In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale


I understand that dragging the limited talents of Uwe Boll through the mud these days is somewhat akin to flogging a dead horse with an out-dated whip, but sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves of the kind of resources the delusional auteur had to work with.
Now, I’m not talking of budgets that allowed him to realise almost half-decent CGI in stunning crap-fest Alone In The Dark, or the fact he racked up a baffling amount of vaguely famous gaming licenses to make that included Sega’s House Of The Dead and Far Cry; no, what I’m referring to is the genuinely impressive array of bankable actors he’s worked with over the years.
The sheer amount of jobbing character actors who has signed on the dotted line to make a quick buck is literally unfathomable with both Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff somehow unafraid to show their faces despite wading through more trash than a hungry raccoon. However, Boll’s 2007 adaption of role playing video game Dungeon Siege managed to ensare an eyebrow raising collection of famous faces who must have been cursing their agents the second action was first called on set. But would this infusion of talent actually make an improvement to a director responsible for more flops than erectile dysfunction?

A simple farmer (known only as Farmer – good start, Uwe) lives a happy existence with his wife and son has he harvests turnips in the town of Stonebridge in tbe fantasy kingdom of Ehb. Despite his humble demeanour, Farmer is actually a fierce fighter but refuses to join the army of King Konreid much to the frustration of his friend Norick, who is tired of farming and wants the financial stability of being a soldier. Fate soon decrees that they’ll both fight for free when an army of rubbery, primitive creatures known as The Krug start ravaging the land which results in the death of Farmer’s son and the capture of his wife which stirs him on a quest to rescue her.
The Krug has suddenly gone mental thanks to the actions of a megolananic, mystical Magus known as Gallian who’s manipulation of this primitive race is only the first tip of a multiple pronged attack and his other schemes involve making a deal with the King’s worthless nephew to overthrow the throne and seducing a rival Magus’ daughter in order to level up his powers – and they say men can’t multitask..
As these plot points all rumble on, seemingly without consequence of any of the others, Farmer, Nerick and brother-in-law Bastian head out to rescue his wife and blunder into one completing plot thread after another, they encounter more Krug, a race of tree dwelling women and are eventually separated after being captured by the enemy.
Upon being rescued by the King’s Magus, Farmer finally discovers his mysterious lineage and all the various plots finally collide into something akin to a demolition derby that results in numerous battle scenes that attempt to try and tie everything together. 
Can Farmer save the day, his wife and the entire kingdom of Ehb by literally killing everything in his path?

To say that In The Name Of The King is one of Uwe Boll’s better efforts is like saying the Black Plague was one of history’s better pandemics, but to give the headstrong nutter his due, the fantasy genre seems to be more of a natural fit for him as you expect a fair amount of cheese with your swords and sorcery – but then, when you have a decent budget (the bastard thing cost 60 million dollars!) and a starry cast, you would hope that you’d get a certain amount of quality, even if it happens purely by accident.
So as much as it pains me to admit, In The Name Of The King isn’t awful, awful and is actually quite fun to watch in a point-and-laugh, Mystery Science Theatre 3000 kind of way. The battle scenes are utterly illogical and plays like Lord Of The Rings was Peter Jackson if he was still working with a Bad Taste budget – Krug voluntarily climb into catapults, set themselves on fire and launch themselves through the air for entirely no purpose whatsover and you furrow your brow in confusion as its suddenly revealed that the King has an elite cadre of ninjas for some reason. Through all the dirt and fire strides a turnip growing, boomerang throwing Jason Statham who is obviously convinced he’s in a far better movie than he actually is and admirably giving his all in the fast and furious moments of swordplay. Bizarrely enough, his tried and true methods of punching, snarling and then punching some more actually serves him well in this subtlety-free environment and he fares far better than most other members of the cast. Behold as the movie ends up being a career nadir for virtually everyone involved and everyone goes about it in their own ways. Burt Reynolds powers through acting heavily medicated and looking like a wax dummy of himself that has been sculpted by someone who’s never heard him, while a villainous Ray Liotta seems to have genuinely gotten high from whatever concoction they put in his hair to dye it black as he whizzes around on wires. John Rhys-Davis and Ron Pearlman are always game for this kind of bill-paying, low budget shite, so they’re sorted but Leelee Sobieski and Claire Forlani just look bored as fuck and just want their checks to clear – however, props have to be given to Matthew Lillard who seems to know exactly what kind of film he’s in and acts accordingly with a performance so devoid of restraint he makes his turn as Shaggy in Scooby-Doo look as measured as Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
As Boll is content to let all the storylines drunkenly stagger into one another without a single instance of nuance, it’s obvious that his interest is mainly focused in ripping off as much of Lord Of The Rings as he can while still trying to save a buck or two. A climactic sequence lashed in rain and fire is obviously supposed to invoke memories of Helm’s Deep, but instead of a massive siege, the battle involves the forces of good try to stop the Uruk Hai-esque Krug merely running up a muddy hill.

In The Name Of The King raises many questions as you watch it – Was Burt Reynolds that bored with retirement? How does two hours feel so long? Did Boll even know what Dungeon Siege was? – but as wailing Hair Metal inexplicably plays over the endless credit, you’re left with only one: why would someone give Boll that much money to make a film? Based on what? House Of The Dead? The fact that Alone In The Dark probably hadn’t been released when filming began? While watchable in an amusing, low rent sort of way, In The Name Of The King will more likely have you asking “how in the name of God?”.


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