- Trotting out that weakest and most overused of wish-fulfillment fantasy tropes, a prophesied Chosen One drawn from the real world to rescue a magical world
- Casting Dolph Lundgren as that Chosen One, and expecting him to act and emote as well as beat up an endless horde of grubby, barely costumed generic medieval dudes
- Making a $7 million movie look like an amateur project staged by a not-very-talented Ren Faire cast, right up to the climactic scene, which ends a would-be lavish fantasy epic with a two-man fistfight in a cruddy little modern-day Vancouver apartment
Defender: Director Uwe Boll
Tone of commentary: Earnest, but phenomenally dull. Whither the crazed, belligerent Uwe Boll of commentary tracks past, the one who once ranted about shooting his movies in China to take advantage of cheap child labor, bitched about his prudish starlets refusing to get naked, boasted about tricking a crew member into a bet that left her hospitalized, and most memorably, mocked Owen Wilson for failing at his suicide attempt? Did Boll adjust his meds? Can he no longer afford cocaine?
Whatever the reason, his Two Worlds commentary is painfully banal, focused foremost on describing where and in what order scenes were shot, or what’s going on onscreen. He lists crew members, talks about tax credits for shooting in Vancouver, and tells a rambling story about stopping at a particular Starbucks so often that they eventually had his drink ready and waiting for him every morning. He talks at length about his dogs, and how he lets them run free around the set, because the most important thing for dogs is that they be with their owners and “have a little action in their lives.” He explains, in detail, the specific hours he used to work day-to-day, and how the shooting schedule functioned. He yawns, then excuses himself by saying it’s just jet lag, then studiously explains time zones. He offers a timeline of his filmmaking career, one movie and one year at a time. Not to put too fine a point on it, the man drones.
Apparently he’s even boring to himself. At one point, he takes a cell-phone call, and tells the caller that it’s no problem, including his phone calls on his commentaries is a tradition. Then they have a leisurely, jokey conversation about an upcoming weekend gathering where Boll is scheduled to bring the European olive oil.
The commentary’s most engaged segment has nothing to do with the film, as he diverges off into a speech about how the film industry has changed, and how fucked-up the world economy is, and how pirating has hurt the industry. He says there are no video-rental stores left in many European countries, while in Russia, he can walk into a store and see legit copies of his films for 10 euros on the shelves right next to the 1-euro bootleg all the customers buy instead. And then he describes the 2008 financial bailout as “the most important subject on earth,” and says he wants to make a Taxi Driver/Falling Down-esque “angry movie” about it: “The 2008 bailout basically swallowed more money as everything what ever happened in history on this planet combined. So all the costs of the First, Second World War, of Vietnam, Korea, of everything what the States ever spent for building streets or whatever, combined, of all times, was less as the money the States created as new debt and pumped into the market, 2008, 2009.” He eventually wraps up by saying he hopes the failing market and economy at least lets him continue to make films, because he loves every aspect of it.
What went wrong: Dolph Lundgren injured himself in the first scene they shot, and couldn’t run afterward, so the film’s many running scenes required a stunt double. The snowy Vancouver setting and the shooting site’s distance from the city meant people were constantly arriving late, sometimes because they’d skidded into ditches. They had very little money for costumes, so they rented some previously used on the 2010 Russell Crowe Robin Hood. For financial reasons, Boll had to make this his first digitally shot film, which has the advantage of being cheap, but he feels the images are “20 percent less quality,” and the actors don’t focus nearly as much when they know they can retake a scene as many times as they want. Also, it makes things harder in the editing room when he has to pick between 20 takes instead of two or three.
And to top it all off, there was the major accident on the last day of shooting. The man refilling the heater tanks leaked gasoline all over the place, causing a huge explosion: “And I saw my car in a fireball, and then we heard, like, people screaming, and then we saw people are burning, and some people were flying through the air… We had to tackle people down, put the fire out, and one guy broke his leg, and other people had burning things, and then of course the police came, the fire trucks, the helicopters. It was everywhere in the press, what happened… it was a total disaster.” Mostly, though, he was annoyed because there was a police investigation, and he was told not to resume shooting until it ended, and he didn’t see any reason not to continue. After all, two people needed skin grafts, but “only on the arm or something.”
Comments on the cast: Boll enthusiastically provides a pocket history of Lundgren’s career and their relationship, which began when they met at a Timur Bekmambetov film festival and hit it off. Boll offered him the job, but Lundgren refused, only coming back after other projects fell through. Boll doesn’t mind, and praises Lundgren for staying in better shape for his age than Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme. As to co-star Natassia Malthe, Boll mostly notes that she couldn’t get nude here because Two Worlds is “more a family friendly film,” but that viewers who want to see her naked and engaged in “girl-on-girl action” should check out BloodRayne 3.
Inevitable dash of pretension: Boll is disappointed at Malthe’s handling of ridiculous lines like, “Not in the slightest am I content with my lot in this cursed life!… If we shall perish anon, I will not die unfulfilled!” and, “It was an honor to fight by your side and mate with you as your woman!” He suspects they were just too sophisticated for her: “She had some problems with more the Royal Shakespearian kind of acting what you have to do for a period piece. So the more British-orientated actors are pulling off stuff like this better.”
And he muses over the film’s distractingly cheap-looking CGI dragon at length, talking about how it was a delicate mixture of a tyrannosaurus and other cultural elements: “How can you create something what is not looking like Aliens, you know, the Giger? Because a lot of creatures in a way are looking like this, and then you get a little into The Relic, for example, you combine things out of different movies.” In the end, he says bringing in “the Aliens threat” was what made it work.
Commentary in a nutshell: “Tax breaks for movies disappeared, and then I went public with my company, but it was not the time where you could make a lot of money in the stock market, so I kept the stock company alive the whole time, but it was a financial—it was a waste of resources and of money, so I took, I started buying my stocks back, and then finally I was able to liquidate my stock-holding company, and also to close down and liquidate all the 11 funds I do, and I’m in the process of closing all the funds…” etc. etc. zzz.