In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Movie Information

The Story: A turnip farmer helps fight the evil wizard who kidnapped his wife and killed his son. The Lowdown: An incoherent, incomprehensible and inept Lord of the Rings knockoff from German filmmaker Uwe Boll.
Score:

Genre: Incoherent Fantasy Adventure
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Jason Statham, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Leelee Sobieski, Matthew Lillard, John Rhys-Davies
Rated: PG-13

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.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

16 thoughts on “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

  1. Ken Hanke

    Naw, I’m fine by now. I’ve rested up, watched a little 1930s Hitchcock, SWEENEY TODD and a few Val Lewton films to recover. I’m not saying that I’m ready to tackle Dr. Boll’s POSTAL (see attached trailer on IN THE NAME OF THE KING), mind you.

    So, Marc, you gonna go see it (don’t wait too long) or are you holding out for the director’s cut on DVD?

  2. Ken Hanke

    I did see the Scorsese thing (also finally DVDr’d those Lewton titles). Very well done indeed (I know some folks who’re cheesed that he never mentioned Lugosi, but…). I’ve always tended to think that the Lewtons are a little overrated and that Jacques Tourneur gets shorted in the credit department. But there’s some choice stuff in those movies.

    One thing that someone — mighta been Kiyoshi Kurosawa — said about there being something special about groups of films made in a relatively short space of time struck me as profound — and applicable to a much broader scheme than the Lewtons. Consider that all the great James Whale films are made between 1931 and 1936. The Ernst Lubitsch ones are between 1929 and 1933. Josef von Sternberg is 1928-1935. Rouben Mamoulian 1929-1933. Preston Sturges 1940-47. Richard Lester 1964-69. Ken Russell 1969-1975. There are exceptions (each has films of merit not in these batches), but all of these guys seem to have one period of intense creativity that stands out. I could make a case that most of these occurred at a time when movies were in transitional phases — something that allowed truly original work to be done with a minimum of interference. That won’t really work with Sturges and Lewton. There are probably others that could be grouped this way, but those are the ones that occurred to me off the top of my head.

  3. I’ve got some bad news for bad movie fans. It appears that Uwe Boll has been getting away with these movies due to a German tax-shelter loophole… basically he can get reimbursed for each flop he makes! Thanks to him, this loophole is now closed, so DUNGEON SIEGE might be the last Boll movie you’ll see in a theater… at least one with such a bizarre cast.

    marc

  4. Justin Souther

    I wouldn’t get too excited. Years ago, I’d heard that loophole had been closed, and these…things are still coming out. I think I even remember reading that before BLOODRAYNE came out.

    It would seem that dear Uwe is an unstoppable force of nature.

  5. I think that DUNGEON SIEGE was already in production, hence the LONG time between the first trailer and actual release. He said in the article I read that he’s going more “independent.” Ech.

    marc

  6. Ken Hanke

    “hence the LONG time between the first trailer and actual release.”

    And here I thought it had to do with Uwe working for two years to get the movie “just right.”

    I wonder if the attached trailer for POSTAL is a sample of Uwe as an “independent filmmaker.” What’s next DAS LITTLE FRAULEIN SUNSHINE? DER BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN?

  7. ShadowedFire

    the movie was alright but not the best…. As for the music at the end its one of the best songs recorded by one of the Best Metal Bands not “some German rockers”, Blind Guardian so finally I think this review sucks…

    Thanks..

  8. Sundance

    I wanted to go see this just for the incredibly motley cast…especially Jason Statham! I think he’s best when not speaking and just fighting (which he’s great at)!

    I’m glad I didn’t.

    Thank God for your review! You just saved me $10.

    LOL

  9. dano

    Just seen it. It was the dumbest movie we had ever seen. It was so dumb, it was comical. After 1 hour and fifteen minutes, I thought we were there for 2 hours. NOT SO! AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL!

  10. There are exceptions (each has films of merit not in these batches), but all of these guys seem to have one period of intense creativity that stands out.
    This is true of musicians also. Most great artists have a run of three or four records that stands up head and shoulders above their other work. For example:
    Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main St for the Stones (1968 to 1972).
    Tommy, Live at Leeds, Who’s Next, Quadrophenia for The Who (1969 to 1973).
    Certain artists hit a peak period of creative clarity and energy and through that period are pretty much untouchable.

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