But love him or hate him, video game movie director Uwe Boll is here to stay.
Notorious for lashing out against critics of his video game adaptations (like “House of the Dead,” “Alone in the Dark,” “BloodRayne” and “Postal“), the German director somehow manages to keep making movies. His film renditions of “Far Cry” and “Dungeon Siege” are coming out next year, and recently Boll garnered the rights for independent games “Sabotage 1943” (Replay Studios), “Legend: Hand of God” (Master Creating) and “Zombie Massacre” (1988 Games). Last week, when I called the director to talk about how he acquired the movie rights to “Zombie Massacre” (as well as how the hell to say his name), I also wanted to learn what makes the man tick. Here’s a sampling of what he had to say:
“Grand Theft Auto” I think is a great game, but it’s also a little old-fashioned now, and the question is “Do we already have movies like this?” So even though it’s a fun game and original, we need to question what would you gain if you made a movie out of it. Like with “Halo,” it’s a sensational game, but I don’t think that the materials are perfect to make a movie. It could be very technical but not necessarily an emotionally- grabbing movie, and I think it’s always important to have lead characters you can go with through a story. Like Jack Carver in “Far Cry” is a funny guy but he is also tough; he’s a little like a Bruce Willis type so you want to follow him. You want to know if he’s surviving the adventure. … And I don’t think that in “Halo” a character like this really exists.
Um… Master Chief, anyone? Read on to find out what he thinks makes a good video game movie, his side of what happened with “Metal Gear Solid” and how Blizzard rejected him for “World of Warcraft.”
MTV: How do you decide which video games to go after and which video games should be translated into films?
Boll: I think that there are various options. One is, of course, the marketing aspect, to see how you can tie the [movie and the game] together and gain from making a movie based on a game, and then another thing, that is for me more important, is the story. You have to have some interesting characters, like “BloodRayne” for example. I think it’s not the biggest and the best game on Earth, but she’s cool and around her you can definitely make a movie, like a female “Blade.” That’s what makes “BloodRayne” for me very, very interesting. I liked Edward Carnby, the paranormal investigator in “Alone in the Dark.” The character was interesting not like a typical superhero guy; he’s an investigator who was vulnerable, and I liked that. And then you have stuff like “Far Cry” or “Dungeon Siege” for example, where you have a very good story. This is like the other aspect, like in “Dungeon Siege,” where if you don’t have a good character but you have an interesting storyline, then this also makes it attractive.
MTV: If you could choose any license, regardless of if it’s already been done, what video game movies would you love to make?
Boll: I definitely like “Metal Gear Solid,” and I like “World of Warcraft.” I’ve always liked “Hitman” and “Silent Hill,” but they got turned into movies now already, so forget that. The thing is, people approach me with “Manhunt” for example, and right now I had a talk about “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.” so it depends… For example, “Grand Theft Auto” I think is a great game, but it’s also a little old-fashioned now, and the question is “Do we already have movies like this?” So even though it’s a fun game and original, we need to question what would you gain if you made a movie out of it. Like with “Halo,” it’s a sensational game, but I don’t think that the materials are perfect to make a movie. It could be very technical but not necessarily an emotionally-grabbing movie, and I think it’s always important to have lead characters you can go with through a story. Like Jack Carver in “Far Cry” is a funny guy but he is also tough; he’s a little like a Bruce Willis type so you want to follow him. You want to know if he’s surviving the adventure. Did he have success or not? And I don’t think that in “Halo” a character like this really exists.
MTV: What do you think about the “Resident Evil” movies?
Boll: I liked the first one. I hated the second one, and this is the reason I would see the third one only on DVD actually. I won’t buy a ticket for the third one. At one point it became redundant; it’s the same thing over and over again. What I like with the “BloodRayne” stuff, the first one I did was a 1700’s period piece in Transylvania, the second one is a western, and the third one will be a war movie. This is why I like doing the sequels because it’s totally different genres with the same character, and you can tell the stories totally different. As the director, I would not be interested in doing another “Resident Evil” movie.
MTV: What would you do to if you remade the “Super Mario Bros.” movie?
Boll: Nooooo. “Super Mario Brothers”? No, I would never do this.
MTV: But what would you do to make it better?
Boll: Nothing! I don’t think you can make it good, “Super Mario Brothers.”
MTV: [laughs] Fair enough. In your opinion, what is the best video game movie that’s been made?
Boll: I would almost say “Silent Hill.” For sure not “Wing Commander.” [laughs] I kind of liked the first “Mortal Kombat.” It kept the spirit of the game but it was also in a way original and entertaining. But if you see the movie now it’s a little trashy. But now, I would say “Silent Hill” and of course “Postal,” my own movie. But this is the best movie ever made, so automatically this is best video game movie ever made. [laughs]
MTV: Earlier, you mentioned “Metal Gear Solid.” What would you do if you actually got to make the “Metal Gear Solid” movie? Last year, you were rumored to be involved with the project.
Boll: The whole situation with “Metal Gear” and the game creator [Hideo Kojima] was completely absurd. I got approached by two French guys with the script. They said basically they got from Konami the job to write the script for “Metal Gear Solid,” and they approached me and showed it to me. I read the script and I said, “I like it. I want some changes, but I’m interested.” Then it was in the press that I think I should do “Metal Gear Solid” and then [Kojima] came up on the press conference and said he had no clue about it and said that Boll was never attached to the “Metal Gear Solid” movie and Boll will never do the “Metal Gear Solid” movie. And then it turned out that the French guys wrote that script on-spec.
MTV: So they hadn’t been hired by Konami; they just wanted your name attached to the project?
Boll: Exactly. If I said yes, they can go to Konami and everybody’s happy, but the opposite happened, right? [laughs] So maybe [Kojima] didn’t like “House of the Dead” or “Alone In The Dark” or whatever, so there was a backlash. But what was not true is what was in the press, that I said I have the rights, that I am doing the movie, and I never said this. I only said that two guys approached me and e-mailed me the script, and I read it and I thought it was an interesting project. It’s one of my favorite games. So it was a kind of a stupid situation and then I never heard from the French guys again.
MTV: That’s kind of messed up.
Boll: It was so messed up that it would never happen, so I gave up. And for “World of Warcraft,” I don’t have a very good relationship with Blizzard. In the end my “Dungeon Siege” film will be a little like “World of Warcraft,” and I don’t want to be redundant. I always try to do different genres, like “Postal” is an action-driven comedy, and “BloodRayne 2” was almost like a vampire western, so I aspire always to make films in a wide range of genres. What most people are not aware of is that basically, the range of video games is way bigger than people think. A lot of the main audience thinks video game-based movies are always horror movies but it’s totally not true. In video games you have adventure, sci-fi, horror, action and even comedy. I think that people should accept more that video games are kind of like the best-selling books of the new generation.
MTV: Why don’t you have a good relationship with Blizzard? Did you approach them about doing the “World of Warcraft” movie?
Boll: Yeah, before I did “Dungeon Siege.” I approached Blizzard to get “World of Warcraft,” but forget it. It didn’t happen. I think it’s [Blizzard COO] Paul Sams who is handling the movie, and he responded very negatively to me from the beginning on. But now, I am touring with my movies a lot, like with “Postal,” and I talk to a lot of fans. I think half of the video game studios really like me and really like my movies and the other half hates me. So I have to work with the half that likes me. But now there are a lot of studios and developers that really like what I’m doing. They think it’s supportive for the whole video game industry that I’m out there making movies based on video games. They know that video games don’t have a big lobby in Hollywood; it’s not like everybody wants to do it. And at this point of view, they support me. And the other people, they think that they’re like the elite; they’re very arrogant and in their own world, and they think I do shi**y movies. Just a totally different opinion, basically.
MTV: How do you feel about being such a controversial figure?
Boll: Well yeah, I didn’t choose [to be]. I’m touring now to the festivals, and I see a lot of people coming basically out of nowhere, and they approach me and they want autographs, they want to talk to me, they like me and they say “I love your movies, I buy your movies and blah, blah, blah.” And then I think the really loud Boll haters on the internet are more present than people that like my movies, because they don’t necessarily spend time on message boards and everything, but they go and buy the movie. And if you see the actual sales of “House of the Dead” or “Alone in the Dark” or the “BloodRayne” DVDs, they are all like best-sellers. They sell like a hundred thousand and in the U.S., almost every single movie sold over a million DVDs. Those are numbers that other filmmakers can only dream about. If the movies are all so bad, idiotic or whatever, why are the sales so high? So it might be a silent majority of people that actually like those movies.