In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
It may not happen often but sometimes the worse flicks become cult classics. My friends and I have debated for hours whether Ed Woods Jr., director of ‘Plan Nine from Outer Space’ was actually one of the worse directors ever or just a misunderstood comic genus. For a film to be that bad it seems at least possible that it was the intension of the director. Bad movies used to find a spot in the local drive in, grind house or midnight showings. In other words, even the worse flicks have a place in the cinematic world. One name stands at the nadir in the annals of working directors; Uwe Boll. He is the much maligned and often disparaged director of many films that belong in one of the venues just mentioned. One of his latest is under consideration here; ‘In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale’. This is basically Boll’s take on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ type of fantasy movie and needless to say Peter Jackson has absolutely nothing to worry about. I have on occasion watched a Boll flick with my friends. Typically we do the home version of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ as the movie is playing. This is the preferable way to watch any of his films; this one included. Have some beer and pizza delivered and relish in how bad the flick is; embrace the flaws and horrible production. If you are a fan of great cinema you would never go to the theaters to see one of his films; friends might see you on line and never stop making fun of that fact. This flick had a theatrical release with less than stellar results. It barely made a dent in recovering the $60 million budget. Since many would not want to take the chance of their friends seeing them on line for this movie it may do better with its home theater release. The DVD has been around for over a year now but the Blu-ray edition has just hit. Just in case you need to see a Boll flick in flawless high definition this is the way to go. A Uwe Boll flick is like an illegal drug. No one wants to admit that they are imbibing in it but the sales figures prove they are out there. If one ever got one of his films it would be impossible for Boll to get funding but someone is paying millions to let him produce flick after flick.
What passes for a script here was written by Doug Taylor loosely based on a video game by Chris Taylor and story by Doug Taylor and Jason Rappaport. Doug Taylor has one previous screenplay plus a couple of television episodes to his name. the story is a hodgepodge of various better made fantasy stories lumped together is a loose association. It is difficult to try to explain the plot since it is equally hard to follow. The characters are all archetypes from the usual fantasy games that have been around since the Dungeons ad Dragons craze. There are mystical mages, powerful warriors and a few beautiful young women to round things off a bit. The dialogue is stiff and riddled with clichés and will provide many laughs; albeit largely unintentional ones. To be fair there are some classic themes present here. There is a farmer who is drawn into a world of swords and sorcery that is far beyond his understanding. This is one of the earliest hero sagas around. He must leave the peace and routine of his home to venture out for the greater good. Obviously the tale has received a better treatment many times in the past. There is a little irony here in the framer’s choice of weapons; the boomerang. Many of the most notable fantasy films have been shot in New Zealand but this one was done in British Columbia. I don’t recall a lot of boomerang use up there.
Okay, this is an Uwe Boll flick so there are really no expectations of greatness going in. Boll has built his career on making low budget flicks based on video games. The one ray of hope his fans, and there are a few out there, was the budget given to the film. $60 million is not a lot for a fantasy movie with the necessity of special effects, creature makeup, medieval weaponry and appropriate costumes. In contrast one of his more lamentable flicks, ‘BloodRayne’ cost only $25 million. Even with this much expanded budget at his disposal Boll does what he is famous for; a flick that can’t hold itself together. Somehow Boll does manage to attract fairly well known and talented actors. Jason Statham is a highly sought after action star who has scored hits in the ‘Transporter’ and ‘Crank’ franchises. Here he plays the farmer. That’s it, no name given just ‘Farmer’. It is believable as a man forced into action by circumstances beyond his control. This is a classic use of the ‘reasonable man in unreasonable situations’ theme. To his credit Statham somehow manages to keep a straight face for the entire movie. This alone is a testimony to the professionalism of the man. The evil wizard, Gallian, is played by Ray Liotta. It is difficult to believe the same man that mesmerized audiences in ‘Goodfellas’ is in this flick but I guess times are hard even for Hollywood actors. He seems to try to play the role as campy as possible. His daughter is portrayed by the lovely and talented Leelee Sobieski. She has been one of the stars of the Indy world for awhile and is capable of far more depth and range that is permitted here. Also included in the cast are other notable names including Ron Perlman and Claire Forlani. A Boll film alumnus, Kristanna Loken is also present. One very strange piece of casting is the appearance of Burt Reynolds. He is a fish out of water here and most of his screen time just adds to the laughs.
One day while Farmer’s wife Solana (Forlani) go off to town with their son to sell their vegetables the farm is attacked. Farmer has to defend the homestead from demonic looking creatures called Krugs. He later travels to the city with his neighbor Norrick (Pearlman) to see what can be done. The Krugs are under the control of a wicked wizard who is out to dominate the world. There is a trip to fight the wizard and more than a few battles along the way. In other words typical video game faire but you just have to sit there and watch instead of being able to play it.
For those out there that have to have the very best possible rendition of Uwe Boll’s work you can now get this flick on Blu-ray. While the film itself may be lacking in many production values the disc is incredible. The video is bright with vivid colors. The DTS HD Master Audio is exceptional. There is even a director’s commentary where Boll takes you through this thought process while making the movie and a behind the scenes featurette.