Quick and dirty opinions, for those who don't want to read the whole thing:
+ Rayne's outfit
+ The scene of Rayne's heroic entrance, despite everything wrong with it
+ Hilarious dialogue like "Goddamn bear's back!" "This ain't the work of no bandits!" and "Vampiiiiiireessssss."
+ Natassia Malthe is kind of cute
- EVERYTHING ELSE
The little blurb on the Netflix envelope gives this introduction:
"BloodRayne 2: Deliverance
Things get even wilder in the already Wild West when Billy the Kid and his band of cowboy buddies - vampires one and all - arrive in Deliverance, Mont., to establish their kingdom. Now, it's up to the half-human, half-vampire Rayne to use her fearsome powers to stop them. Along for the ride is reporter Newton Pyles, whom Billy spares so he can tell the bloodsuckers' story."
I guess Uwe Boll assumes you will rely on Netflix to save you, because none of this is ever actually explained in the movie. There is an absolute lack of backstory. If you are unfamiliar with the plot of the games or the first movie, you will be completely lost. And even if you are familiar with them, you will still be at a disadvantage because you are not Uwe Boll and cannot possibly understand the inner workings of his crazed brain, which is I am sure the only place where any of this actually makes sense.
Even so, there is a decided lack of continuity between this movie and the last one in the series. In Boll's timestream, last time we saw Rayne it was the end of the eighteenth century and she had evidently just inherited the vampire kingdom in Romania from her daddy Kagan, after defeating him. That movie ended with a looooooong long take of her sitting on the throne, at any rate, so I guess that is what we are meant to assume. Now it's the 1880s and she's gallivanting about in the West looking for trouble, so I guess in the past century she was either deposed or got up and left. It remains a mystery, much like just about everything else that goes on, as you will see.
Also we have a new Rayne actress, Natassia Malthe, this time for complicated reasons. She used to be an opera ballerina in Norway, which is AWESOME, but was last seen as far as I know playing a biker werewolf in Skinwalkers, which was also a really bad movie but not as epic fail as this one. Naturally there's a lot of comparison between her and Kristanna Loken, and I think she had a few advantages over her. For one thing she actually kind of looks like Rayne, and I guess the balletic training helped because her fighting scenes were a lot more graceful and adroit, albeit still terribly choreographed. (She's also like six inches shorter, but nobody thought to put her in tall boots so she comes up to about everyone's shoulder.) And she managed to employ a few more facial expressions. Not many, but there are some. Her main disadvantage I think is something that can't really be helped, and that's her voice. I don't know how old she really is, but she has the voice of a sixteen-year-old girl. Rayne's voice is supposed to sound kind of sultry and sarcastic, Kristanna succeeded at least in sounding bored, Natassia sounds like a teenage girl constantly on the verge of a tantrum. Which is really kind of cute, but as soon as she talks it's impossible to take her seriously.
From a technical standpoint, it's kind of a demonstation on How To Attempt to Film a Cool Western and Fail. I don't know if they were trying to achieve a more rustic atmosphere or what, but all of the camerawork is handheld, and not very steadily. When it is not being filmed by someone obviously walking after the actors with the camera or panning unevenly between them, we get a lot of extreme closeups of the lead characters' eyes and teeth, and slooooooow slow motion shots of their feet walking around or their hands drawing their pistols. This would be effective maybe if it were used sparingly, but I swear nobody draws a gun at a normal speed in this movie.
And the dialogue is all so terrible and so badly delivered that it would honestly sound like the rehearsal of a middle school play if the language weren't so pointlessly crude and offensive, which it is. I guess because the gore is kind of cut back and everyone actually keeps their clothes on (onscreen anyway) Boll felt he needed to get his R rating somewhere (actually I think this was the unrated cut which could explain it. I really hope so.)
So what in the WORLD is Rayne even doing in the Wild West? Did Boll pick just a movie genre at random, and landed on the Western? (In which case I suppose we should be glad that it wasn't the musical. Or like, the space opera.)
Now, there is some skanky but cute cowgirl outfit in the second game that Rayne can wear if you beat it, but she's clearly not wearing it here, and even if she were that's a reaaaaaallly thin premise for a movie. She's actually mostly clothed most of the time, which was a nice surprise. (And, like most video game characters, evidently in possession of only one outfit, which involved a black and red leather corset, a black leather trenchcoat, black cowboy hat, and boots with spurs.) Her blades, like in the first movie, don't attach to her arms so she carries them around in sheaths on her back, which are arranged, intentionally or unintentionally, so they look like wings, which I thought was nice. :) So . . . points for her outfit? I guess?
So that's all my opinions on the technical aspects . . . onward to the actual plot.
So it opens (like the first one did only that was with like, medieval-looking woodcuts or something) over a montage of sepia photographs of pioneers, railroaders, frontiersmen and their families looking noble and honest and heroic, which gives the impression that the movie is also going to be noble and honest and heroic, but then it starts.
We meet Reporterman, who is here for comic relief and exposition, and while he fails at both of those I kind of like him because he seems to kind of represent the audience, in that he has absolutely no idea what is going on. He has come from Chicago to report on the Wild West, but all he can find is that they're building a railroad into Deliverance.
Then we meet a couple of homesteaders and their children, who attempt to build characterisation for the brief time they're alive by discussing covertly how they are struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, their troubles are cut short by a noise outside. "Goddamn bear's back!" announces the head of the family grimly, picks up his rifle, and goes outside to get dead. Soon after his wife follows him, and also gets dead.
It was of course not a bear, but Billy the Kid, who enters looking very snazzy in a dapper black suit and a red necktie. He's also a vampire, for reasons that are never explained, so of course he has a heavy Transylvanian accent and a posse of vampire cowboys who go with him on raids kidnapping children for blackmail and snacks. So he sweeps through town and takes over in short order, collecting screaming children, hypnotising the mayor, turning the sheriff, and taking Reporterman with him to report. Everybody else just kind of stands around and dithers while this happens.
So they are a town under siege! I'd say it's about time for the Mysterious Stranger to ride in and set everything to rights.
Which she does, in smashing heroshot fashion. Accompanied by her jaunty Cowgirl Rayne Theme (which will get stuck in your head for about a week) she rides up in epic slow motion, with her leather trenchcoat and her long auburn hair rippling in the wind . . . in broad daylight, through a puddle. There's even a shot of the sun shining on her blades.
Raynefans, see how many things you can find wrong with that description.
Which is a pity, cos it was probably the only good scene the entire movie. The entrance of Rayne is the film's high point, offering a brief moment of promise, but unfortunately from here its downhill slide quickly turns into a plummet.
So Rayne, who is never actually introduced, goes to find the homesteaders, with whom she evidently had Backstory that is, of course, never explained, but instead finds them all dead. While she is kind of mourning over the bodies, Pat Garrett turns up out of nowhere, and is also never introduced, so I just mentally referred to him the entire time as Rescue Cowboy, because that seems to be his job, since he is not the sheriff. He speculates that it was the work of bandits. Rayne scowls at him and delivers one of the best (and by that I mean lolarious) lines of the entire movie: "This ain't the work of no bandits!" Oh, Cowgirl Rayne.
They deduce that the offscreen deaths were actually the work of VAMPRIARS, and Rescue Cowboy, who is obviously fanboying Rayne, wants to come with her but she replies coolly that she rides alone, and sets off to do so. She arrives in town, whereupon she is immediately mistaken for a prostitute by a bunch of sketchy vampires who try to direct her to the nearest cathouse. (They also suggest that she take a bath, because apparently they have not heard my cries of outrage at every fanfic author who has suggested the same thing.) Rayne instead heads over to the local saloon and attempts to look alluring while chewing on a matchstick, but all that really does for her is muffle her dialogue.
She discovers the place is infested with vampires, all of whom are apparently mad at her for having walked out on a poker game in the distant past, or something. Now would be a great time for the film to suggest that she's this legendary vampire hunter and all, but instead it directs our attention to the poker game, which Rayne wins, naturally, so some vampire with bad teeth challenges her to a duel, because no saloon visit would be complete without one.
"Come on, Rayne!" he hollers, heading out the door, which is the first time she is actually identified, and if you aren't paying attention, you'll probably miss it. They go outside and pretend to be gunslingers for awhile while Boll pretends to be a Western director before she shoots him dead (with silver bullets and garlic, lol) and is immediately apprehended by the vampire sheriff for raising a ruckus. And here I got all excited because I thought we were actually going to see Rayne fight somebody, but she only manages to kick a few guys in the teeth before she is walloped on the head and thrown in jail.
In jail she meets some guy who mysteriously happens to be a member of the Brimstone Society, only they never actually call it that, and he just says something (when he sees her necklace, which she makes him find himself since her hands are conveniently bound behind her back, and his aren't) like, "You're a Brimstone?" which I guess is supposed to make them sound even more super-exclusive than ever, but really it just sounds totally lame since you get the impression that neither of the actors know what they're talking about either.
And the Brimstone Society is, of course, never explained.
(So for those out of the loop whom our dear director obviously doesn't care about, it's a totally awesome secret society of vampire hunters to whom Rayne has fluctuating loyalties.)
Some Brimstone Guy informs Rayne that Billy the Kid is, in fact, a vampire, but he doesn't tell us why, or how he got that way, or anything that we don't already know to clarify the plot. Reporterman turns up and tries to interview Rayne, who doesn't actually say anything (I guess they caught on that Natassia is most effective when silent, because she really had Rayne's expression of >:( down) and eavesdrop on the backstory but since there is none, he just ends up looking confused. I'm with you there, Reporterman.
So basically, Brimstone Guy is a useless character. He's also scheduled fer a hangin', which had me all upset, not because I feared for his life, but because I feared that Rayne would somehow rescue him and acquire an uninteresting sidekick. But I figured plot continuity would dictate that it had to happen so that he could prove useful later.
Fortunately for me, Boll doesn't care about that kind of thing, or is just trying to be edgy, cos Brimstone Guy totally dies. Okay, then. Rayne does not react. Meanwhile, Bartender Bob turns up with her blades, because he had them, for some reason, and then Rayne is taken out to be hanged.
But there's a fight scene! Sort of! Yes! Rayne does some fancy and pretty cool kind of flip and slices the hanging rope and then engages in some actual, somewhat gory throat-slicing. Sadly, no heads or limbs go flying, but at this point, I am willing to take what I can get. Bartender Bob meets an unfortunate end for conspiring with redheaded outlaws and Rayne escapes by diving into the swamp.
. . . Um, yeah. She doesn't stick around to rescue the innocent bartender, his innocent wife, or any of the innocent captive children, and she escapes by diving headfirst into a swamp. WHAT.
Well she paddles around in there for a little while and I guess she got shot because she has to be fished out by Rescue Cowboy, who just happened to be around.
Meanwhile, Billy the Kid has totally been snacking on the little kids. WTF, Boll? I didn't think you were allowed to film that kind of thing. Also, these kids are going to be traumatised forever. Not the characters - the actors. 20 years from now they're still going to be having nightmares about Uwe Boll. Poor kids.
Rayne wakes up on a riverbank with Rescue Cowboy, and because her shoulders are bare, other movie reviewers have a tendency to lie about this scene. Just thought I'd let you know that she is neither:
2. Wearing only a sheet.
Sorry, guys. She's actually still dressed (wearing her corset, which is visible) and covered with her own coat.
Rescue Cowboy wants to know what kind of vampire is she that she can travel through sunlight and water. "Not a dhampir!" I holler, but because Boll hates me Rayne replies, "A dhampir." They discuss Rayne's semi-vampiric origins in the briefest of terms and in a way that adds nothing to the plot, I guess just to establish that this is, in theory, a BloodRayne movie. Then she suggests that Rescue Cowboy should do the charitable thing and donate blood. He nicks his elbow with his knife and proceeds to drip strawberry syrup all over her face. Maybe this was supposed to be hot stuff, but frankly, by this point I was laughing too hard to tell. Oh man.
Regrettably, this is the most dhampir action we are going to see from Rayne in this film. There is no neck biting, no aura vision, no supernatural reflexes, no awesome moves. And all this really does for her is let her pull off her bandaids in the next scene to show us that her owies are healing.
From here, Rayne decides that she needs help after all so she and Rescue Cowboy (destroying my hope about her not having any lame sidekicks) go and round up THE SKEEZIEST bunch of vampire hunters ever. I don't know what they think these guys' qualifications are, especially since neither of them have even heard of vampires and both have to be bribed to join her side. (Which is about the most unrealistic thing I have ever heard of. :P)
First one is Skeezy Preacher, whom Rescue Cowboy has heard of from his Wanted poster. They find him delivering a racy sermon and robbing the old ladies of his congregation blind. What a great guy. He agrees to join them, not to be absolved of his sins or scourge darkness from the earth or anything a preacher should be doing, but because they agree not to turn him over to the police if he helps. (And by "they" I mean Rescue Cowboy, because like before Natassia just stands around practising her Rayne scowlface.)
Next up is a guy whose name is, as far as I could tell, actually Slimebag. And for some reason, Boll has decided that enlisting his dubious services calls for the most awkward seduction scene in the history of cinema. If anyone ever finds one worse than this . . . please don't tell me. I don't want to see it.
They find him at the local Den of Sin, where Skeezy Preacher immediately splits and runs off with the first girl he can find. Rayne, whom I am still dignifying with the title only out of obligation, enters the room of the filthiest, oiliest, most flea-, gingivitis-, and venereal disease-ridden lowlife ever to grace celluloid. Thinking about this guy still makes me want to go take a 40-minute shower.
Clearly, the best way to get to this guy would be to adopt the persona of a prostitute with an outrageous country drawl, which is exactly what Rayne does. ("Naaow howdy!" is also one of the best lines of the entire movie, ranking up there with the bandits and the one about the bear.) She then performs a rather grudging kind of cowgirl striptease, but doesn't get very much off other than her hat and her coat before sitting on Slimebag and tying him to the bed. "Oh, so you're one of those!" he giggles, and I am too horrified to start hollering about how that is actually her freaky sister.
Mercifully, before this can progress, she puts a pistol in his mouth and resumes her scowlface. Both actors look distinctly relieved that the godawful seduction is over. I am too. I hope for their sakes this was done in one take. When asked who she wants him to help her kill, she leans down close and replies, like it's some fabulous turn-on or something, "Vampiiiireeeesssssss."
And actually, that one IS the best line of the entire movie. I'm going to go around saying that one just for fun now. Vampiiiireeesssssss!!!
Well he agrees, because otherwise she's clearly going to spread his brains all over his greasy headboard, and I really wish she had because the next thing he asks is, "Are you still gonna (insert euphemism of your choice) me?" She grins at him.
And here the cameraman gets tired of lugging around the handheld camera and ends the scene on that thought.
D: D: D:
(P.S., for your consideration: Stop Dr. Uwe Boll Petition )
Oh yeah and then it cuts to outside in the hall where Rescue Cowboy is totally LISTENING OUTSIDE THE DOOR. What a sleaze.
By this point I am willing to rescind my opinions about the canonical implausibility of Rayne's being able to take a bath and am sincerely hoping that she did. Well now that she has assembled the lamest bunch of vampire hunters ever, Rayne bestows upon them all Brimstone Society amulets just like hers, because evidently she carries them around for occasions like this and passes them out like candy. Skeezy Preacher blesses some water and silver bullets for anti-vampire usage, though how he is even ordained to do this after everything else he's been doing is a mystery, and Rayne gives a Monologue about brotherhood and all that might be noble and impressive if it weren't for her trebly voice and that her audience is made of scuzz.
Our heroes (?) return to town at high midnight, and Boll tries to include some stylistically Western camerawork but it's all ruined by the fact that the cameraman is obviously jogging after them carrying the camera. Maybe Boll should have set aside some of his strawberry syrup budget and BOUGHT A DOLLY. Or a tripod, even. One of them yells to Billy the Kid that "The Brimstone is calling you out!" which not only doesn't even make any sense, but it's also really dumb-sounding and produces no effect, because Mr. the Kid does not make an appearance. His goons do come out and there's some kind of protracted battle sequence, in which Rayne does not participate.
Instead she takes it upon herself to Save the Childrens and goes looking for Billy the Kid, who has set up some kind of cunning trap for her that is going to dangle all the children on nooses if she lets go of a rope. Billy the Kid gives an Evil Villain Speech. Rayne scowls.
Meanwhile the people of Deliverance are all holed up like prairie dogs in the saloon. Reporterman gives another Speech about how they should be helping Rayne. The recently-bereft Mrs. Bartender Bob packs iron.
Cut back to Rayne, who is still holding the rope. Billy the Kid invites her to be his bride, for all eternity, etc, etc, typical vampire stuff. She scowls at him.
The people of Deliverance finally decide to help, but not before Slimebag and Skeezy Preacher get dead. Skeezy Preacher garners a particularly lengthy and gory death scene that looks like it was meant to be heroic, which means I guess we were supposed to like him, but I was pretty glad to see him go. Even gladder about the demise of Slimebag.
And meanwhile, Rayne is still holding the damn rope. After about half an hour she suddenly remembers that she has a pair of arm-length swords strapped to her back (see, this all would have been a lot easier if they had actually been attached to her arms like they should be) so she cuts the ropes and saves the kids. Billy the Kid invites her to a fight scene.
They go outside, because it's finally time for some fine dhampir heroics from Rayne. Unfortunately, all that happens is that he beats the everloving snot out of her and leaves her in the mud while he delivers another Villain Monologue to the people of Deliverance, who still aren't doing anything, despite the number of inspiring speeches they've been audience to in the past half hour. Rayne finally gets her stuff together enough to get up off the ground and perform Silver Circlet, which is the only one of her moves they used in the movie, because it's the only one that doesn't involve CGI or stuntwork or anything. (It was in the first one too.) It's the one that basically involves her twirling around in a circle like "Wheeeeee!" with her arms out. It looks kind of dumb even in the game and it looks really dumb when performed by a live actress. I used to do this all the time when I was little. I'm sure I looked pretty dumb too. Rescue Cowboy seems to recognise that this move never really accomplishes much, even in the game, so he shoots him with a bunch of silver bullets. Billy the Kid goes down. Rayne stops spinning around and makes a wooden stake out of a nearby pitchfork or something and finally stabs the sucker, something she could have done at least two hours ago and spared us a lot of pain.
The children of Deliverance are finally freed to return to their parents, and during what should be a heartwarming scene, we are witness to the following exchange:
Sally's sister: Mom! Sally didn't make it. :*(
Sally's mother: I know, honey. It's okay. Let's go home.
. . . Well golly I guess everything's okay as long as all your kids don't die by vampire. R.I.P., Sally.
After that happy ending, Rayne prepares to ride off into the sunset, except that all of the outdoor scenes save the one of her grand entrance appear to have been filmed on the same day, which was totally overcast and also kind of slushy because the snow was melting. She says she's heard about some vampire trouble in Tombstone, and is going to ride on over and go check it out, because evidently she hates her horse. Rescue Cowboy, clearly still crushing on her, requests to come with but she just tips her hat to him and rides off into the slush.
So do I recommend this movie?
Well that depends. If you have any love or respect for good cinema, Rayne, yourself, vampires, cowboys, children, or canon . . . then no. But if you like movies that are so bad they're not even so-bad-they're good, Uwe Boll, and torturing yourself, then . . . sure, have at it. Otherwise, you can reassure yourself with the knowledge that now that you have read my review, you don't actually have to see the movie yourself, because I took that bullet for you. (And when I say a bullet I mean . . . like the end of Bonnie and Clyde.)
Also, in bizarrely related news, when I was on iTunes the other day looking for Nightwish, I found this bit of weirdery. More dismaying than the fact that there actually is a soundtrack is the fact that there is Nightwish on it. (And no, the song is definitely not anywhere in the movie. Haahaa and no the one person who evidently bought those songs was not me, either.) And he must be a Nightwish fan because if I remember correctly he debased "Wish I Had An Angel" by using it in another film of his. Booooo. >:(