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Review: Postal and Tunnel Rats

April 15, 2011

I’ve been putting off starting this review all week. Some of you might be wondering why. Then, perhaps you are not familiar with Uwe Boll. Let’s compare some of his films with their IMDB ratings.

So it’s fair to say that Hitchcock, he ain’t. In fact, his highest-rating game adaptation is…Postal, the movie I’m reviewing this week. I swear to you, I didn’t know that when I chose this back in March. I did know that I wanted to devote an entire week to this man. Now that the basics are covered, let’s move on to Uwe Boll Suckfest ’11!

There is absolutely no way to get around this. No way to soften this at all, or metaphor I can use. Postal begins with American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. And the scene is completely irrelevant. It could be completely removed from the film without impacting the narrative in any way. That…actually hurt to write. It’s like Uwe just punched me in the stomach. I’m three minutes and thirty-one seconds into this movie, and I am absolutely convinced that Uwe Boll is a real-life troll.

After…that happens, we jump into the actual story. The Postal Dude is at home, getting ready for an interview. Then cut to the local convenience store, Habib’s Lucky Ganesh, which has a secret Taliban hideout in the back room. A package is being shipped from Afghanistan that will allow them to complete their jihad in the city of Paradise, Arizona. Cut to the local cult, led by Postal Dude’s uncle, Dave, played by…Dave Foley?! Oh get the hell out of this movie, Dave Foley! You were in Kids in the Hall, for fuck’s sake! You’re better than this.

His assistant, Richard, tells him that unless they pay the IRS $1,300,000.73, that Uncle Dave will be arrested. Cut to a police car stuck behind an elderly Korean woman at a green light. After explaining the situation to her, and her still not understanding, the cop who went to get her to go shoots her five times with a shotgun. Cut to Postal Dude at a coffee shop picking up lattes for himself and his Uncle Dave. Dave freely admits that the whole thing is a scam, and then asks him to participate in a plan he has to get the IRS money. Cut to Postal Dude at the welfare office, where a firefight ensues, because this is Postal, goddammit! Meanwhile, Dude is on the floor, trading up for his number in line, only to have them close when he gets up there. Bureaucrats, amirite? (I am not right.)

I’m going to forgo the play-by-play and rush through this, so it can be over. Postal Dude joins forces with Uncle Dave to steal Krotchy dolls from the Little Germany theme park. The Taliban has an identical plan. After dressing in Nazi armbands and Hitler mustaches (Don’t ask, it’ll be over faster) they infiltrate the park while the owner is being interviewed. The owner, of course, is played by Boll himself. Uncle Dave and team make off with the dolls while the Taliban rappel into the park. And in one somehow satisfying moment, Vince Deal, creator of the game Postal, tackles Uwe Boll for fucking up his game. Blah, blah, big firefight, mayoral candidate killed, Postal Dude blamed, knocks out a cop, steals his uniform, blows up his trailer while his wife is cheating on him, big shootout, touching speech, George W. and Osama skip through a field, nuclear explosion, roll credits.

If it seems like I sort of gave up around the theme park scene, that’s because I did. It just so happens that the midpoint of the movie is right around the place that the material for one movie peters out. It’s almost as though they wrote a movie and a sequel and then smashed them together. The pacing is horrible. If it’s not cutting away to make sure that you form absolutely no emotional connections, it’s spending way too much time on sub-plots that ultimately wind up at cheap jokes, or on firefights that I swear are in the movie solely as a link to the game. To the film’s credit, the set designers must have played the game, or at the very least watched a video walkthrough. Things like the cult compound, the trailer park, and Habib’s look like they were lifted straight from the game. And it was…kind of nice to see Uwe Boll poking fun at himself in the park, even referencing his boxing matches with critics by wearing boxing gloves during his fight with Vince Deal. There is only one cut in this movie: the jump cut. And after a while, it just gets old. You may be tempted to watch this movie. Don’t. Trust me on this, you will not like what you see.

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Tunnel Rats is based on a 2008 film by Uwe Boll, in a brutal subversion of his usual methods. This has resulted in an infinite Möbius lemniscate which created an alternate universe ruled by trolls, where Boll is universally respected.

Anyway. The Tunnel Rats movie is, I suppose, Boll’s attempt to make something like Apocalypse Now, only without writing a script. And it shows in the game. You play as the only survivor of a search and rescue mission, your helicopter shot down in the opening…uh…slideshow. And that’s pretty much the only time you hear other people alive. There is very little NPC interaction in the game, and the main focus seems to be on the main character’s inner monologue. On the few instances when you do encounter enemies, it’s almost insultingly easy. The AI is moronic, charging at you with a knife while you have a gun. The iron sights feature is unnecessary because the weapons are accurate to the point that you won’t need them.

But the real shit-stopper is the writing. Dear God, the writing. It’s trying to come off as being deep, but the problem is that it sounds like it’s trying to be deep. It just ends up being cliché, and it really shows that the actors really don’t give a shit. I can actually tell what the actors were thinking while reading their lines. “Okay, we’re just gonna do this quick so I can go cash my check.” The graphics…actually, the graphics aren’t that bad. The sky seems a little flat sometimes, but overall, yeah. Not too bad. Which just makes it all the more painful that everything else in the game is…well, it’s just terrible. I knew I said that this month was going to be about things that were bad but enjoyable, but I just had to take my shots at Uwe. And if he’s counting, this makes two bad reviews. And if he challenges me to box, it will be on. As always, you can talk back in the comments section, and I’m now on Twitter, @mcneilryan.

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