Several years ago one of the people from the inner circle of filmmaker Edward D. Wood Jr. (he of Plan Nine from Outer Space fame) commented that the lack of money on Ed’s moviemaking forays had less to do with their peculiar “quality” than did Ed’s complete lack of talent and taste. He put it rather succinctly, in fact, saying that Ed could have had millions of dollars and he’d have “still made a piece of sh*t.”
Now, the Ed Wood of our age, Dr. Uwe Boll has actually proved the same to be true about himself with the cumbersomely titled In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. While Dr. Boll may have been hampered by budgets on such gems as House of the Dead (2003), Alone in the Dark (2005) and BloodRayne (2005), he had a reported $50-60 million at his disposal (an apt term) for his sub-Lord of the Rings opus here, and, if anything, the results are even worse than his earlier efforts. It’s been almost exactly two years since the mindnumbingly hilarious trailer for In the Name of the King was attached to the release prints of BloodRayne, and for admirers of ineptitude on an almost unimaginable scale, it may have been worth the wait.
The problem is that while King is mesmerizingly bad and unintentionally hilarious, it drags on far too long for the amusement value not to wane in the process (and this after 20-plus minutes had been removed for U.S. release). Unfortunately, the fact that some of the movie’s ripest cheese occurs in the last half-hour makes it impossible to walk out at the comfortable 90-minute mark and still get the full Boll experience.
Strangely, for something this ungodly long, there’s not a whole lot of story. It boils down—or Bolls down—to a simple tale of evil wizard Gallian (Ray Liotta) trying to take over the kingdom of Ebb with the assistance of duplicitous Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard) and a bunch of scraggly LOTR Orc knockoffs called Krugs, who occasionally say, “Roar!” but mostly just make simian grunts to indicate their lack of intellect. Just where this kingdom is I don’t know, but since the king of the title is played by Burt Reynolds, I’m guessing it’s the Lost Continent of Atlanta.
The film, however, tends to focus on the fate of a simple turnip farmer named Farmer (Jason Statham), who foolishly sends the little woman (Claire Forlani) and their son (Colin Ford) off to market with the crops just in time for the latter to be killed and the former to be captured as slave labor (I guess) when the Krugs attack the village in the first of an endless stream of utterly incomprehensible battle scenes of the jumbled-editing variety. (In fairness to Dr. Boll, this may, in part, be an attempt to keep the viewer from seeing the zippers on the rubber Krug suits.) It turns out, of course, that Farmer isn’t really a simple farmer, but the carelessly mislaid son of the king (I think Miss Prism left him in a handbag somewhere).
None of this truly conveys the unblinking strangeness and stupidity of the movie, since the dementia is in the details. And what details they are! First, there’s Ray Liotta’s evil wizard. Not only does he look and sound like he came straight to Ebb from Jersey and overact like there’s no tomorrow, he’s alternately garbed in bargain-basement Liberace togs and a Hot Topic leather trench coat. He’s also managed to seduce Leelee Sobieski, who must be uncommonly easy. Then there’s Matthew Lillard as the Duke, who minces and prances to such a degree that it’s surprising they didn’t call him Duke Nancy (and probably did between takes). Lillard is so outraged over being in this movie (a step down from Scooby Doo?) that he tends to spit every time he screams his lines.
What can be said of Reynolds’ King Konreid, except that he comports himself with the confidence of a man who knows that his wig is glued on firmly. Well, it could also be noted that he plays a few scenes on horseback, in which both he and the animal appear nervous, and he gets an incredibly long death scene that he plays in a black T-shirt that’s mostly hidden by a sheet. At least, he’ll no longer be able to view At Long Last Love (1975) as his most embarrassing performance.
If all this isn’t enough, there’s also a band of busty leather-clad arboreal lesbians (headed up by BloodRayne star Kristanna Loken) who say things like, “Men! They’re not only useless, but helpless as well.” And then there are the Krugs, who set themselves on fire so they can be catapulted at their enemies flambé style. Ninjas show up for no apparent reason and disappear just as inexplicably. The heroine’s alarmingly cross-eyed brother (Will Sanderson) asks the hot-babe prisoner chained next to him, “Hey, where you from?” Are you getting the picture?
Make sure you don’t leave before the ending credits or you’ll miss two of the worst songs ever recorded by some German rockers called Blind Guardian (Tone Deaf would be more to the point). Imagine, if you will, a metal band being given acoustic instruments and told, “Make like Jethro Tull,” and you’re still only part way to the stunning dreadfulness on tap. Truly it can be said that the Boll weevil is in the cotton crop of cinema again. Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences.