In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale Reviews
Uwe Boll Sucks!
I'm not going to say that this movie rips off the Lord of the Rings, but there are some elements that are surprisingly similar. We've got the dueling wizards, with John Rhys-Davies (who played Gimli in the Peter Jackson films) playing the good counterpart to Gallian, we've got the armies of orcs, the elf-like forest creatures, the shadowy horse riders that Gallian uses to command his armies and a couple of scenes here and there. I'm not saying that this is a terrible movie because of these though, I'm saying the movie's so bad even if it was the first fantasy film you ever saw it you would have a hard time sitting through it.
First of all, what kind of protagonist are we given? A guy named "Farmer". Apparently he calls himself that because he believes that a man is whatever he does. Does that mean that if he becomes the mayor of the town he'll change his name to "Mayor Mayor"? Jason Statham has had his share of bad movies but he's never been more wooden or less charismatic than here. Even when he's throwing boomerangs or inexplicably doing karate kicks, you'll wish the film was following someone else. Singling out Statham isn't quite fair though because pretty much everyone here comes off as an amateur. Matthew Lillard plays his character way over the top. It's a wonder the guy hasn't been thrown in a dungeon under suspicion of every single unsolved murder in the city. Ray Liotta looks absolutely bored in every scene he's in, but might just be trying to turn invisible so no one notices him. Overall, everyone is trying to get through the cringe-worthy dialogue as best they can but few escape unharmed. I'd give some examples, but the film's lack of subtitles (an inexcusable sin considering this Dvd was released in 2008) makes it hard to quote.
I was actually taken aback by how shoddy the action sequences were. Every scene where farmer goes around kicking looks very staged and are not the least bit exciting. Late into the film they explain why our titular character is able to kick so much ass, but until then these Krugs come off as real chumps. A significant amount of them fall down after being kicked in the chest and then never get up and come on, they can't take down an old guy armed with a pickaxe? Story-wise, it comes off as pretty laughable often. I know it's for dramatic effect, but I'd like to imagine that the reason there happened to be a wedding going on when the Krugs first attack is that they're just jerks and wanted to ruin this perfect day by setting the town on fire and killing everyone in sight. Even the special effects aren't very good. Whenever Farmer throws his boomerang, it's an obvious computer generated effect and several of the environments looks downright cheap. I'm not talking about the sets, which are decent enough. I'm talking about the wide shots with castles and such.
To the film's credit the Krugs and done with practical costumes and while their armour and weapons look cheap, at least they don't clash with the hapless villagers they're slaughtering. The elves (or whatever they are called, to my knowledge they were never named in the movie) are played by talented acrobats that do their own stunts. Hurray for faint praise!
The fact that I had to re-watch part of the film to jog my memory brings me to the film's biggest flaw: it's too long and it's boring. This beast runs at slightly over two hours and there's just nothing here that will capture your interest. The characters barely have any personalities, the legions of opponents aren't menacing and their masters are one-dimensional. The battles are edited frenetically, meaning you're going to have a hard time figuring out who is winning and which character is dying when things get rough. It's really difficult to explain why the film is boring, but I can easily see people turning this one off before finishing it. It's Uwe Boll's shoddy direction that sinks what could have been at the very least a film that's so-bad-it's-good into an absolute bore to sit through.
Not even a reasonably big budget could save the curse of Uwe Boll. "In the Name of the King" proves itself to be a film that is utterly devoid of any fun moments, aside from a few action scenes where you can laugh at them ironically. It's absolutely terrible and I beg of you to stay away from it. (Theatrical version on Dvd, January 24, 2014)
Several of the sweeping landscape shots, echoing Peter Jackson's approach to showcasing New Zealand, even up to and including a rather decent little wizard's keep with traditional lava flows, are not bad. Others though, especially those featuring the castle of the good king (more on him later), are quite transparently dodgy CGI, perhaps the addition of a coconut clapping squire exclaiming 'it's only a model!' would have helped here.
Writers, perhaps, were not where the money was spent, either in overall plot concept or dialogue. Mysterious orphan being heir to the throne is not really a trope still in the blossoming of its youth, though the man could make a good business selling dream turnips to various incarnations of the Baldrick family. His proficiency with a machete/sword and a boomerang early on indicates he is either the son of a great and noble line, or the Hero of Time reborn. Unfortunately he has no green hat, or indeed any wardrobe change within the whole two odd hours, even after becoming king (ironically the machinations of the known next-in-line, good king's nephew, are what cause his status to become known, not sure if this irony, or vague Macbeth-like plot device are intended, probably not).
Other points of interest include the vaguely elven/Amazonian pseudo-pacifist forest dwellers and their magic ivy, good king and his fascinating accent (accents being randomly scattered throughout the population by the god or gods (although it is quite clear the goodies have a religion the invoked power/s are rather evenly split between the singular and plural), who is clearly a very good and just man because he knows about a village capable of raising two crops a year because seaweed is washed onto it, enriching the soil (salt water not being an issue in this magical land). Oh, and the 'krug' who are an apparently boorish and stupid race, with no desire to do anything, unless an evil wizard says so.
The evil wizard, who seems to come from Las Vegas, is the real villain of the piece, with an accent perhaps even more jarring than good king's, he opens the piece by apparently draining the magic power out of good wizard's daughter mid-coitus, before running off to mastermind the krug attack from the midst of his swirling cyclone of clichéd dialogue, whence he seemingly possesses all the leadership amongst the non-human baddies at once, controlling his minions with vaguely fascistic arm movements, and sending his avatars one by one into the good guys' swords. Lucky for him, there are an infinite amount of bad guys to get slaughtered, indeed, when they aren't dying fast enough they jump into their own catapults, set themselves on fire and shoot themselves at their foes (except when their foes have the high ground but are backed onto a vast forest and using flaming munitions might actually have some tactical value).
Oh, did I mention good king has a squad of ninjas? He does, no idea why. They turn up when the krug learn to burrow under the ground and come up under people in the manner of zombies, but pop up occasionally even after the krug forget they can do that.
John Rhys-Davies turns up every now and again as the good wizard (sorry, magus). One hopes he was well paid, poor fellow. If only Peter Jackson had let him be a wizard as well as a dwarf and an ent he might not have felt the need for this.
In short, ludicrous film, real budget, great big mess. In honour of the concept I have written this review without editing or bothering to check it holds together. Maybe if you've managed to get this far you'll manage the film too.