Directed by Uwe Boll (dive! dive!)
Starring Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff and Tara Reid
Amnesiac PI and occult investigator Edward Carnby (Slater) discovers a relic of the Abkani civilisation. Some dude in shades tries to nick it, but after a running gun battle in the heart of Somewheresburg, he deciphers the text on the artefact and discovers… something something awakening.
Working with archaeologist and love interest Alline (Reid) and frenemy and ex-colleague in secret government agency 713, Commander Burke (Dorff), Carnby goes up against mad archaeologist Hudgens (Matthew Walker), an army of monsters and the zombified bodies of basically every friend he had as a child. Our protagonists descend into a secret underground complex to seal a door that is already closed and stop a menace that 713 has been fighting for years having originally created.
Also ancient civilisations.
What’s wrong with it?
The film is an abject mess, and it begins from word one with its extensive and didactic opening crawl detailing all of the history of the Abkani and the universes of light and dark, and leaving very little to be explored in the film itself. That’s just as well, since for the most part the film just names stuff and then there are monsters and death and people shooting at things off frame so that they don’t need to sync the shots and the hits.
The plot is… basic, yet convoluted, with 713 basically along to muddy the waters and allow Dorff to snarl at Slater, who in turn just looks bored.
The monsters are not badly done, but are nothing much to write home about; basic lizard scorpions with little to recommend them.
The alleged relationship between Alline and Carnby is not convincing.
The film is chocker with characters who exist only to die and build tension and/or pathos, which their deaths thus fail to do.
In a totally bizarre stinger, it turns out that our ‘heroes’ lost, and didn’t seal the door; the city of Townsville was evacuated (or everyone was killed, perhaps?) and we close with an unseen creature PoV chasing Carnby and Alline in the middle of a street at about noon, when we were told that they are fatally vulnerable to daylight.
What’s right with it?
Dorff is acting his little heart out. Compared to Slater’s half-arsing it looks almost Oscar-worthy.
Boll apparently shelled out for a decent Nightwish track on the end credits.
How bad is it really?
It’s just so monumentally hard to care about anyone in this crapfest, that’s the real problem. There’s no care, so no fear, so no tension. Also, and I hate to be a stickler, but there is a notable lack of Carnby – or anyone really – being at any stage both alone, and in the dark.
Best bit (if such there is)?
What’s up with…?
- Uwe Boll? I mean, I know we’ve talked about this before, but does Uwe Boll actually hate computer games? It seems to be the only reasonable explanation for the way he abuses their plots, thematic resonances and… well, everything.
Production values – The monster effects are okay, but the lighting is dodgy and shooting off-screen always looks terrible. 13
Dialogue and performances – Stephen Dorff does his best, but the script is awful and no-one else seems to have their heart in it. 16
Plot and execution – Stock horror with bits of sci-fi crates a combination which fails to grip in the slightest. 17
Randomness – Abkani! The Erebus! Men! No, wait… 12
Waste of potential – Well, given that that game it is based on is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike this film, and given Boll’s tendency to wilfully destroy all that he touches (including, let it be acknowledged, film critics with who overestimate their athleticism) it is hard not to think that it could have been better. 14