I won't deny the fact that I'm somewhat of a Uwe Boll nut-slash-fan-slash-apologist. The German "filmmaker" is one of the most uneven working in the industry today, though he's far from the "worst director" some give him the label for being. With the right material, Boll can create a very interesting, unflinching picture. With the wrong material, though, he may be capable of being brought up on war crimes. His obsession with filming game adaptations may be his downfall, though, as I constantly find myself disappointed by his works in this area, and amazed by how much better he is with other titles. It's the tale of two directors, only you always know what you're going to get, so it's kind of hard to complain!
With 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich,' Boll returns to familiar territory, having directed the original and sequel some time ago. I don't think I can recall any public cries for more, but here it is. On the bright side, it's short, so any complaints about the film won't be as bad as if it were an hour longer, for no reason other than to pad the runtime. This threequel doesn't quite mess around in that regard, and is about as streamlined an action film as we've seen from Boll. It's also one of the more nonsensical affairs in his canon, and that's saying something.
The 'Bloodrayne' story, centered around a dhampir (or dampyr) warrior woman whose goal is to cleanse the Earth of vampire scum, has been shown cinematically in medieval times and in the old west, so the translation to Boll's homeland may jar some. However, the Nazi occultism opens the door for flicks like this (see also: 'Hellboy' and 'Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa'), so the shoe does fit, albeit a bit loosely. See, I have a hard time believing that a powerful woman like Rayne can be fighting the undead for over 400 years, with her advantage of daywalking, and not yet be done clearing the world of the menace, considering the only times we see her she's dedicated to eradication. Wait, that's thinking, bad Nate!
The story for 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' isn't all that much of a head-scratcher. It's really a film that seems to have written itself. Rayne is fighting the Germans, seeing their type as the same she's been fighting for centuries, and bands together with a group of resistance fighters (led by Boll stalwart Brendan Fletcher). The accidental creation of a vampire (Michael Pare) from Rayne's blood causes a stir in the Nazi camps, as Doctor Mangler (Clint Howard, an obvious Doctor Menghele parallel) and his undead experiments may finally pay off. Rayne now must kill what she created, before the Germans can bring her blood to Hitler and Berlin to create a super army.
Another way to paraphrase the film would be to say fight scene, fight scene, lesbian sex scene, fight scene, fight scene, fight scene, sex scene, fight scene, end credits. The third 'Bloodrayne' film has little in terms of character development, making it tough to connect to or care about anyone on screen. If anything, you may find yourself rooting for Mangler and the Commandant, as they're the only characters who actually talk, plot, and have goals. Or you may find yourself rooting for Rayne to see if you can see more random nudity. Either way.
This Boll flick is hampered by many of his trademark shortcomings, the most jarring being the way scenes are thrown together haphazardly and, I'll say it again, nonsensically, as there is no real drama or tension, no real thread to the film, just one scene after another that our brains are forced to connect the dots in. The acting is more like overacting, as few participants play this one with a straight face, with exaggerated line readings that draw you out of the film. The camera work is uninspired, and often sloppy, with the camera swooshing about back and forth in what should be static shots. Scene transitions bomb terribly as well, which only adds to the mess of the cobbled together construction.
I'll swear until I'm blue in the face that I'm a fan of Boll's work, especially his more extreme flicks that border on exploitation. However, I really do wish he'd do himself (and us) a favor and stay the hell away from game movies. They may be his passion, but they're our curse. 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' is an example of how a filmmaker can regress, abandoning all their progress over the years to go back to the same formulaic shlock that earned them a bad reputation. It's a shame, really. I could imagine Boll being behind a better 'Bloodrayne' film based in Nazi Germany, I really could. The cast isn't the issue as much as the script, and the somewhat incoherent direction and editing. Boll haters, here you go. Have a field day.
Also, chew on this: despite all the problems, 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' is undoubtably the best film in the series. That should sum up the other films nicely.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' arrives on Blu-ray from Phase 4 Films on a Region A marked BD25 disc in its unrated director's cut form. What exactly that entails, I'm not 100% sure of, but I'd bet money it is mostly based on the CG blood splatters that are virtually everywhere in this flick. The menu is static with a poor audio loop behind it, with traditional navigation.
The packaging for 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' indicates at 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Wrong-o! The disc itself indicates a nice widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 tool. The end result? A solid, though imperfect release. Detail levels don't waver, but aren't amazingly sharp. Still, one can readily see the chalky makeup used to pale up some characters. Textures and picture depth are neither great nor poor, staying somewhat cemented in the middle ground that won't impress many. Grain levels are untouched, whites are very clean, and skin tones, outside of obvious makeup for vampire characters, are natural and consistent. I did have some issue with the apparent contrast boosting and light rings that show up from time to time, but it wasn't overly distracting. This isn't a top tier title, but it's also far from a disappointment. In fact, it may be one of Phase 4's better releases so far.
The default track for 'Bloodrayne: The Third Reich' is a very nice DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that won't be the cause of many complaints. The soundtrack hits all speakers wonderfully. Gunfire has a distinct pop, with varying firearms producing unique sounding blasts and with great bass thuds to match at times, as well as plenty of localization throughout the room. Rears get their fair share of ambience, but can dry up at times. Dynamics are solid, with wonderful echoes hitting back channels. I do wish dialogue was a little clearer, as there are a few lines that get very difficult to understand (and Malthe's performance doesn't help matters), but this track rocks and rolls, with enough sheer power to keep anyone somewhat invested in the film.