In terms of bad movies, “Uwe Boll” is a name that means quality. More precisely, it means “lack of quality.” His output has been prodigious, and he’s especially well-known as the king of bad video game movies.
The best part is, people somehow keep throwing money at him to make things like “Bloodrayne,” or today’s offering, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.”
While “In the Name of the King” isn’t considered the worst movie Uwe Boll has ever made, it is the least profitable one, as it grossed $10 million and had a $60 million budget. Yes, that’s right. Unlike many of the movies that will be featured here, this one actually was meant to be a big Hollywood blockbuster action flick with a real budget to match.
But the most interesting thing about this movie isn’t how badly it failed. It’s how many excellent actors Boll managed to get for it.
I usually call this movie “In the Name of Burt Reynolds,” because Reynolds plays the titular king, but he’s certainly not the only big name in this stinker.
In a tremendous feat of miscasting, Jason Statham plays the lead, a farmer named Farmer whose generic son is killed and whose generic wife is kidnapped at the beginning of the movie.
Statham is better known from “The Transporter” and various other modern action flicks, and he does “British criminal, but not too bad of a guy” really well. This is the only movie I’ve seen in which he plays a different part, and plays it very very badly.
Ordinarily I’d say that means Statham should stick to what he’s good at, but there are other actors here who did, shall we say, a bad job.
Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not right. That was meant to be a picture of Ray Liotta, who plays the bad guy of the film. Let’s try that again.
Nope, that’s still not right. I keep messing this up, because it was honestly hard for me to tell that this was Ray Liotta acting and not a block of wood.
There we go. Ray Liotta portrays, and I use the term very loosely, an evil wizard named Gallian, which is pronounced exactly like “galleon” but disappointingly has absolutely nothing to do with ships. He also has nothing to do with acting, and delivers some of the most wooden lines in the history of the motion picture business. I’ll grant you the writing of “In the Name of the King” is probably about George Lucas-calibre (remember Episode I? It’s okay, we tried to blot it out too), but even so, there are a few people in this film who roll with it. So I have to blame this one on Liotta.
One of the people who just rolls with the ridiculous part he’s taken is Matthew Lillard, who’s busy playing a vapid evil nobleman who wants to become king. Since he’s the king’s actual heir at the beginning it doesn’t seem a totally ridiculous goal, even though the character is thoroughly ridiculous.
Lillard, who is mostly known for playing Shaggy in “Scooby Doo” shows of various types, obviously decided to cut loose and have fun with his part, because most likely, no one would ever let him be the bad guy again because he’s too well-known as Shaggy.
So Lillard manages to coax some life into the silly stereotype of his character by chewing scenery so much he makes Vincent Price look restrained.
Then there are the actors whose presence in the movie is just baffling.
Why is John Rhys-Davies lending this movie his gravitas? Isn’t there any more worthy project out there, like a commercial for cheese-in-a-can or ED medication? Here he delivers a first-rate performance all the more incongruous in a last-rate movie, as a wizard whose job is mostly to deliver exposition and have a daughter who imperils the kingdom by having sex with the wrong man. (Thank you for that progressive plot point, by the way, movie.)
Equally inexplicable is LeeLee Sobieski’s presence in the movie as said daughter. She’s earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and she’s pretty well-known for being in small independent flicks. She was nominated for a Razzie Award for this thing.
Why is Ron Perlman in this movie? He even plays a human, so Boll clearly wasn’t interested in his extraordinary gift of amazing acting despite eighteen layers of prosthetics. And why does he have an American accent when Jason Statham sounds, well, like Jason Statham?
Then there’s the less well-known but also-excellent Kristanna Loken, playing… some sort of a forest tree-elf-nymph, I think.
She’s not as well-known as the rest of these, but I vividly remember her mostly-wordless performance as a Terminator being the only good thing about “Terminator 3.” She was fantastic, and I’m sorry to say that she also stars in Boll’s “Bloodrayne” movie. She deserves better, really.
“It’s like… every third line was put into some web translation service,
translated into Portuguese, then translated back into English
and put into the script again.”
– J., who had the misfortune of watching this movie
There’s so much more wrong with this movie than the writing and (some of) the acting, though. The monsters, which are called Krug but are basically orcs, resemble nothing so much as the villain-of-the-week from Power Rangers. They also look slightly like ninja turtles who’ve been rolled around in brown paint. The movie had a real special effects budget and these were the best they could do?
Even the music is bad, and intrusively so. It swells at inappropriate times and gets quiet at other inappropriate times. We don’t need the “crossing a river under heavy fire from cannons!” style music during a scene in which a man is silently burying his child. That’s not the emotional note you want there.
And of course everyone has good teeth, the good guys generally have clean clothes, and clearly the kingdom has stock in an iron foundry because all the women shave their legs. And why are there ninjas in this movie?
The utterly generic plot, which is “man gets revenge for his son’s death and must rescue his kidnapped wife” makes the movie tedious. I’m sorry, but this plotline was old in the 1990s, long before 2007, when “In the Name of the King” premiered, and there’s basically no excuse for using it anymore unless you can come up with a really unusual twist. Note: “The lead character turns out to be the king’s true heir” is not an unusual twist.
The movie is a long and boring slog for other reasons, too. Clearly someone saw Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies before making this thing, because there are so many tedious big battle scenes between rival armies that the audience really doesn’t care about.
When you don’t care a bit about any of the people involved, action scenes aren’t interesting no matter how many things get shot, stabbed, or blown up.
I’m looking at YOU, Michael Bay.
As with almost every movie, however, “In the Name of the King” did do some things right.
- There’s no boob plate. A woman wears armor in this movie and it looks more or less like armor, with no cleavage,
no cutouts and no metal breast-shapes. (Putting breasts on armor would direct a sword-blow directly into your chest, which is a bad idea for obvious reasons.)
- There are black people in the movie. I’d give partial points here because they’re obviously important army leaders, but they’re not given any characterization so it’s rather difficult to care about them. And they’re certainly not main characters, unfortunately. As usual with these things, every single main character is white. At least black people exist in this universe, I guess.
- No one makes any sexist comments about the pretty women who help Jason Statham save the day at the end.
- At one point, someone flips a table.
- Statham’s wife helps kill Gallian at the end, by stabbing him. Normally these movies are all about the man getting revenge, and it never seems to occur to people that the woman might as well, even when it’s a mom.
Even so, it’s still a bad movie.
“I think that this movie was written by a shark.”