I suppose that reviewing an Uwe Boll film is a lot like having a fancy restaurant critic do a write-up on McDonald's new McGristle sandwich -- but I'm not "fancy" by any definition of the word, and I've grown madly in love with Uwe Boll's enthusiastically slipshod filmmaking techniques. So to those who thought miracles were actually possible, I have some disappointing news: Boll's latest, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, is every bit as consistently awful as the director's earlier offerings -- only it's 126 minutes long. And that's just not fair.
Also unfair is the stunningly blatant way in which Mr. Boll tries to rip off the Lord of the Rings trilogy in this chintzy little epic. Every other sequence has a musical cue, a costume, a bit of dialog, or a background character that just fell off the Hobbit truck. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Uwe Boll just spent 126 minutes telling Peter Jackson how thin, talented and gorgeous he is. To be completely fair, I did notice a few components (mainly the action scene editing and a few moments of strangely effective cinematography) that manage to improve upon films like Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead and BloodRayne -- but really, you could probably improve upon those three movies using only a cell phone camera and a powerful flashlight.
For a flick that runs two hours, the plot is distressingly skimpy: Villains are ransacking the countryside, so a farmer called Farmer takes up arms, grabs a few sidekicks, and heads out to destroy the evil and perpetually cackling Boss Villain. That's it, really. But we're not going to see an Uwe Boll video game adaptation for the plot, are we? No. We're usually watching his flicks for the sheer unintentional hilarity of it all, but King is even better because it's an ensemble piece! We've got...
The heroic farmer called Farmer, as played by the very bored-looking Jason Statham. (More bored than usual, I mean.)
An oddly plastic-looking Burt Reynolds as the heroic King Konreid. (The powder-white wig really brings out the goofiness of his jet-black, massive eyebrows.)
A horrifically frantic Matthew Lillard as a devious Duke called Fallow. (Prize: Best awful acting in a movie filled with awful acting.)
An aimless (yet still beautiful) Claire Forlani as Solana, Farmer's damsel in humorous distress. (Someone please rescue this actress from the B-list already.)
A goofy-wigged Ron Perlman as wise-crackin' sidekick Norrick. (Not even Ron Perlman can make this movie fun for more than three seconds in a row!)
The typically bombastic John Rhys-Davies as King Konreid's wisdom-spouting chief magic-man Merick. (John, c'mon. You must still have a big chunk of Rings money somewhere.)
The completely vacant Leelee Sobieski as Muriella, Merick's fight-hungry daughter, who mistakenly gives some tail to the Boss Villain. (Yes, she still looks like a smaller version of Helen Hunt.)
The lovely-yet-also-hilarious Kristanna Loken as some sort of lesbian tree-woman called Elora. (Hey, she hangs out with three other forest chicks and throws vines at men!)
And (saving the best for last) a completely unhinged Ray Liotta as a very confused evil wizard known as Gallian. (I'd never in my life say a bad word about Ray Liotta, but ... hoo boy. I hope he got a nice check for his six days of work on this thing, because he vamps it up like nobody's business.)
If you need to know much more about In the Name of the King than what I just described to you, my simple advice is this: Never see this movie. Ever. But if you found yourself chuckling quietly as I described the flimsy plot, the obvious inspirations, and the awesomely amusing cast, then I bet you're going to have a (slightly) good time with the flick. (In the comfort of your own home, that is, where you can keep on drinking beer.) And what the hell are ninjas doing in this movie, anyway?
Like all of Boll's films, the thing is a film critic's worst nightmare: Between the goofy FX assaulting your eyeballs, the powerfully ripe stench of the clumsy dialog, and the aggressively dreary sound design, you won't know which of your five senses to extinguish first. Even the intended audience for a action/adventure cheese-fest like this (I'm guessing it'd be "aimless 14-year-old boys") will find themselves earning a quick education on the fine art of bad filmmaking. And then after those 14 minutes are over, they'll just get bored.
From the flat CG work to the seamed matte paintings to the mud-covered "krugs" who are forever attacking our heroes, the flick feels like something slapped together by a bunch of Tolkien-addicted high school kids whose dads happen to know some pretty famous actors. If the thing sped by and delivered its dorky payload in about 88 minutes, I could probably recommend it to fans of bad cinema -- or the very, very stoned. But at 126 minutes, the thing becomes a chore of epic proportions -- which kinda makes it even more amusing. And get this: The DVD version will be a whole lot longer!
Oh, Uwe. January would be so boring without you.