Uwe Boll makes bad movies based on videogames – each more ambitious and each a more spectacular failure. Until now. In the Name of the King is Boll’s most ambitious film to date, but it is merely a failure – not a spectacular one.
When the Krug [think bargain-basement orcs] begin acting like real soldiers [armor, human weapons, organization], things get tough for the inhabitants of the kingdom of Ehb, ruled by King Konreid [Burt Reynolds]. A scouting party is wiped out; a village is destroyed and most its people killed or taken prisoner despite the best efforts of Farmer [Jason Statham], his mentor and father figure Norick [Ron Perlman] and his brother-in-law, Bastien [Will Sanderson, a cross-eyed Josh Holloway wannabe]. In the battle, Farmer’s wife, Solana [Claire Forlani] is taken away and his son, Zeph [Colin Ford] killed by the Krug leader – who is possessed and controlled by the evil/mad magus, Gallian [Ray Liotta].
Gallian has taught Muriella [Leelee Sobieski] to access her power [she’s the daughter of the king’s magus, Merick, played by John Rhys-Davies] and gleans information from her that allows him to poison the king to facilitate the king’s nephew’s rise to the throne. The nephew, Duke Fallow [Matthew Lillard], is the skuzziest kind of weasel – and stupid enough to believe that he and Gallian are actually partners.
There are forest-dwelling women warriors who may be elvish – they complain about humans constantly warring one with another – and wish to have no part of that nonsense – though, when it appears that their forest will be invaded by the Krug, decide valor is the better part of valor and pitch in. And we’re still not nearly through the plotting.
Uwe Boll has become regarded as Ed Wood with CG and relatively stable sets, but he always manages to put together interesting casts and his movies always make money. In almost every case, each of the actors seems to be in a different movie. Here, Statham is in an action movie; Reynolds is a heavily ironic good ole boy; Lillard is a grotesque Malkovitch parody; Rhys-Davies gives the steadfast, “real” performance, and Liotta chews the scenery so thoroughly that he makes Treat Williams’ gloriously over-the-top performance in The Phantom seem positively restrained.
The key action scene is under lit and that covers a multitude of choreographical sins. If we can’t tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys [which, given the ugliness of Krug, happens too often to be a Good Thing], we can at least wallow in mayhem and chaos. I’d like to think that better editing might have made things easier to follow, but I can’t be sure.
Then there’s the writing [three people conceived the story, but only one of them would take credit for the script]. I’m not sure if the writing is actually bad, or if it’s a transcription of a real game of Dungeon Siege. Plot twists and turns seem to have no real coherence – as though someone threw two twenty-sided die and came up double-zero more times than might seem credible.
In the end, though, Boll achieves a movie that is gloriously wacky fun – which is probably not the intended result, but we take what we can get. For a change, I went to see a bad movie and got one. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is bad enough to be fun – perhaps Boll should now quit, while he’s ahead.
Final Grade: D