Jason Statham - Farmer Daimon
Ray Liotta - Gallian
Leelee Sobieski - Muriella
Burt Reynolds - King Konreid
Ron Perlman - Norrick
Matthew Lillard - Duke Fallow
Kristanna Loken - Elora
Claire Forlani - Solana
John Rhys Davies - Merick
Year - 2008
Running Time - 124 min
Score - 1 Howl Outta 4
I think it's pretty common knowledge, for those knowledgeable in films and the entertainment world, that Uwe Boll is probably one of the most controversial directors we have right now. It isn't because the material he writes and directs is taboo or offensive on a moral level. It's because Boll seems to be capturing the title of "21st Century Ed Wood" with a smirk on his face. While he's not the worst filmmaker in the world, his track record when it comes to video game adaptations has been bad. Really bad. Chernobyl bad. So why is he allowed to continue to make more films? Why do we even watch them, knowing they'll probably suck ass? It's because Boll revels in his awfulness [even though he doesn't believe he's an awful filmmaker] and will box anyone who thinks he sucks. All those negative reviews are considered nothing but jealousy in his little mind. While totally egotistical, his actions are perversely charming, appealing, and highly entertaining. Too bad HOUSE OF THE DEAD, ALONE IN THE DARK, BLOODRAYNE, and BLOODRAYNE 2 can't be described in the same way.
So I was struggling when it came to watching IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. I knew it was gonna be bad. But Jason Statham is in it and I'm a fan of the dude. Statham's films may not be the greatest or the most memorable, but he's a good actor and an even better action star that should be bigger than he currently is. So I took the chance and watched this TWO HOUR film based on a game I've never played. To my surprise, it was the best Uwe Boll film I've seen so far. To my unsurprise, it was still subpar and it did a lot of things wrong. But hey, at least the guy's improving right?
In the Kingdom of Ehb, an evil magus named Gallian (Ray Liotta) resurrects some ugly demonic things in order to steal rulership from King Konreid (Burt Reynolds). To gain an advantage, Gallian has seduced the daughter (Leelee Sobieski) of the King's mage (John Rhys Davies). He's also has been given help from the King's nephew (Matthew Lillard), who wants his uncle to die in order to become King himself.
As Gallian begins terrorizing Ehb, a quiet farmer named, um, Farmer (Jason Statham) is forced into stopping these demons after they go after his son and wife, Solana (Claire Forlani). Unfortunately while Farmer is fighting away demons, his son is murdered and his wife gets kidnapped by the Krug demons. Wanting revenge for the destruction of his family, Farmer gathers his friends and meets strange personalities along his quest to find his wife, learning that he may be the only hope for Ehb's survival.
IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE was heavily promoted earlier this year, but with Uwe Boll's name attached and a trailer that shows the best parts of the film [which aren't all that great to begin with - how sad], the film was distributed to maybe 1500 theaters and didn't even crack the Top 10 of the U.S. Box Office, failing right at the start. While the film isn't good, it does deserve an audience - only to show people that there are some idiots out there who still think giving Uwe Boll money to direct a film is a GOOD investment. While IN THE NAME OF THE KING is Boll's best film, really - does that say a whole lot?
Sixty million dollars. That's how much this film cost to make. Really? Sixty million? For THIS? Couldn't that money have gotten some better use? Like for cancer or AIDS research? Maybe to build homes for people who don't have any sort of shelter? Why not use this money to make Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt just go away? It's absolutely ridiculous for any movie studio to give this amount of cash to a man whose track record with successful films is as good as Amy Winehouse's track record with sobriety.
And where did this money go to? None of these actors are what I would call true A-list. The special effects? Like that floating sword fight? You don't mean those strobelights that were around Ray Liotta as he controlled the lead Krug soldier and watched his victims in a blurred, sort of dreamlike point of view? Dude, I can get that same kind of point of view while on ecstasy in a nightclub. And what about those Krugs, huh? Looks like the MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS lost a few villains on the way to the set. Oh, they were really meant for IN THE NAME OF THE KING? Wow, how foolish of me to think otherwise! Seriously, this film looks cheaply made and has a limited vision. It's obvious the money went right into Uwe Boll's bank account for his next few films. Boy, I can't wait for those masterpieces!
I'm being totally sarcastic right now because if the script was tighter and if the budget was used correctly, this could have been a pretty good film worth more than a single watch. All the elements were there: Pretty people, Decent battle sequences, and motivations for each character that could compel the audience into wanting to know and CARE what will happen to them. Instead, all I got was THE LORD OF THE RINGS, except without the epicness of it all, characters you could care about, twists that actually made sense, and special effects that actually worked well and didn't make me laugh. It just feels like such a rip off and it only makes Peter Jackson's work that much better. The story was just so clumsy and just so bland that I wondered how I kept watching this. I appreciated that things were actually happening and leading somewhere, but the ride getting there was boring as hell. The characters weren't developed at all, people would pop in and out without really adding much to the film, and the story's "twist" with Farmer came out of left field. When the reveal occurred, I was like, "Where the fuck did that come from?" I couldn't help but laugh. Even the dialogue is unintentionally funny.
Muriella - "Must you always appear suddenly from nowhere?"
Gallian - "I don't. I appear so suddenly from somewhere."
Muriella - "I knew you'd come."
Gallian - "I told you I would."
Muriella - "I mean, I felt. I felt it before you came."
I swear I heard this line in a Jenna Jameson film once.
Norick - "So this is where we pay for our sins?"
Solana - "No. This is where we pay for our virtues. Sins are more than welcome here."
WHAT THE FUCK!? Sigh...let's move on.
Uwe Boll has improved his directorial skills because at least the film was at least watchable for the most part. Too bad it feels too long [2 hours - are you shitting me?] and seems to repeat itself when it comes to pacing its scenes. Even the editing is choppy, especially during battle sequences. Seriously, it felt like watching one of those modern incarnations of POWER RANGERS, where sword swipes doesn't damage the enemy and choregraphy where the people involved had to help each other stick to their choregraphed moves. But at least it was watchable and fun to point out flaws. Boll attempts to make the film feel epic with so many extras, when in reality, there are probably just 20 or 30 of them edited to quadruple that amount. The cinematography is okay at best, although this Kingdom of Ehb looks so depressing that not even the homeless would want to live here. And the last half of the film just felt weaker than the first half when it came to visually keeping up with the story. At least Boll was trying but it's still far from good enough.
The acting is all over the place here. Jason Statham keeps his dignity intact with his protrayal as Farmer. Hands down the best actor in the film, he keeps a straight face through it all. The man is a great actor to pull that off. He's subtle in the role, which is refreshing from all the other clowns in this film. Plus he can do battle choregraphy really well, so it worked for me. I just wish he would have picked a better movie than this one.
Ray Liotta, on the hand, was an embarrassment as the villain Gallian. One, he looked like Liberace. Two, he either underacted or overacted, unsure of which style to maintain throughout the film. I was never really sure what this guy's deal was or why he was so fashion-forward unlike the other people in the cast. When's the last time this actor has made a good film? Someone needs to fire their agent...
Everyone else was just there. Burt Reynolds needed a paycheck and looks uncomfortable playing a really unimpressive and boring King in this film. Will Sanderson and Ron Perlman attempt to be the goofy sidekicks to Statham, but they only look like fools instead. Leelee Sobieski, Claire Forlani, and Kristanna Loken don't do much of anything and pretty much look bored. At least all three are pretty smokin'. John Rhys-Davies, who was actually in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, is actually pretty good here as the mage. Even with the horrible dialogue he had to spew, it made it classy nonetheless. Quite the feat.
And then we have Matthew Lillard as Duke Fallow, the nephew of the King. Oh. My. God. What an annoying protrayal by an annoying actor. I haven't seen acting this bad in a movie that went straight to the theater since...wow, I can't even recall. It's so embarrassing that I honestly don't have the words to describe the level of it. I wanted him dead the moment he started talking like an ass and making really dumb contortions with his goofy face. If he doesn't win an Razzie for Worst Actor of 2008, I'll be shocked. He's that horrible. Stick to SCOOBY-DOO, assmunch!
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE LOSING BRAIN CELLS ON THIS FILM
- Farmer's son was given his first pig. It's great for every farm boy to go through his rite of passage by inserting himself into bacon before inserting bacon into him.
- The women can't get enough of Jason Statham. After all, he knows a thing or two about SNATCH.
- Farmer calls herself "Farmer" because he believes people become what they do. If that's the case, then why isn't Paris Hilton calling herself "Skank Whore"?
- Farmer used a boomerang to ward off some of the Krugs. Looks like those Legend of Zelda games did their job.
- Leelee Sobieski knows how to use a sword extremely well. I'm sure she gets a lot of dates.
- Ray Liotta is dressed like Liberace. I knew he was in GOODFELLAS, but I didn't realize he was looking for some as well!
- A wizard was brought in to see if he could magically save the King from poison. If it were me, I would have brought in Bel Biv Devoe. They seem knowledgeable on the subject.
- The King, after learning his true relationship with Farmer, wonders what tricks the Gods are playing on him. Probably the same trick his plastic surgeon played on his face. Geez!
- Norick got killed fighting for his freedom. He sure gave those Krugs HELL, BOY.
THE FINAL HOWL
IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE is one of Uwe Boll's better films, but that's like saying drowning is better than strangulation. This is the kind of film you rent with your friends, get drunk or high to, and then just laugh away at how ridiculous it all is. It's worthy of getting made fun of. At least it somewhat entertained me, but it also took away two hours of my precious time. That can never be forgiven. I sayeth this to thee, IN THE NAME OF THE KING - off with your head and straight into the WTF? Vault with thee!