“He never struck me as the kind of guy who’d go get small. Wow!”
Alexander Payne’s social satire takes a fascinating concept — shrinking part of the human population to reduce environmental impact — but fails to explore it in any real depth as he prefers to follow his usual brand of mid-life crisis tale against that tantalising backdrop. There is a biting cynicism toward a brand of faux-environmentalism in which people only engage when it offers other benefits to their lifestyle or economic situation. In “downsized” communities, minimal wealth earned outside translates to luxury living which is the real draw for most residents. Though peppered with interesting ideas, Downsizing‘s ultimate message seems to be that we ought to care for the people around us now rather than engaging in high-minded attempts to save the species. For that to be the only real take-away feels like a wasted opportunity.
Vampires and videogames may sound on-brand for me but, directed by notorious hack Uwe Boll, BloodRayne isn’t just bad — it’s aggressively awful. Watching distinguished actors slumming it can be fun when they cut loose and enjoy themselves but the universally lifeless performances feel almost like a directorial choice as much as disinterested apathy. Ditching the videogame’s mindlessly enjoyable vampires vs Nazis hook (presumably so that he could still take advantage of the German tax incentives that enable his career), Boll transplants the dhampir Rayne into a wafer-thin medieval fantasy revenge tale with atrocious dialogue that would be embarrassing even in an interactive medium. I admit to finding a brief glimmer of genuine entertainment in a few scenes where the film unintentionally descended into a parody of itself. Incredibly, Boll made two more of these; unsurprisingly, almost none of the cast returned.