Monday, October 22, 2007

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Director: Uwe Boll
Story: Jason Rappaport, Dan Stroncak, Doug Taylor
Screenplay: Doug Taylor
Producers: Shawn Williamson, Dan Clarke
Starring: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, John Rhys-Davies, Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman, Matthew Lillard
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 150 min
Country of Origin: USA
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
at Toronto After Dark Festival

     Have you seen an Uwe Boll film? If not, you're... well, I hate to use the term "missing out," but I think tha describes it. Boll's films are notorious for being god awful. But they're so awful that with the right group of people viwing the film, they can actually be really fun. Having said that, House of the Dead is unquestionably the worst movie I have ever seen and hated almost every second of it (and it's a zombie movie! - which even the bad ones, I like). Bloodrayne and Alone in the Dark are equally as unimpressive (or so I've heard as I fear to subject myself to two hours of potential torture).

      With all that in mind, comes In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. A midieval story of a simple man whose life is ruined when an evil sorceror commands a vast army of "trolls" known as "Krug" to ransack the man's village and in the frackas his family is murdered and his wife vanishes. Setting out on a crusade of vengeance, he recruits the help of a couple of friends, determined to take on the entire Krug army and destroy the evil sorcerer without the help of the king and his army.

      This movie almost instantly reminded me of one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Beastmaster. As the film wore on, it became much more like a Lord of the Rings knock-off. I think both comparisons are accurate, yet this film is not as good as either of those pictures.

      The action sequences within Dungeon Siege are impressivey well done. Extended battle sequences with thousands of extras and/or CGI characters all fighting hand to hand (again, think LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring). Though they're all well put together and the fighting and martial arts emplyoed are impressive, there wasn't anything over-the-top or uber-impressive that we haven't seen before. However, there were some unintentional comedic aspects to the battle (like launching catapults of flaming people).

      Somehow, depstite the fact the Boll's films are attrocious, he manages to enlist A-list stars for each of his films. Here, we have Statham as farmer (the common peasant turned martial arts warrior), Ray Liotta as the evil sorcerer, Burt Reynolds as the King, and several other stars in major, supporting roles (Matthew Lillard, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani and more!).

      What makes this astonishing to me, is that these actors sign up for the film after reading the script. Some of the dialogue (in fact, about half of it) is so completely laughable that it is astounding anyone, much less A-list stars, would be willing to utter these lines of dialogue. The audience laughed through half of it and shook their heads throughout the other half. At one point, The King (Burt Reynolds) looks at his top advisor (John Rhys-Davies, aka Sallah from Indiana Jones movies) and says, "What the hell are you talking about?" The audience in the theater concurred.

      To be fair, it is not only the dialogue and script writing that needs work, but incredibly, some of the acting as well. Reaction shots and overly dramatic scenes just don't work as they are intended. Regardless of the script problems, the acting just isn't what we usually come to expect from these stars. It makes me wonder if they are being directed by Dr. Boll to purposefully be campy and corny.

      On top of this, the audio mix is terrible. There is a fairly nice (though generic and commonplace) score througout the picture, but it never. lets. up. I can't recall one sequence in the entire picture without a musical backdrop. And that musical backdrop is either overly loud, or the volume on the dialogue is overly quiet. Either way, between the audience' laughter and the horrible audio mix, I missed several lines of dialogue because it sounded garbled or just muffled by an unneeded musical score.

      Even though it is so easy to tear apart this film on many levels: editing, directing, acting, scriptwriting, etc., it was still a good time at the theater; especially in a festival environment. The fight sequences were fun at the film itself was gorgeous to look at. Lots of sweeping landscape shots and none of the CGI or effects looked low budget of chinsy in anyway. It was actually quite impresive in that way. And although it's poor quality scriptwriting and acting, and totally laughable, this is exactly what also makes it so enjoyable. Am I going to pick up In the Name of the King on DVD when it is released (which will be 45 minutes longer)? Most certainly not. Will I revisit it again at all? No. But I am glad I sat down and enjoyed this one on the festival circuit and I think most audiences will enjoy it as well in the multiplex. If sorcery, martial arts and well choreographed sword play is your thing, you'll certainly be within your element with Uwe Boll's In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER profile for In the Name of the King

Posted by Andrew James in

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  1. I found this film a fun ride and a notch up from Bloodrayne.  I found seeing in with such an rowdy audience made it much for fun than it would have been at home, add to that the Q&A;with Uwe Boll himself!  I’d have to say the experience was one of the highlights of the festival, although there are a few days still to go.

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