IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A Dungeon Siege Tale DVD Review

     April 3, 2008

Written by Aaron Roxby

Uwe Boll is a bad director. But you knew that already. Dr. Boll’s ineptitude is known the world over. In fact, it has come to the point that overdone comparisons between the good doctor and Ed Wood or unsettling, vitriolic rants about his movie adaptations of video games that weren’t any good as video games,let alone movies,are every bit as irritating as Boll, his movies or his lame publicity stunts.When Roger Avery and Christophe Gans, both excellent artists in their own fields, can’t make a watchable film outof atop tiergame like Silent Hill, Ithink we can cut Boll some slack from not being able to turn Bloodrayne into cinematic art.

Not that I am cutting Boll any slack. The man is shit as a director and, by all accounts, a human being. His boxing stunt was kind of funny until you saw him unleash hissinewy German fury on a sting of sub-90-pound Internet writers and he exploited footage of real animal torture for his shitty horror movie Seed. House of the Dead was a film so bad that… well, not necessarily bad enough to love it. Watching that movie was a lot like a really intense mushroom trip. I left shaken, uncertain of what I had just experienced, giggling, unsure if what I just saw was real, and even less sure if I had enjoyed it.

Credit where credit is due, Dr. Boll has become a much better director in the five years since that film. Just good enough, in fact, to have neutered almost all of his early work’s psychedelic fun, but not good enough to actually make a watchable movie. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (or ITNOTKADST), is Bolls proclamation to the world that he know how to put a hell of a weird cast together and has seen Lord of the Rings. From the color correction, to the score that Howard Shore should get royalties for, Boll proves that he can put a copy of The Two Towers into a DVD player, show it to his post guys and say “Make this!” Predictably however, ITNOTKADST lacks the scope of Peter Jackson’s opus. The results, moments in which the camera helicopter-sweeps over a a shabby collection of grass huts, and the music swells in anticipation of the audience’s gasps of astonishment are almost pathetic enough to be charming. Almost.

In making a film that is (mostly) technically competent, Boll has ended up with a boring, lifeless, drab little fantasy mess. The movie’s one remarkable feature is the cast, more for how bizarre it is than any of the individual performances. You get Jason Statham, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta (Looking distressingly like Liberace), Leelee Sobieski, John Rys-Davies, Ron Pearlman, Claire Forlani (faking an American accent for god knows what reason), Kristanna Loken andMatthew Lillard; all slumming it up in a freaking fantasy film. Liotta, Daviesand Pearlman, consummate pros that they are, inject a bit of life into things, while Burt Reynolds half sleeps his way through sitting on a horse, a terrifying skin-stretched mannequin in a medieval helmet.

The rest consists of horrible rubber Orcs (or Krugs, or something), unbearable dialogue and bland set pieces. Perhaps had this been in some other genre, these things would have been enough to drive things into funny-bad land, but this is Fantasy; the genre with arguable the highest ratio of crap to watchable. When your competition consists of movies like The Barbarians,Kull the Conquerorand Ator the Fighting Eagle you need to really bring you F game. All that Dungeon Siege has going for it is “He’s in this?” and a director so infamous, that even when trying to make a point about how overdone making fun of him is, I spend three paragraphs making fun of him.

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