So I just finished the season finale for Game of Thrones and wanted something similar, but I picked up In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by accident, and suddenly I’m reconsidering my DVD collection and a few life choices. Admitting I actually own this thing is the first step, but I think if I had to suffer through two plus hours of it, you guys should at least read a write-up so I can complain and try to drop a couple of interesting facts about one of Uwe Boll’s masterpieces (his best movie is Rampage, everything else is subject to ridicule). As with many of this director’s projects, this movie is based off of a video game franchise, Dungeon Siege, which I have only played a small bit of, but I doubt any extra knowledge about the games would have made me like the film more.
From what I have read, the script had very little to do with the games and even had to be rewritten for fear that it was too similar to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are still some similarities, especially with the Krugs, who act as the nameless and uninteresting army for the big bad guy. The story is easy to follow after a really odd opening bed scene. There are several things never explained, a few holes in the plot, but mostly just bad character logic that had me scratching my head. When you capture an enemy, why keep him around so he can cause more havoc later, or you know, at least not try to tie him up or something? It has some bad dialogue and an insanely abrupt ending with no idea of what happens to the characters after their victory, but mainly its crime is being predictable, lacking in the world building, and just managing to be boring during parts that should excite the audience. I would take the time to tell everyone who wrote this “masterpiece” of cinema, but neither has done anything else worth mentioning.
If anyone thinks that this version is too long though, there is supposedly a one hundred fifty-six minute director’s cut, and Boll claims originally an even longer version was going to be available. That scares me. Though it was shot in 2005 the movie was released in several places in 2007 and not in North American theaters until 2008. The movie received some buzz as Boll’s highest budget film ever, and according to the German director, it would remain that way since he didn’t want to do any more higher budget films. The movie was a box office bomb for sure, not able to break the top ten on its opening weekend, and actually making as much if not more money with the initial DVD sales.
I have to imagine most of that budget went to the cast, as I’m not sure why else some of these names would have agreed to be in the film. Originally, the lead role was offered to Kevin Costner, but I’m glad that the character Farmer was portrayed by Jason Statham in his stoic badassness. Yes, they eventually explain that horrible name, and it is a loose reference to the game. One of my favorite actors, John Rhys-Davies, plays Merick, a magician, which I think he might be in real life. His acting is honestly fine, possibly the best in the whole film, and makes me want to rewatch Sliders. Ron Perlman plays Norick, who is a pretty standard Perlman character, while he acts more than he probably needed to for his role. Leelee Sobieski, whom I forgot was a real person, Kristanna Loken as some wood nymph named Elora, and Matthew Lillard, are both simply ridiculous in the movie and almost make it fun at moments for the completely wrong reasons. Ray Liotta assumes the role of Gallian, an angry villain with an evil laugh and absolutely no motivation or reason for wanting to conquer everyone else. Oh, and of course, Burt Reynolds plays the king. Some say that he was excited for his death scene, as he had never done one before, and re-wrote most of the dialogue for that part so it would be special. No way it could have been worse than what was originally written.
The movie looks good. A lot of the scenery and camera work was really nice and certain shots are well-framed and make me wonder if Boll was responsible for this part. Costuming… that’s another story. There are some odd quickly paced scenes that end sharply, jump around, no lingering, but some quick cuts make a couple of parts just seem to be the victim of poor editing. The fight choreography is actually much better than I thought it would be, supposedly because they paid a nice bit for a good team to do it. The King has a team of ninja soldiers for some reason that is never explained, but they sure do look cool fighting and bouncing off trees. Also, how did Farmer learn how to use a boomerang—never mind, getting off track. The music works here as well for the various scenes and they even got the German band Blind Guardian to record the theme, Skalds and Shadows.
I know I found some good parts about this, and it is in no way Boll’s worst movie, but please don’t make me sit through this again. It is too long with such little payoff. With that: how the hell are there two sequels to this thing? Apparently they are completely different in cast and setup, but I’m trying to quiet my curiosity, even if Dolph Lundgren is in it. At the end of the day though In the Name of the King is simply boring and a little bit ridiculous, but it won’t hurt anyone. What Boll film might though is Postal, and I am really afraid someone is going to make me review that one day