In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Name-of-the-king-poster“Sacrilage! This is madness, Gallian! You go too far!”

The Scoop: 2007 PG-13, directed by Uwe Boll and starring Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, and Burt Reynolds

Tagline: Rise and fight

Summary Capsule: It’s Lord of the Rings, done Uwe style!

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Justin’s Rating: My sins are vast… but do I deserve more Uwe?

Justin’s Review: In the first ten minutes we’re informed that oddly-named bad guys are doing bad things, and there’s a farmer named Farmer (Jason Strathome) who has such a pristine and idyllic life that you just know it has to be brutally shattered soon thereafter. What we didn’t expect was for this Hobbiton-lite existence to be snuffed out by, of all people, Ray Liotta (as a bad guy, Liotta stacks up somewhere between Barney the Dinosaur and Barney Fife) and Matthew Lillard (who’s between a mealworm and a maggot).

Knowing that his best recourse to extend his power and domination is to thoroughly piss off the good guys by killing all they hold dear and yet leaving the muscular heroes alive, Liotta does just that by sending a second-rate costume troupe through a town with orders to terminate merchant stalls with extreme prejudice. Farmer’s kid is butchered (he’s the whiny type, so don’t expect to tear up over that development), and his wife (aka “Wife”) goes missing, fueling the Mel Gibsonish rage he needs to go on an one-man crusade against bullies Ray and Matt. Off through the wilds they go, because taking the highway to Castle Greyskull would be just too easy.

In the middle of all this is a lot of posh nonsense concerning the royal court. We have King Burt Reynolds, who is obviously screaming in his head through this whole endeavour. He rules a kingdom of about six guys, including Chief Guard Dude, the Magus (John Rhys-Davies), and the Magus’ daughter Magic Chick (Leelee Sobieski). There’s a lot of court intrigue – which means “collecting an easy paycheck” – as they try to figure out the highly obvious mystery bad guy behind it all. Hint to the king: Magic Chick is shacking up with him!

Eventually, the three sides converge in a long, drawn-out battle on what looks like the forest moon of endor: Ray and his Bad Guy Brigade, Burt and his Patriotic Platoon, and Farmer and his Angry, Furrowed Brow. This massive battle arrives far too soon for anyone in the audience to even care about the safety and fate of the kingdom – a kingdom which is mentioned by name only once – and then just drags on until you really don’t care. When the ninjas and the catapulting flaming orcs arrive, it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. It’s visual white noise with stabbing.

The odd thing here is that Uwe Boll made a film that looks, on the surface, fairly good. The sets are well-done, the CGI adequate, and the cohesion is there to pull you through the story without a lot of “who’s that guy and why’s he doing that to that other guy?” This is perhaps because the story is so utterly simplistic, and perhaps because this is a 2000’s rehash of every 1980’s sword-and-sorcery epic (you may want to note how many of those 80’s fantasy epics were successful and rewatchable, because Uwe certainly did not) which also steals quite liberally from Lord of the Rings.

Although it certainly contains elements of the ridiculous and eccentric, Uwe’s biggest sin in this affair is making the movie about eight hours long. Seriously, it’s a Bataan Death March from start to finish, where none of the events are worth your consideration, even the random Tree Ninjas that magically appear in the middle of the ten battle scenes filmed. Heck, even the title has the word count of a graduate thesis, caused in no small part by the fact that this film lacks “dungeons” yet needed to work in the title of the video game it’s oh-so-loosely affiliated with. LOTR this is not; waste of time this is.

This picture makes you feel dirty all over, doesn't it?

This picture makes you feel dirty all over, doesn’t it?

Intermission!

    • In the Name of the King grossed $2.98 million in its U.S. opening, failing to crack that week’s top ten. As of February 13, 2008, it has grossed $10.3 million worldwide.
    • Ray Liotta is a very gross kisser
    • Gah, this is horrible pillow talk
    • Most farmers know how to properly use a boomerang
    • Wait, the farmer’s name is Farmer? For real?
    • Mathew Lillard – that is not a good sign.
    • That’s a headache-inducing flashback, Mr. Soldier. Thank you for sharing it.
    • The king hears about “peasants fighting with swords” and his next logical thought is “sorcery”? Guh?
    • Methinks Grandma likes joking about cooking her grandson alive a little too much
    • Did Matthew Lillard just use the word “behoove” in a sentence?
    • Horses like riding up to the tops of grass huts
    • “Let’s go, man, c’mon!” Great renaissance faire speak.
    • Remote-controlling your orc armies is definitely not a sign of cowardace on your behalf
    • That’s an EXTREMELY shallow grave for your kid. Wolves’ll be at him before sunset, I reckon.
    • I don’t know if Burt Reynolds has ever looked more bored or embarrassed
    • So they ditch their horses after a mere half day of travel. Good thinking.
    • Saved from a nasty fall by the miracle of editing!
    • It’s kinda gratifying to see Lillard crawling around
    • Hot tree girls. This is my kinda forest!
    • Confusing cuts going back-and-forth between two scenes and two conversations
    • Quick drinking game: take a shot of your favorite beverage anytime you hear the word “king”. It’s like literary crack for this film.
    • That is AWESOME fake crying
    • Who lights all the candles in these castles?
    • A great put-down for farmers is to call them “dirt-lovers”
    • Tree Ninjas! Because… why not?
    • It looks like they’re fighting on Endor
    • Flaming orcs in catapults. Well, that’s new.
    • Can I say, as a side note, that it feels like a bit of a betrayal to witness Rhys-Davies effectively star in a parody of the very fantasy trilogy that capped his career in triumph? Thanks.
    • “Comportment”?
    • Kings are expected to know about farming techniques? Since when?
    • Elf pacifists can be convinced to fight rather easily
    • Wizards function as cheap pregnancy tests
    • When you’re dying, it’s a great time to start babbling about cultivating crops
    • Lord of the Rings vs. In the Name of the King

Rings: Opening scenes in a peaceful farming community
King: Opening scenes in a farming community whose worst nightmare is a flock of crows

Hero is a reluctant stud who’s secretly the king
Hero is a reluctant married stud who doesn’t know he’s next in line for the throne

Orcs
Krugs (discount Orcs)

Massive underground Orc army factory
Massive underground Krug army factory

Sweeping National Geographic shots through the countryside
And mountains too! Don’t forget about mountains!

A king who eventually falls in battle, all heroic-like
A king who eventually falls in battle, because of Matthew Lillard

Legolas, bow-guy
Ron Pearlman, bow-guy

A hawt, strong woman who rides into battle against her father’s wishes
A hawt, strong Magic Chick who puts on armor and then falls over for the next hour. Armor is heavy, migosh!

Groovy Quotes

Kid: I’m glad Farmer has a family now. I’m glad that family is us.

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