Fox // 2011 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // December 8th, 2011
Director Uwe Boll returns to the fantasy realm, and this time Dolph Lundgren is backing him up.
Ah, Dr. Boll (Bloodrayne: The Third Reich) it's good to have you back from your brief but painful dalliance "serious film making." Now you're doing what you do best: attempting to make a movie out of a dormant video game franchise.
Granger (Dolph Lundgren, The Expendables) is a retired special forces commando. These days he teaches self defense to children while kicking his sparring partners in the nuts. Clearly a role model. One afternoon when he gets home, he is attacked by a group of enraged ninja-like warriors' typical Thursday. Unfortunately for these goons, they didn't know they were dealing with Dolph. With his powerful punches and the help of a mysterious woman, he takes them out. But not before he is sucked into a wormhole to another world. Ah those mischievous wormholes.
Granger arrives in a fantastic realm, and is brought before the good King Raven (Lochlyn Munro, Space Buddies). You see, according to an prophesy, because you can't have a fantasy film without one, Granger is the fabled outlander who will save the kingdom from the threat of the Dark Ones. Granger doesn't believe in that mumbo jumbo, but he doesn't have much choice. He goes on the quest to save the kingdom with the pretty medicine expert he dubs Doc (Natassia Malthe, Knights of Bloodsteel) at his side. Will Granger be brave enough to survive onslaughts of fearsome warriors, fire breathing dragons and some of the ripest dialogue I've heard all year?
My last experience with Uwe Boll was his deadly serious film Attack on Darfur. It was not a pleasant experience, but I noted that Boll had improved quite a bit compared to some of his earlier attempts. In the Name of the King: Two Worlds continues that trend. What we've got here is a typical run of the mill fantasy film done on a budget. It shoots to entertain and it does -- even if some of the fun isn't always intentional.
First of,f the story is solid. There's a bit of humor mined from the whole fish out of water angle. Granger can't believe all the typical fantasy jargon he's fed and comments on the fact. Meanwhile the people of the kingdom are confused by his strange speech and the way he treats others. These interactions keep things from getting too grim and dower. Not to say that all the jokes and one liners work, but at least the movie's trying.
I also like the plot development that takes place about halfway through the film. I don't want to give it away, but it does put an interesting spin on the proceedings and mutates the conflict at the heart of the story. Sure you can see plenty of hints for this event, but Boll successfully executes it.
The cast seems to be having a good time. Dolph lumbers about, cracks wise and punches enough people to keep his fans happy. Munro is having fun as the king, hamming it up and delivering his lines with relish. He manages to put...a pause in each sentence he says. It doesn't matter...how short, or how long...it is. Made me...smile. I also liked Heather Doerksen in her small role as the resistance leader.
Filmed on location in Canada, you get some beautiful cinematography. The forest and mountains create an excellent fantasy landscape and Boll presents them well. Composer Jessica de Rooij is back again with Boll creating an exciting and lush fantasy score that really adds to the film. Her work was one of the best things about Attack on Darfur, and it's very good here too.
Finally, the movie is paced just right, clocking in at 96 minutes. The script and direction work hand in hand to keep everything moving forward. There were a few slow spots, but they were short and you get back to an action scene or some silly dialogue soon enough.
Fox gives In the Name of the King: Two Worlds a solid release. The picture was clear and the blacks were solid. The audio tracks were well balanced and dialogue was clear (with a slight exception noted below). For extras you get two commentary tracks: one with Boll and one with writer Michael Nachoff. There are also a behind the scenes featurette and a short interview with Nachoff.
Sadly not everything works here. While Dolph isn't bad, he's not terribly convincing in his action scenes. Boll uses a lot of shaky-cam during these scenes and while part of that is his style, I think part of it is to make Dolph appear to move faster than he actually did. Dolph's accent and off the cuff delivery makes some of his lines hard to understand. And what is with his kicky scarf?
For some reason there are moments where Dolph provides voice over, most of it unnecessary. He does his best with it, but the movie could have been fine without it.
Some of the acting isn't too impressive, with flat deliveries here and there as well as some folks who just sound confused with the whole thing. Some of the problem is the dialogue which flip flops between sensible and ludicrous. It's always entertaining, but some of the cast handles it better than others.
My biggest issue is the editing. Once again, scenes are edited with multiple takes, each lasting little more than 20 seconds. During an action scene this works fine, but scenes where suspense is required, these edits end up breaking the whole sequence down. It's worse when there's a dialogue scene and the camera is constantly cutting. Uwe, if you want to keep the camera moving there's this thing called panning, give it a try!
Here's the thing, as a low budget fantasy film, this is a good time. It knows what it wants to be and hits the mark. But for maximum enjoyment get your riffing buddies over and let the comments fly. There's plenty of unintended goofiness on display and it's tailor made for your very own Mystery Science Theater 3000 session.
That said, In the Name of the King: Two Worlds is Uwe's best film yet.
I had some fun with this one. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R