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Christopher J Oatis avatar 5:56 PM on 04.30.2010
Alone in the Dark II: Another Reason to make VG movies illegal

The other day I sat down and watched, against my better judgment, Alone in the Dark II (2008). I got nostalgic and soon found myself suckered in with the mentality that it couldn't ruin one of my favorite childhood franchises worse than Uwe Boll did. I was dreadfully wrong.

Growing up, Alone in the Dark's signature hero, Edward Carnby, was the Chris Redfield before there was a Chris Redfield. He could shoot his way through a house full of zombies, and if he ran out of bullets he'd a grab a knife from the cutting board or even the cutting board itself and crack open some rotted heads. If that didn't work he would just throw some killer head-butts and crescent kicks. Let's see Redfield do that.

However, with superior graphics, the Resident Evil franchise took the spotlight away from its spiritual grandfather, so Alone in the Dark attempted to revamp for the new millennium with Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (2001) which moved Carnby and the franchise out of prohibition era America into modern day with some lame explanation about the character being a descendant in some secret organization that passes down the name... really a load of marketing garbage to try to compete with Resident Evil. Carnby, himself, was transformed into a Fox Mulderish wise cracking, early thirty-something, and if that wasn't bad enough they even paired him with a red-head love interest and threw some government agency conspiracy into the mix.

Unfortunately, this "X-file" that no one should have opened gave Uwe Boll, the worst German since WWII, an idea. And when Uwe Boll gets an idea, a beloved survival horror title becomes a disgrace.

Boll's "brilliant" vision of bringing Alone in the Dark (2005) to the screen cast Christian-we thought your career was over-Slater as Carnby while Tara-bad boob job-Reid played the Dana Scully-ish character. The movie was mess of bad slow motion, half-assed CGI monsters, plot holes, and Stephen Dorff - the guy you wouldn't know if he wasn't the villan in the first Blade movie - who brought plenty of terrible over-acting as the psudeo-villian that, of course, turns good just in time to save the day. While Slater was, in retrospect, a passible Carnby, the movie itself was terrible and only loosely based on anything anywhere in the games.

After the dust cleared from that mess, I was content on going back to playing the original trilogy on an old laptop and forgetting about the other two massacres until Atari decided they were going to try to make everything better by resurrecting Carnby in 2008 with the simply titled Alone in the Dark, which did its best to try to create a plot that would completely discount everything that happened in The New Nightmare and Boll's piece of trash by simply pretending the game, and the horrible movie based on it, never happened -what I like to refer to as the Highlander 3 maneuver. Nevertheless, this new Alone in the Dark expected us to swallow the fact that Carnby Rip-Van-Winkled it sometime during the Hoover administration and woke up in modern times. Iwould be wiling to swallow this if the gameplay wasn't a mess of innovation for the sake of it, an over extended mutli-genre debacle, and filled with more bugs than an apartment in Baltimore. At least, I was sure now that the franchise couldn't get any worse?

Then I sat down and watched Alone in the Dark II (2008). Although, why it has the right to be a "2" to anything still remains cryptic. The original game to bear that title was about zombie pirates turned bootleggers kidnapping a little girl during prohibition and this is definitely not that. You could try to make the case that it's a sequel to the Boll monstrosity, but honestly you would have to get some military quality bungee to make a stretch like that since the plot bares no resemblance to anything Alone in the Dark. Maybe most insulting is that Carnby is now portrayed by Rick Yune, whose ethnic background is completely different than that of the character he is portraying. Real good continuity, people! Perhaps the producers should just be honest about the fact that they just stamped the franchise name on their crappy movie and put Carnby's dog tags on Yune's horrible character because they wanted people like myself to get suckered into watching it.

However, if the film was even average I wouldn't have cared. Instead, it unloads its abysmal writing by kicking off with a shootout/chase scene that has something to do with a witch, a dagger, and some group of demon hunters that run around firing big guns at bad blurs of CGI while yelling poorly acted lines to each other through cool stylish headsets. Carnby somehow, which remains puzzling (yes five minutes in and its already confusing) becomes involved with the dagger, gets stabbed with it, and spends the next half hour being carried around by the demon hunters group. While Carnby is lying around bed whining, Lance Henriksen - who we want to like because he was Bishop from Aliens - goes on this whole rant about how he's not going to get involved, probably setting up the reluctant hero that has sacrifice himself cliche. Then we cut to more shootouts with the CGI blur.

If you haven't surmised it, the film was unwatchable, made Uwe Boll look like Martin Scorsese, and I couldn't even force myCarn1self to finish it, which leaves me with one nagging question. Do I want there be to another Alone in the Dark anything? It's a really sad reality because this series had some strong potential back in 1992. Back then, there wasn't anything like it. Dark halls, puzzles, guns, and Lovecraft style creepiness: footprints in the distance and macabre sneaking up on you from behind every corner had never rooted itself in the world of gaming. This franchise should have developed into something fantastic as technology improved. Instead, we get a character that's completely revamped too many times, too far separated from his tough-as-nails Charles Bronson meets Macgyver roots, and four bad attempts at trying to have this franchise claim a foothold with a new generation. Can the real Edward Carnby please start cracking some more heads with a frying pan, and maybe box the hell out of Uwe Boll, until we get another decent entry into the franchise?

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