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STUDIO: Vivendi Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
• Commentary with Director Uwe Boll
• Making of Stoic
• Deleted Scenes
Uwe Boll’s Rashomon meets Midnight Express
Edward Furlong, Shaun Sipos, Sam Levinson, Steffen Mennekes
Produced, written, and directed by Uwe Boll
Four guys go into a jail cell. Only three come out. 91 torturous minutes later, you find out what really happened and not only do you not care, you wish you had been the one who hadn’t made it out alive.
Surprisingly enough, this was the least sexually abusive torture method used.
What can I say about Uwe Boll that hasn’t already been said and that also won’t come off like another high-and-mighty reviewer hating on the German filmmaker who is so easy to love to hate? True that some artists get dumped on because it’s the popular thing to do. Keanu Reeves comes to mind — ask anyone and they’ll most likely be quick to talk about how he’s the worst actor ever, yet they also seem to have seen almost all of his movies at least once. We can talk about Paul Walker, too, yet we enjoy the absurdity and vacuous fun of the Fast and Furious movies. Or Brett Ratner, who was the du jour director to hate for most of the past decade, although even I will shamefully admit that Rush Hour 2 was pretty hilarious.
The thing about Uwe Boll is that there is no redeeming quality to his films. He doesn’t create guilty pleasures. He doesn’t make so-bad-they’re-good pictures. Uwe Boll’s films are so soul-crushingly bad that you really have to see them to understand the level of their putrescence. Although having actually sat through Stoic, I have to warn you to please just take my word for it. I know that that some lessons in life must be learned the hard way, but this is seriously not the time to be a hero.
Not content to be pigeonholed as simply the guy who inflicted psychological and
physical horrors upon his cellmate, Thierry enjoyed 17th century poetry,
hand-rolled cigarettes, and afternoon tea, which he took atop his perch on the top bunk.
Now, I actually welcomed watching this movie because I hadn’t yet been
privy to Boll’s artistry yet — I don’t count watching the first utterly
unwatchable fifteen minutes of Postal since that’s arguably one of his
lesser works (I mean, it’s not based on a video game so right there you
have to knock it down a few notches) — AUTHOR’S NOTE: actually, it’s come to light that Postal is indeed based on a video game after all… either way, it’s still unwatchable. I found myself intrigued by all
of the negative reviews of Boll’s films: “What could possibly make them
so bad?” I thought. Surely I’ve seen my share of terribly made films;
what makes Boll sink to the bottom of that group? Shortly after pressing
play on the DVD player, I lost that zeal to find out almost instantly.
Stoic purports to be a “lesson in brutality” and I have to say, those advertising guys got it right: this film is brutal on all levels — visually, narratively, and certainly existentially. I can’t remember a more painful film-watching experience than this — and I took 1970s World Cinema in college. I was literally squirming on my couch a mere fifteen minutes into this catastrophe, checking my watch every few seconds, hoping to will the next hour of my life to zoom by as quickly as possible with the least amount of pain. Part of me almost wants to give Boll credit for consciously making the creative choices that place the viewer smack dab in the middle of the pain and suffering bestowed upon the film’s victim, as if my boredom and sadness over the wasting of my life watching this film were Boll’s way of torturing us. But, alas, to find any deeper meaning or higher level of filmmaking here would only be imposing my own delusional ideas onto Boll’s incompetent crap.
“Look, guys, I tried to tell them that T3 was a pointless re-do of the second one,
but, hey, what could I do? Also – The Crow: Wicked Prayer was the tits.”
Visually, it doesn’t get any more bland than this: we’re either stuck in a small jail cell or we’re in an interrogation room locked off on a tripod while the surviving characters recall their version of the story to an off-screen and unheard interrogator. There is very little color on screen – aside from the playing cards and the bloody broom handle – and it’s lacking any depth or dynamism that the shadows and stark whites create in a truly black and white picture. Granted, the story takes place in prison where there most likely aren’t many hues outside of shades of gray — but where some movies can use a mostly monochromatic palette to great effect (Seven comes to mind here), Stoic merely looks like a cheap set. In an attempt to create a feeling of claustrophobia — which is fairly effective since I wanted out immediately — almost every shot in the jail cell is in close up with a hand-held camera and let’s just say director of photography Mathias Neumann won’t be getting any phone calls from Paul Greengrass anytime soon.
Eddie hated, HATED doing chores. Especially sweeping. He was going to be
even more pissed as soon as he noticed that he was using the wrong end.
Boll wrote this opus and it’s evident instantly that he’s a far worse
writer than director; he does manage to not break the 180-degree rule,
generally points the camera in the right direction of the action, and
remembers to take the lens cap off before yelling “Achtung!” But, this
script was just beyond abysmal. And after a quick glance online, it
doesn’t look like he had much more than an outline, preferring instead
to let his cast of has-beens and never-will-bes improvise their lines.
This explains the most boring card game ever captured on film that occupies the first 15 minutes of the game. Rounders this is
not. This is like playing cards with your odd-ball cousins for candy over Thanksgiving because your parents made you.
My thoughts exactly.
Edward “Y’know, Shit Like That” Furlong anchors the four-man acting group. And I say “anchor” simply because he’s the only thespian who has even remotely had any name recognition — and given the caliber of performances in this latest calamity in the Boll oeuvre, I’d say he’s the only one who ever will. Furlong plays the bad guy and it’s given away immediately by his grotesquely manicured facial hair; no good guy ever wears a mustache and neck-beard-goatee like that. The German Guy With an American Accent, The Crying Guy, and The Poor Bastard Who Gets Raped With a Broom Handle by John Connor round out the cast of four prisoners locked inside a jail cell — all for non-violent crimes, mind you — with no supervision. Not even a camera in the corner of the room? Really? There is, however, a big red button next to the door that is there for emergencies, although when the Soon-To-Be-Dead Guy manages to hit the alarm, the guards merely chime in on the intercom to ask how things are and don’t bother to come investigate. Maybe they knew what movie was being filmed and knew to stay away. If they had stopped by, they would’ve seen three prisoners taking turns force-feeding their cellmate a tube of toothpaste and subsequently his own vomit; the German Guy raping the poor bastard; John Connor raping him with a broom handle; dumping urine on his face; and, then, finally hanging him up by his bed sheets to make it look like a suicide.
That’s the movie, folks, and it’s told like Boll had just seen Rashomon and thought, “Hey, I can do that!” with the sadistic prisoners telling their versions of the story to some unseen interrogator, which offers zero sense of mystery or suspense whatsoever… Okay, if you’ve made it this far in this review, you should commend yourself as you might actually have the mental fortitude to handle this movie. It’s the kind of movie that you honestly can’t believe was made. The kind that makes you livid knowing that filmmakers with actual talent can’t even get anyone to read their scripts while Boll puts out festering filth like this on a regular basis. The kind that makes you realize that there truly is injustice in the world; that bad luck really does float around and land on some of us while leaving others untouched.
“Y’know, Phil, I know of this really great flick-“
“If you say Crash one more time, I swear to Christ…”
Out of all DVDs to come with loads of extra features, it had to be this one. As if anyone who actually made it through all 91 minutes of this vile excuse for cinema would bother subjecting themselves to Uwe Boll’s commentary, a Making of Stoic documentary, or deleted scenes. Seriously? I think Boll has taken his whole brutality lesson way too far with this. Even Mark Thiessen wouldn’t defend this abuse.
“Hey, fellas, have you seen that dude that I brought with me? I was wearing him earlier,
and then I got hot and took him off. I thought I set him down up here
on this bed, but now it’s gone. Did you move him or hang him up anywhere?”