In a nutshell, Bored & dangerous says: “A great ensemble cast all acting like they’re in different movies.”
“Wisdom… is our hammer.”
At this point, director Uwe Boll seems more like a myth and urban legend, than he does an actual film maker. He’s the bloke who for years exploited a loop hole in the German tax system to make one shitty video game adaption after another. He’s the dude who challenged his critics to fisticuffs, and actually faced several of them in the ring. I’m not a big believer in movies being so bad they’re good. There’s the odd exception, like The Room or Birdemic series. But generally, I think a bad movie is just a bad movie. Uwe Boll however, has made such a fascinating career out of it that I felt like I needed to see at least one of his “movies”. Which is why I dedicated two entire hours of my life to In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.
In a fantasy world castle, a young princess (Leelee Sobieski) is being bedded by a creepy old man, Gallian (Ray Liota). Cut to Farmer (Jason Statham) proudly tending his modest fields, teaching his son the values of good, hard work. Old friend Norick (Ron Perlman) arrives, suggesting they join the king’s army where they’d both make a lot more money. But Farmer rejects the idea, content to live the quiet life with his family.
Meanwhile, in another castle, King Konreid (Burt Reynolds) sits sonless, with the heir to his thrown being his creepy nephew, Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard). All of these seemingly disparate characters are forced together when Gallian and Fallow form an alliance and send an army of orc like soldiers called Krug to take over the peaceful kingdom. When Farmer’s wife (Claire Forlani as Solana) is taken, he takes up arms and joins the king to help defeat Gallian.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is one of those movies where there are way too many characters, all with way too complicated back stories, all trying to do way too a much, in a story where somehow, nothing really happens. The plot is overloaded with events where characters tell us how important they are, it’s just that there’s so much going on, nothing ever gets a chance actually mean anything.
I can’t think of a single other movie that so completely wastes such a large and great cast. Bury Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jason Statham, Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman, John Rhyse-Davies… All of them have some pretty great movies in their filmographies, and have delivered memorable performances in the past. Not a single one of them is any good here, and I blame Uwe Boll’s direction. Or more importantly, I blame his lack of direction.
This movie feels like he was so worried about his craptacula special effects and set pieces, he never bothered to talk to the actors about how they would approach it, so each and every one of them is left to their own devices, which leads to a great ensemble cast all acting like they’re in different movies. Reynolds plays it straight, John Rhys-Davies goes full Shakespearean, Jason Statham sticks to his cockney tough nut bread and butter, and Liotta might be delivering spells and incantations, but he does it in the style of Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Surprisingly, the only person in the main cast who gets it right is Matthew Lillard. He goes big, he chews scenery, he has fun, and because of that, he actually feels like he belongs in this movie and in this world.
And another thing, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale doesn’t even have a dungeon siege in it! What the shit?!?! I never expected it to be good, but with such a clunky title. I expected it to at least deliver on that much. What was Boll’s reason for tacking on such an unnecessary subtitle? I might not ever think about the story of this movie ever again, but figuring out that inexplicable title is the kind of thing that will keep me up at night