Fox // 2007 // 162 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 2nd, 2009
"Hey look it's a dungeon! Let's siege it!"
The infamous Uwe Boll coughs up his latest video game inspired feature film, and this one eschews guns and zombies and monsters and boobs for a tidy little Lord of the Rings knock-off.
In a mystical land of fantasy and haystacks there lives a simple man named Farmer (Jason Statham, Death Race), who's got a cute son and a hot wife (Claire Forlani). He doesn't want any trouble, but when an evil sorcerer (Ray Liotta) unleashes his horde of Orcs, er, Krugs, he's forced into ditching his pitchfork and kicking major ass.
When his wife is snatched by the evildoers, Farmer embarks on a violent adventure to retrieve them, and along the way finds himself in the middle of a political blood feud, fighting side by side with female trapeze artists that live in trees, trading flat one-liners with Ron Perlman and, ultimately, squaring off with a pile of magic books.
This director's cut is 162 minutes long. And the story is as mediocre as my smarmy synopsis makes it out to be. Combine those two facts and you're looking at home video experience that will likely set multiple nap-inducing records. In the Name of the King is tedious and boring, featuring flat dialogue delivered by catatonic actors -- but it's not the vile tripe that Boll-haters are quick to label any of his movies. After all the pomp and circumstance of the wizardry and sword fighting and uplifting speeches to a ragtag group of human freedom fighters, in the end, the film is not the affront to Our Savior that it could have been. Nope, just a mediocre fantasy movie starring a host of B-level celebrities.
Statham is the centerpiece here and it's all about the punching and kicking for him. As far as the role, it's about as one-dimensional as it gets -- pissed-off husband goes after his wife and karate chops a slew of rubber-suited extras along the way. Plus he growls a lot like he does in every movie. Essentially, Boll dropped the Transporter into Middle Earth and let him run wild. The rest of the cast refrain from embarrassing themselves and basically just look disinterested. One notable exception is Ray Liotta who chews through his lines like a Weedwacker and sports a blow-dried coiffure that laughs in the face of anachronism.
What really surprised me here is Boll's direction. Now, we're not talking gold statuette caliber of course, but the guy knows how to stage a faux-epic, utilizing large-scale sweeping shots and filming the action in a straightforward, easy-to-follow way that would have greatly benefited from better fight choreography. Gone is the migraine-generating hyper-editing, though House of the Dead fans will be sad to learn that there is no incorporation of actual Dungeon Siege footage. Sadly the exploitation that made Bloodrayne sort of fun has been excised to preserve a PG-13 rating. Some decapitated Krug heads would have been welcome.
The Blu-ray is light in the loafers when it comes to extra content, but the technical presentation is decent. The HD upgrade (2.35:1) is noticeable and the scope of the film -- at least visually -- lends itself well to the enhanced resolution. This is a bright film that takes place in the daylight (surprising, considering how opaque Boll's other films tend to be) and the picture clarity pushes the colors well. There are some moments, particularly in the busier action elements, when the detailing suffers, but overall, Fox has given lovers of the film (heh) a reason to consider the jump to Blu. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master track is raucous and when the action kicks into gear there is enough going on for the mix to cleanly fill the room. Unfortunately, Henning Lohner's bombastic fantasy-lite score is ear-punishing. Extras: a commentary from Uwe Boll (say what you want about the guy's filmmaking talents, but he's a straight shooter), forgettable deleted scenes a pretty awful making-of featurette.
The movie won't poop on your soul, but it's certainly not worth investing nearly three hours in. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fine, though a dearth of meaningful extras hamstring the release.
Guilty. Go see Aragorn for your sentence. Um, I mean Burt Reynolds.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 162 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary
* Deleted Scenes