in which he churns these films out. Undaunted and unfazed by bad reviews and endless lambasting by the Internet, Uwe Boll makes a living by making movies, and that's more than most of us can say.
In a nutshell, this is Far Cry: cheap, fast, and without complication. The jokes are light and awkward, the special effects are rough around the edges and occasionally passable, and the pace is quick and devoid of almost all sensible plot development. This is no thinking man's movie—this is a "get in, blow stuff up, and get out" movie, with a German director on the back end cashing a sizable check for his efforts. It's a bad B-grade film, but it never really aspires to be anything else, so it's hard to fault its execution.
Til Schweiger turns out a surprisingly detached and enjoyable performance, mostly because he acts the part—he walks through the film in a drunken stupor of bad one-liners and action clichés, and just plain looks like he's having a good time, not taking the project seriously for a single moment. You're not going to be putting him up for any awards this season, but at the same time, his lighthearted performance actually makes the film much more enjoyable than a dull, overly serious performance would have.
From a technical standpoint, Far Cry is surprisingly passable, offering up an anamorphic widescreen transfer far better than a film of this caliber actually deserves to have. Black levels are acceptable, colors are natural, and detail is all solid. Contrast is a bit too high, but all told, this is a respectable transfer for a B-grade action film—we get all the satisfying explosions and bullets with little in the way of flaws or noise elements. Audio comes in a 5.1 surround and a stereo presentation. Dialogue is clear on both, but the bass wimps out somewhat—explosions that light up the screen fail to shake the room, if you get my meaning. Environmental details are well-placed, save for the obligatory gunfights, which don't really seem to correspond to on-screen action.
Extras are reasonable for a single-disc set, offering up a director's commentary track, a CGI featurette, a making-of behind-the-scenes featurette, some deleted scenes, and some promo reels for other Boll films you will not be seeing.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Far Cry is rubbish—bad special effects, a weak nonsensical script, and a disproportionate number of German actors who struggle to deliver their lines in English with any semblance of drama. If you were to do something daring; say, compare Far Cry to a smaller, more niche subsection of cinematic art—the works of director Uwe Boll, for example—what do we discover? Far Cry…isn't that bad, at least for a Boll film.
I'm…kind of frightened. Hold me.
Far Cry fails as a videogame adaptation; it was a rubbish idea for a videogame to begin with, and the script does it no favors. The film also fails as an action film, with laughably bad characters and a corny script. However, if you find yourself in the need for a good Uwe Boll film, and the pickings seem slim—like, you were captured by Jigsaw in Saw and forced to make the unthinkable choice—this is probably the closest the man is going to come to a decent film. Beggars can't be choosers, so you might as well enjoy it before your head gets chopped off.
A laughably bad film by all measures, but for a Uwe Boll film…somewhat of an improvement. Guilty, with a suspended sentence.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
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