- Movie: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
- Directors: Uwe Boll
- Starring: Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman, John Rhys-Davies, Kristanna Loken, Matthew Lillard, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds
- Rotten Tomatoes rating: 4%
A Little Context
I know it might seem a little unfair going after an Uwe Boll film, but at the same time, he is so synonymous with bad movies that I couldn’t just not pick one at some point. For those who may not know, Uwe Boll is a director/writer/producer of many bad movies including BloodRayne, Alone in the Dark, and Postal. While his entire filmography isn’t all video game adaptations, one of his commonly implemented strategies is buying the film rights to video games no one really cares about, then spending $10-25 million on the movie. The sad part is that while not all of his movies are profitable, his strategy is successful enough that he is able to keep doing it. Enter In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.
As you probably guessed from “a Dungeon Siege tale” this movie is based on the Dungeon Siege video game series, though the ties are few–both the movie and the game take place in the Kingdom of Ehb, both stories open with a humble farmer, and they both contain dungeons at some point. Regardless, this was to be Uwe Boll’s first real epic. Instead of his usual budget range, the budget here was $60 million and it would be the beginning of an epic trilogy you could put beside The Lord of the Rings. As you can imagine, that didn’t quite work out.
There are several reasons why In the Name of the King did not live up to expectations, and certainly did not end up on par with The Lord of the Rings. Let’s start with the story. If you can get to the end of this movie and figure out exactly what is going on, you are a much smarter person than I am. There appears to be some kind of political strife here a la Game of Thrones. The only problem is that the motivations don’t totally make sense. Jason Statham’s character is a farmer who they just named Farmer. He has a wife and son and, as you probably guessed, has inexplicable hidden fighting skills which includes being awesome with a boomerang. Ray Liotta is an evil wizard who wants to take over the kingdom from King Burt Reynolds. Liotta’s method is to, for some reason, use both orcs and poison to both overtly and secretly gain control. Spoiler alert for the first 20 minutes, one of the orc raiding parties under the direct control of Ray Liotta, kills Farmer’s son. Coincidentally giving motivation to the one person capable of defeating Liotta.
Weirdly enough, there is something significant about Farmer, and therefore his son, but Liotta would not have known about it at the time when he signaled out Farmer’s son. It’s like the significance of the character is known to the writer, but the writer then forgot to add that motivation to the villain character. In the movie Farmer’s son is targeted seemingly at random… just because. I guess.
Another way you can see the failure of the story is during the big battle scene, oddly enough. In The Lord of the Rings you get several big battles and despite their length they all manage to be gripping, particularly in The Two Towers. Not only do you get a lot of action, but you also care about those involved. Things seem desperate. The battles in In the Name of the King, despite being long and full of action, are also pretty boring. One big battle scene in particular, one that is most of the way through the movie, just highlights that up to this point I hadn’t really started to care about anyone. It feels like someone just threw a bunch of action figures together. It’s somehow the dullest, longest battle scene I’ve ever seen.
The casting of this movie is also baffling (but not if you’re familiar with Uwe Boll). It’s clear that there is a lot of “who can we get?” mentality going on here, but you’d think someone would have said “hey, maybe we should just shoot for someone who actually works in the part?” Sorry Burt, I know you can act (Boogie Nights), but you don’t belong in a fantasy film. Same with Ray Liotta, he’s not bad but never seems not out-of-place. Which makes his performance distracting. John Rhys-Davies is really the only person who looks and sounds like they belong in this movie. But seriously, John, you were Gimli, what are you doing here? Everyone else is basically exactly what you’d expect although I want to commend Matthew Lillard for really going all out in his role.
Aside from the all-over-the-place performances, it’s clear that there is no one really paying any attention to consistency. Accents differ from person to person. Some people have weirdly tidy hair. Jason Statham appears to have similar training as The Transporter. All of this contributes to this weird something-is-out-place feeling that you get watching this. You can tell some money was put into the movie, but things sometimes still seem cheap or amateur.
But Can I Drink To It?
Yes. This movie goes on for too long, so prepare to go in excited but you’ll start to find yourself checking the time.
Rules (to get you hammered)
1. Jason Statham gets a kill – DRINK!
2. Whenever something/anything seems weirdly modern for a medieval fantasy film – DRINK for 3 seconds!
3. Whenever you’re confused by how much time or distance has passed – DRINK for 5 seconds!
4. “What the hell does that mean?” – finish your DRINK!
I watched this movie for free on Netflix. You can also find it on Amazon here: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale for $11 on blu ray. No trilogy box set unfortunately.
Post by: Tyler P.
Tyler Phillippi is a former improviser and musician. Now, he mainly focuses on getting through his Netflix queue. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org