Oh my goodness, there’s this really sad story I just have to tell you about: This guy, right, this guy I know – his name is Duke Nukem Forever. A really long time ago, Duke Nukem Forever told me that he was going to be the next Steven Spielberg. He had an amazing piece of cinema developing in his head, he told me. For years, he updated me on his progression and. you know, it looked like he was really going somewhere. He was going to make it big! I was really, really happy for him.
Then just after a while, he just kind of disappeared. I’d chime in from time to time, asking how things were going, and he’d always respond with, “Things are going.” Whatever that meant.
"…almost a decade and a half into his vision, and this was all there was to show for it."
Then, just a couple weeks ago, I knew what he meant. After all these years (I guess it’s been about… 14? Wow, that long? Crazy how time flies.) he was able to get his cinematic magnum opus done… on SyFy. It was just about the saddest thing I ever saw. Not the film itself, which was just kind of alright, but that he poured almost a decade and a half into his vision, and this was all there was to show for it. Ugh, I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.
The weird thing, though, was that Duke Nukem Forever sent me an e-mail asking me what I thought about it. I didn’t exactly want to tell him what I felt at the moment right after watching it, because I had to let go of the 14 years that led up to that point. I looked at Duke Nukem Forever’s movie as it was, just another movie that happened to show up on TV.
Duke Nukem Forever tried to do it all – action, comedy, driving sections – and he managed to do them all on just a really competent, average level. It's pretty action-packed, but he really didn't get a grasp on how to pace the action. It's all competently shot and it can get legitimately exciting, but each particular section really goes on for far too long for it to ever be really effective. He'd shoot a turret sequence that outstayed its welcome well before it ended. He'd have waves and waves of bad guys come after the protagonist, and it'd get to be this really monotonous killing field where you just wish Duke Nukem Forever would just move onto another scene.
When he did try to put in a story beat or a puzzle-solving beat or whatever, it only really broke up the action. There would be parts where Duke Nukem Forever would have his guy jump around from platform to platform, or he'd twist a bunch of switches and valves around to get to his next action scene. I get what Duke Nukem Forever was trying to do, but he didn't do it well.
And after seeing what Duke Nukem Forever did with comedy, I really don't think he should try again. He'd manage to put in a really clever pun here and there, but most of it was dumb, forced, and dated pop culture references, like Christian Bale's meltdown on the Terminator set. Who the hell thinks that's relevant or funny anymore? It's been two years. Duke Nukem Forever's sense of humor is really crass, bone-headed, and simplistic.
It wasn't much of a looker either, especially for the kind of the ambitions Duke Nukem Forever had. It just managed to look good enough for a mid-budget production. Effects lacked much of a punch, and a lot of the creature designs had a really generic, evil look to them. There was no personality here, and I think the direction of a serious aesthetic didn't do it any favors. The same went for its soundtrack: just a lot of orchestral bombast, which just kind of worked, I guess.
Man, after 14 years, this was it. This was all Duke Nukem Forever had to show for it. I can tell that he had some great ambitions. There's clearly something much bigger and better here, but for whatever reason, Duke Nukem Forever wasn't able to translate his ideas into the medium. Just as a product, it's just fine, but a product in the making for 14 years, well, it's kind of sad.
Maybe next time, though. I believe in Duke Nukem Forever. I hope he learned a lot after all these years, because I'd love to see what he can do now. He's capable of great things. I know it.