Interview with Uwe Boll, Part III – movies, video games, critics

Uwe Boll thumbWe have arrived to the final part of our nearly two-hour interview with Dr. Uwe Boll (you can read the previous two sections here and here), and at the same time we are launching a competition on our Facebook page, the winners of which will receive gifts (postcards with a personal message) from Dr. Boll himself! In our concluding section, Fixxerx and Zoo_Lee asked questions about the rather divided opinions surrounding his work, covering both positive and negative criticisms.

Zoo_Lee:I have one final question about the House of the Dead – there’s a rather memorable scene in the film where the death animations of the opponents were included from the original games when the zombies died. You mentioned that you got the script from SEGA – was this editing technique included in the elements they approved, required, or was it your own idea?

UB.: “It was my idea and it was also criticised in the reviews. In those overclocked action scenes where we used matrix-like effects anyway, and the camera filmed the characters in 360 degrees I felt we could actually capture the nature of the original games. What we see is a scene that fits right into a video game. SEGA was very collaborative, all the clips were sent to us in high definition and I really liked the end result, at least as an idea anyways. But others didn’t really think so.

I had an interview with an American journalist who was just working on a book about game adaptations, and we both agreed that movies made from video games had basically always been a dead end in film history. Just take a look at what happened to comics, superheroes, what they achieved with character building there, practically a separate film genre was born! We can also recall things like Sin City, outright masterpiece, or the new Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix, for example. Plus, they’re terribly flexible, no one could say, for example, that the Joker movie was made by someone once before: given the character, given the broadly known background, but approached in a new, dramatic way we haven’t seen in comics before – but before in the Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s portrayal was also brilliant as a Joker. However, with movies based on video games, I don’t think a masterpiece has ever been made. When I received the criticism, mostly from American journalists, I replied to them several times that, okay, show me a really good game adaptation that is better and more faithful than Postal.”

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Zoo_Lee: I guess they couldn’t. (Fixxerx: I cannot name any for sure)

UB.: “Well no, but Postal wasn’t taken really seriously as a video game either. Yet overall, I believe the Postal film is a significant creation, and the competition, even when hundreds of millions are spent on films like World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia, movies with plenty of CGI, the end result is shit. They don’t show any value, which is a bit funny in the case of Warcraft, because they kept telling that Uwe Boll could never direct the World of Warcraft movie blah, blah, blah, then they made it, and the end result was a pile of shit, which cost $ 150 million to make. One or two enjoyable pieces come to my mind when I think about it a bit – I liked the first Silent Hill, for example, the Hitman wasn’t bad either, at least it’s undeniable that they were fun. But still, if we compare them to the success of, say, comic book movies, they don’t even come close, as if Hollywood was unable to do this right. They try from time to time, but in overall it’s a dead genre.”

FixxerxAnd what do you think of video games adapted into series, like the Witcher, the upcoming Fallout, or The Last of Us? Right now, it’s like I prefer series to video game adaptations, and you mentioned that you’re thinking about filming a series, of course you’ll draw from comics this time.

UB: “I think sometimes it’s even better to shoot a series. The Witcher isn’t bad, though not the best I’ve ever seen, but still better than most movie adaptations. Indeed, series can even work, of course, only if you have enough raw material to continue. Of course, you can also reach out to them. Either way, we live in an age of series. For example, I enjoyed The Mandalorian more than the latest Star Wars movies. The Mandalorian has a good story that is more for adults and what is not carried by computer effects on their backs, Jon Favreau and a good director and a good producer. Based on this, I would also give video game adaptations another chance in the form of series, e.g. I could imagine a great series from Bloodrayne.”

Fixxerx: And if you had an unlimited budget, which video game would you shoot another movie or series from?

UB: “Certainly not from Fortnite! My son plays it for ten hours a day, but what would be the point of making a movie out of it? In my opinion, that would be a big mistake. Grand Theft Auto, on the other hand, is a big favorite of mine, it could be adapted in a similar way to Postal. It could also be used to make a very dark, violent, humorous satire.”

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Fixxerx: That would be great!

UB: But I heard that the guys [Rockstar Games] have turned down all adaptation offers so far.”

FixxerxYou mentioned the Rampage movies earlier. Let me ask you a question about this! I know you made several Rampage movies with your wife. Would you share your experiences in this regard? How could you work together?

UB: “To answer your question, she worked for TV before we met, e.g. she participated in cooking programs in a similar way as a production manager. When we were filming the second and third episodes of Rampage, we were working on a smaller budget so I couldn’t pay for Dan Clarke, the guy we worked with on fifteen or twenty films. […] The point is, that’s when I told my wife that it’s a family business from now on, and she dug into it, worked a lot. That’s when I explained to her that filming is different, she doesn’t have to worry now that we won’t be ready on time, because for me, filming is a smooth process. She was surprised by this, and that we always finish everything on time, that we almost never work overtime. A filming day already consists of twelve hours, but when it fattens up to fourteen, fifteen hours, the team will no longer work so smoothly – they can’t sleep, they can’t eat, quasi everything goes bankrupt. In this way, the pace is maintained. Just to understand, I’ve seen directors who start the day with a snail’s pace and end up running out of time for that very reason. I like to start work right after I get out of bed, I like to shoot the first scenes early, drive the team, shoot as early as I can. So they drink their coffee faster [laughs], they finish their sandwich. You need to do this especially if you don’t work from a lot of money. The second and third Rampage films were shot without a fully-fledged script, intentionally, which makes the task of a production manager quite difficult, because she doesn’t know for sure how to touch things or how long it will take to shoot a scene, respectively. the movie itself. When I put the script in the hands of the production manager, I write down how many minutes I imagine that particular scene. For example, it doesn’t matter if the director’s instruction is just two guys going into the woods, jumping into a hole like in the Tunnel Rats, where the whole scene is in ten seconds, and that’s it, or it’s a depressing scene that can take up to two minutes. And so it was the overture of the film, which would have been impossible to shoot in ten or twenty minutes, you had to schedule at least an hour for a two-minute scene. This kind of design is a lot of help for production managers.”

FixxerxThanks, it all sounds a lot of fun. We know it’s famously good to work with you, you’ve received very positive feedback from both the crew and your actors. Do you think this is due to your personality? What makes it possible that although you mostly have relatively low-budget films, with a few huge-budget exceptions of course such as In the Name of the King, which is a significant burden on the staff and you, but in the end they still have a very positive opinion about you? We read the things Michael Madsen said about you – as positive as possible!

UB: I’ve noticed that actors specifically love to shoot (movies with me). I think most actors get bored from having to wait five hours in their trailer to record someone else’s scene before them. I think I’m specifically actor-friendly in that regard, I don’t like to show them what to do (all along). At first, of course, I lead them, but then I let them unfold, if only because a lot of actors come up with a lot of good ideas sometimes, or just the same thing I do, which encourages them to be independent. I let them do what they want, I don’t play for them what they should. There are directors who put the words in their mouths, and even how they say I never do that, because it’s an insult to the actor. Who am I to show Ben Kingley how to act? No, I’d never do that – this is one major reason why I get positive feedbacks. Also, I like to joke. From Seed through Tunnel Rats and Rampage to Darfur, I’ve always strived for a fun vibe on set.

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So looking back at Rampage, I am reminded of Brendan Fletcher’s insecurity, after all, he also repeated, “Uwe is screwing up the movie,” and I always told him, “Brendan, after you died- and he was just a young guy at the time – Rampage will be remembered as the best movie of your life. I’m one hundred percent sure of that.” He had made a couple of films in his life before him, about fifteen-sixteen, TV movies and whatever, but I told him that he would be outstanding in Rampage because he would do it without a script. I saw it and even told him he could do it, just trust me. Sure, there was the scene where you had to make a big political speech, and of course I wrote it, but I still encouraged him to say it the way he felt. I think he did the character and the whole movie justice, the brutal action, the cynicism worked perfectly, and yet he was able to stay sympathetic. I’ve always regretted killing him in the movie. I think the best feature of a good movie is when the bad guy can convince you that he is the good guy. It’s also important that whatever is said in the film seems true. There’s the first Rampage, right, they tell you that the Earth is full, our environment is dying, we’re dying. That film is a good twelve, thirteen-years-old, that is, Greta Thunberg was nowhere back then, the second part was made seven years ago, and even back then there were assholes who were murdering, watching with drones. Let’s face it, Obama didn’t prevent these, didn’t improve the lives of blacks, didn’t stop the killing, the observing, didn’t stop the Arab Spring when they killed Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and whatever. I consider it important to politicize so that my opinion goes through clearly. Even today, Rampage carries an important message because it stands only for pure truth and not for political parties. Everyone gets it in the film, precisely because everyone deserves it.”

Fixxerx: The same can be said about Assault on Wall Street, starring Dominic Purcell. Why do you think it was less successful than Rampage? I think it’s a great movie and I know you’ve listed it as one of your best movies too.

UB“I think Assault was a very good movie and I think it was very important movie to make. I don’t understand why no banker went to jail after 2008 and why no one started a mass shooting in a bank after 2008, especially in the United States, where they start shooting for everything even at McDonald’s, kindergarten, schools: there’s plenty of massacre there. I wanted to introduce a guy who wants to deliver justice to scare bankers. I loved this movie, especially John Hurt as a banker, his play is very powerful. However, it lacks the raw ruthlessness that existed in Rampage. I think Assault on Wall Street is a story told in a very traditional way that was meant for a wider audience, making it easier to present it on TV, but I think real movie fans might like Rampage better because you get something from it that you don’t from other movies.”

Fixxerx: What was the most positive feedback that was most memorable to you? Or which was the most negative that hurt you the most?

UB: “I got a lot of negative feedback for my video game adaptations, which was sometimes painful because I feel like all of my movies are completely different, like there’s BloodRayne, or In the Name of the King, which are completely different and I got essentially the same criticism for both, which I think is stupid. I received similarly negative criticism when Postal was released, which I absolutely did not understand, I think it was foolish not to even give that film a chance. So I got a lot of negative feedback, but I couldn’t highlight any of them that hurt the most. The same is true for positive feedback. Perhaps the happiest I was because of an article Art Ettinger wrote from New York in Ultraviolent Magazine, a magazine that focuses the tougher films. This article may have been made about 12 years ago, possibly after Postal, when the Rampage movies werent done yet. The writing was about 3-4 pages long and wrote, “You will all see that Uwe Boll is the most underrated and misunderstood director of all time”. I think he was right and I proved it with my later films that he couldn’t even take into account back then, such as Tunnel Rats. I know, for example, that The House of the Dead isn’t a very good movie, but you can’t ignore, like half America does, the Assault or Rampage movies. I mean, how many good movies does an average director make? One, and then he gets positive reviews for the rest of his life. I’ve made 8-9 really good movies and they totally look through me as a director.”

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Fixxerx: Can you tell us which are your favorite horror movies and what influenced you?

UB: “I loved The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby, but also Dawn of the Dead from Romero. The new Shining (Doctor Sleep ed.) was a big disappointment for me. I really liked the preview, but the movie itself was an incredibly big letdown and I felt like, good heavens, they ruined the whole Shining! I loved the venue itself, the hotel from the original, and there was none of that, even though it was all about that in the preview. I grew up with movies like Friday the 13th and Halloween, Nightmare when I was 15-16-17. However, if I had to choose a movie, I would choose The Shining because it was very disturbing. I really like movies where you don’t know how they will end and take you out of your comfort zone, which most “slasher” movies aren’t capable of. Those are when a lot of teens go to a camp and you know and in the end only the final girl remains. But it’s funny, because Mother’s Day scared me to death the first time I watched it, but when I watched it again, it was almost ridiculous because it was clear that it’s not a very good movie. But I loved Maniac, for example, it was all good.”

Fixxerx: I think The Shining is a great example as I don’t know if you knew, but when it came out at the time, it also pocketed two Razzie Awards as the worst movie. Then in ten or twenty years it was regarded as one of the cult classics. I think this will happen to a lot of your movies in the future as well. So I think this is a good comparison between your career and the ones we talked about in this regard. The recognition will come, only a little later.

UB: “Hopefully! (laughs) Look, I said a few years ago that when you actually look back on film history, the big survivors – I mean from feature films – weren’t dramas or serious movies. Genre films are always the ones that matter after 50 or 80 years. Look at something western – say The Searchers from John Ford or Jaws from Steven Spielberg. I could watch Jaws every week. Right? I love that movie you know. But there are a lot of … Watch all the Oscar movies – Moonlight or whatever. I don’t give a shit BOUT those movies. I mean, they lose their importance two minutes after they get the Oscar. And they were never important to the world or what. I see genre films that are more relevant to the culture and the target audience as well.

The films [back in the 80s] were able to do this right, like Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, The French Connection. They received or nominated Oscars, but at the same time they really did count. They weren’t entirely genre films, but they were important and good movies, with great stories. The Godfather, you know, were great movies, but not just dramas Then these were replaced by the Hollywood #metoo movement. Basically, if you have two black lesbians in your movie, they already nominated you. And that sucks. I mean, as you know, I’m totally incorrect politically and I don’t give a shit about political correctness. I think this is a decline. This total liberal absurdity that has been going on in Hollywood for 7-8 years is the decline of Hollywood. Because they think this makes everything so clear that this and this movie are damn important – that much flashed stuff. And even if these movies aren’t bad, are they really sure they should get an Oscar? You know No Forgiveness. Those were movies. Now, for the last 7-8 years, they’ve been marking movies that you just watch and what the fuck is that?

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You have to go crazy! The case of Parasites was interesting. Every other major film in that year was so crap that even those sitting in the Hollywood Oscar jury voted for the Parasites. Because it was the only really good movie. It was also a bit catchy, a little wild, there was something in it. The ending felt a little disjointed, but overall it was the best film.”

Fixxerx: Thank you very much and one last request- We want to share the experience with our readers. I think it was a wonderful interview and we appreciate your time and effort. It was great to talk to you and get to know Uwe Boll in person, so we are very grateful. Would it be possible to send two postcards with personal messages to the winners of our competition?

UB: “Should I send it by mail?”

Fixxerx: Yes, thank you very much!

UB: “Just send their address, okay?”

Fixxerx: Thank you and thank you for your time.

UB: “We can repeat it, maybe in 2021 :)”

Fixxerx & Zoo_Lee

Special thanks to our collegues Keleman, gabblack and Chucklit for their help with the hungarian translation of the interview

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