Another Boll movement
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
It always feels a little like kicking a puppy when ranking German director Uwe Boll’s work by the standard applied to other films. He’s inarguably the most reviled director working today (although loathed mostly by gamers offended by his adaptations of bottom-shelf video games), and his curious attempts at filmmaking are best viewed on DVD with a group of friends, a load of beer and a healthy appreciation for Mystery Science Theater 3000. His films are built for snark, and he seems happy to meet expectations.
None of his movies (BloodRayne, Alone in the Dark, etc.) seem to make money, but due to some loophole in the German tax system that refunds filmmakers up to 50 percent of their production costs (when approached by a very savvy bookkeeper), Boll continues to make eight-figure direct-to-DVD movies that still manage to get theatrical play. Why they get a theatrical release, I have no clue.
This time around he Boll-derizes the video game Dungeon Siege. If nothing else, he raises public awareness that there actually is a video game called Dungeon Siege. And even more inexplicable than the thought that producers keep giving him money is that his sorry efforts still manage to pull in some fairly decent talent.
This time around, we get Jason Statham as Farmer. Oddly enough, Farmer is a farmer. This simple farmer is forced to take up sword when an evil sorcerer (Ray Liotta) sets loose the dogs of war, kidnaps the farmer’s wife (Claire Forlani) and plots to overthrow the King (Burt Reynolds). Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman and John Rhys-Davies also wander through to collect a paycheck. Sword and sorcery shenanigans ensue. Tediously.
Does it do the video game justice? Damned if I know. I’d never heard of the game until the movie. Does it justify the use of film stock? No. Not even. As usual for Boll, it’s two hours of fractured narrative, silly dialogue apathetically delivered by slumming actors, awkward blocking of action scenes and a sauerkraut-flavored “git-r-done” attitude.
Technically, it’s a tad more proficient than his earlier efforts, but in no way nears being a good film. The intended self-deprecating humor is seriously outweighed by the unintended. Unfortunately, as Boll lumpenly follows some approximation of a learning curve, his films have gone from so-bad-they’re-good to so-bad-they’re-bad. With ITNOTK: ADST, Boll’s biggest cinematic crime is that he has become boring.