Should I Watch..? 'In the Name of the King'
What's the big deal?
In The Name Of The King (also knows as In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale) is an epic action fantasy film released in 2007 and is very loosely based on the video game Dungeon Siege. Directed by notorious German director Uwe Boll, the film follows the story of a mysterious farmer seeking to rescue his kidnapped wife and avenge his son's murder as the land is plunged into war. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davis, Ron Perlman, Matthew Lillard, Ray Liotta, Claire Forlani and the late Burt Reynolds. Budgeted at an estimated $60 million (making it Boll's most expensive production to date), the film was a box office disaster with global earnings of around $13.1 million. Like nearly all of Boll's films, the film was savaged by critics upon release - a response that prompted Boll to turn down all other big-budget projects going forward.
What's it about?
At the end of a war in the kingdom of Ehb, a small boy was found wandering around a battlefield with no memory of who he is. Adopted by the rancher Norick from the nearby town of Stonebridge, the child grows up to be named Farmer and he marries Solana with whom he has a son. Sadly, war breaks out once again after the rebellious mage Gallian joins forces with the animalistic Krug and they launch an attack on Stonebridge which results in the death of Farmer's son and the kidnapping of his wife.
Despite the pleas of King Conreid that his personal mage Merick will investigate what is going on, Farmer convinces the citizens of Stonebridge to rise up and launch a rescue mission. But Farmer could already be too late - Duke Fallow (the king's nephew) and Merick's daughter Muriella have already granted access to the King's castle to Gallian. What horrors will the wicked wizard unveil in his quest for the throne and what chance to Farmer and his ragged civilian soldiers hope to achieve?
Release Date (UK DVD)
23rd July, 2008
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Razzie Award Nomination
Worst Picture, Worsr Supporting Actress (Sobieski), Worst Supporting Actor (Reynolds), Worst Screenplay
What's to like?
The name of Uwe Boll should rightly strike fear into the hearts and minds of moviegoers everywhere but for a precious few who can appreciate bad movies, this is the crummy version of Lord Of The Rings you've been waiting for. With dialogue written in crayon and as uninspired as they come, the movie makes so many ham-fisted decisions that it's hard to know where to start. Statham, undoubtedly more comfortable in action movies, displays all the emotional range of a doorpost but at least it makes a change to see him using swords and axes instead of his fists and feet of doom. And the sight of Reynolds as some noble king is frankly absurd.
The only aspect of the production I can genuinely praise is the costumes which might still look like they were knocked up in a workshop off-set but they are the only thing that don't jar on screen. Everything else, from the horribly clichéd setting and story to the abundance of poor acting from the cast, stinks to high hell. Given the quality of the cast, you'd expect at least one of them to give the role a smidge of attention. Lillard performs as though he's either drunk or stoned, Forlani's crying scene is hilarious and every cast member gives the camera a knowing wink - they know that we know they're only in it for the money. Looking at the film, I have no idea where $60 million went other than the bank accounts of the cast who really should know better.
- Kevin Smith and Juliette Lewis visited the set of this film after visiting from the set of Catch And Release, which was shooting next door. Reynolds noticed that they stole two box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
- The production of the film's CG was problematic and disrupted after Boll insisted on changing the company responsible for them several times after discovering that they were being out-sourced to lower-quality providers for less money.
- Boll claimed that there is a longer version of the film running at 156 minutes which features more character development and story. Initially promising it would appear on the DVD release of the film, it remains unseen. Boll has also suggested that there is a three-hour version but again, nobody has ever seen it.
What's not to like?
Boll is the sort of director that follows the Ed Wood style of shooting - shoot the scene and make sure nothing wanders onto the set that shouldn't. He isn't concerned with performances, assuming the lines are delivered cleanly, or creating the suspension of belief that's vital for any fantasy film. It can be best described as 'perfunctory'. In The Name Of The King deserves a director of actual skill because fantasy films take a lot of attention to detail - Boll might think he's Peter Jackson but he's more like Paris Hilton.
I'm not exaggerating when I say the cast is universally poor. Probably my favourite is Liotta who over-acts so much as the evil wizard, he pushes Jeremy Irons in the equally squallid Dungeons & Dragons. It helps to undermine the movie from within - I imagine Boll treating the material seriously but the cast, knowing that the project is doomed to fail, simply phone their performances in. So poisonous is Boll's reputation that he has since apparently retired from film-making to become a restaurateur instead - so he'll be cooking turkeys instead of making them. For those of you who understand, this film will be exactly what you expect from a Boll fantasy epic - cheesy dialogue, hopeless direction, laughable performances and a budget being thrown down the toilet. If you've never seen a Boll film before (and well done for maintaining that enviable track record), watching this tosh will make you question why any studio would give him the reins to any film project.
Should I watch it?
Of course not! Unless you enjoy utterly hopeless films shamelessly ripping up successful blockbusters, In The Name Of The King is the cinematic equivalent of an am-dram version of Willow, Conan The Barbarian and The Beastmaster rolled into one. The only thing to enjoy about this film is the fact that it marked the beginning of the end of Boll's inept career.
Great For: home commentaries, errr… nope, nothing
Not So Great For: men, women, children, aliens, animals, plants, anything with eyes or ears
What else should I watch?
Don't believe me about Uwe Boll's appalling record as a director? Let's look at his more infamous movies like Alone In The Dark (another videogame adaptation widely called one of the worst movies of the 2000's), the Razzie award-winning Postal and yet another videogame adaptation, the woeful House Of The Dead. Having not directed a film since 2016's Rampage: President Down (which is basically a rip-off of films like Olympus Has Fallen), he's hoping he's had enough of his films being slated. I have.
Traditional fantasy films seem to have tailed off after the incredible success of Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Today, we have the likes of the Harry Potter series or Twilight which introduce fantasy elements like wizards and vampires into a more contemporary setting. Alternatively, you could argue that much of Marvel's output falls into the fantasy genre - it might not be the swords and sorcery that fans are used to but Thor has a spectacular visual style while Black Panther is a ground-breaking action adventure that stands out from many of its Marvel stablemates.
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© 2018 Benjamin Cox