Fox // 2008 // 127 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Ben Saylor (Retired) // April 15th, 2008
Rise and Fight
Director Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne) has seemingly never met a video/computer game that he couldn't turn into a bad movie, a pattern he continues with In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, an insufferably long (nearly two full hours!) and awful attempt at a Lord of the Rings knockoff.
It is a dark time in the kingdom of Ehb. The villainous magus Gallian (Ray Liotta, Slow Burn) has joined forces with Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard, Wing Commander) to begin an insurrection against the good ruler of Ehb, King Konreid (Burt Reynolds, Paternity).
Meanwhile, a peaceful farmer (Jason Statham, The Transporter) called, oh, let's go with Farmer ('cause that's his name in the movie) is spurred to join the fight for the kingdom when his young son is killed and his wife, Solana (Claire Forlani, Boys and Girls), is kidnapped by the evil Krug, who serve as foot soldiers for Gallian. But in the course of his quest to find his wife, Farmer learns that he is the key to the salvation of Ehb.
I think most people would agree that $60,000,000 is a lot of money. It's certainly a lot of money to me. A lot can be done with $60,000,000: People can be fed, homes can be built, scientific endeavors can be funded. The money could go towards cancer research or for disaster relief.
It can also be used to make a bad movie, like it was with In the Name of the King. Looking at the movie, it's kind of hard to tell where the money was spent. On the talent (a term I use rather loosely here), perhaps? How much does it cost to secure the services of Burt Reynolds these days, or Leelee Sobieski? Or maybe it went toward the special effects. After all, a floating sword fight (the swords are suspended in mid-air, not the people wielding them) can't come cheap.
The one thing the money clearly wasn't spent on was anything that would have made In the Name of the King a good movie. Beyond unintentional humor (a Boll staple), there's absolutely nothing to recommend this flick. Even the unintentional humor is hardly worth it, because the movie itself is such a slog to get through.
Although Boll has almost two hours with which to tell his story, In the Name of the King is still a poorly edited and choppy mess. Early on, there is a scene featuring pillow talk between Gallian and Muriella (Leelee Sobieski, The Glass House), although we are given absolutely no information as to who Muriella is for quite a while. The Gallian-Fallow conspiracy is also clumsily rendered; it feels like all the important dialogue between the two characters is happening between scenes. What the viewer is then left with is Liotta and Lillard locked in a titanic duel as to who can out-overact whom. (I think Lillard's facial contortions just edge out Liotta's incessant bellowing.) Near the end of the film, the good magus Merick (John Rhys-Davies, who not only embarrasses himself by being here, but also gives added credence to unfavorable comparisons between this movie and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) refers to a past time when Gallian was also good. This is just one example of backstory that is hinted at but never explained. I guess I shouldn't complain; endless scenes of exposition would have only made In the Name of the King longer.
It's kind of amazing (but mostly just sad) just how many well-known actors were drawn to this movie (like flies to you-know-what). There's Liotta, who arguably hasn't made a decent film since 2002's Narc. As Mrs. Farmer, Claire Forlani looks bored most of the time. Reynolds, by appearing in this movie, has effectively annihilated any last shred of respectability he may have had from appearing in Boogie Nights. Kristanna Loken (Painkiller Jane), who has the dubious distinction of appearing in two Boll films (the other being BloodRayne), is on hand as a vine-swinging warrior. Statham, surprisingly, comes out relatively unscathed, as he is so low-key that, despite the absurdity of his character (despite being a simple farmer, he is handy with a boomerang and also appears to be proficient in some kind of martial art), his over-acting supporting cast manages to draw attention away from him.
As for the rest of the movie, it's as unremarkable as they come. The special effects are silly (especially those floating swords), the cinematography is bland, and all the action scenes are ineptly staged. The horrible script offers up some truly ridiculous dialogue, like this exchange between Muriella and Gallian, after the latter has turned up uninvited in the former's boudoir:
Muriella: Must you always appear suddenly from nowhere?
Gallian: I don't. I appear so suddenly from somewhere.
But it's not all fun and games with the dialogue; there are serious moments too, like when Farmer's brother-in-law Bastian (Will Sanderson of BloodRayne) eulogizes a fallen comrade: "What you always wanted -- a courageous death. Ah, you were a brave old guy." Or when Farmer tells Solana, after rescuing her from Gallian, "There's something I've always wanted to tell you. I love you."
In the Name of the King gets more than it deserves for its DVD release in the sound and video departments. I don't know if this is how it will look and sound when it hits stores (I had a review-only copy with that little Fox watermark popping up now and again), however. The extras are truly underwhelming. First, there is a behind-the-scenes featurette that runs about 10 minutes. This shows the making of several scenes, but it's played with no interviews or narration; it's pretty much footage of scenes being shot. The audio quality varies wildly throughout, and most of the time it's hard to make out what the cast and crew are saying. Up next are about nine-and-a-half minutes of deleted and extended scenes. All I can say about this section is that I wish it was longer, because then the movie itself would have been shorter. Finally, there is a theatrical trailer, as well as previews for Possession (some dumb-looking horror flick with Sarah Michelle Gellar, not the Neil LaBute movie), Resurrecting the Champ, and Jumper. Previews for Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem play before the DVD's menu. Overall, the best thing that can be said about these special features is that there isn't a commentary track, which was good for me, because it meant I didn't have to sit through the movie twice.
I probably took more time to think out and write this review than Boll and his team did to conceive and write In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. If you absolutely feel compelled to watch this, do so with friends, so that you can make fun of it together. Or if you watch it alone (which I think qualifies as self-destructive behavior), break it up a little; I watched it over two sittings, spaced several days apart. Or better yet, just don't see it.
Take a wild guess.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ben Saylor; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Behind-the-scenes featurette
* Deleted and extended scenes
* Official Site