Theatrical Review: Uwe Boll
has no soul. He has no moviemaking skill or artistic acumen, either. Yet somehow, thanks to a deal with the devil, someone trying to launder a buttload of illicit cash, or a back room loaded with blackmail fodder, he keeps getting to regularly desecrate cinema -- i.e. direct films. Terry Gilliam
can't get a job. David Lynch
has to go to home movie technology to get something made, and yet this German joke has no less than nine projects either completed or in development, and his latest is staining a theater screen somewhere near you. As usual, Boll is about five years late to the Lord of the Rings ripoff race. However, if you're longing for another lame copy of every crappy sword-and-sorcery epic ever made, In the Name of the King is it.
The story is a little scattered, but the main narrative strand involves a chiseled chump named Farmer (Jason Statham
), who vows vengeance on the evil Krugs for destroying his family. Along with pal Norick (Ron Pearlman
) and brother-in-law Bastian (Will Sanderson
), they defy King Konreid (Burt Reynolds
; yes, you read that right) and head out looking for payback. Along the way, they confront the mud-dog creatures led by wicked wizard Gallian (Ray Liotta
; yes, you read that right as well). Our malevolent magic maker has been literally sucking the power out of his rival Merick's (John Rhys-Davis
) daughter Muriella (Leelee Sobieski
; so here's where she went!), and with the help of the ruler's inelegant nephew Fallow (Matthew Lillard
), he plans to overthrow the court and use the Krug as his new army. On the way to a final confrontation between Farmer and Gallian, we get lots of pseudo-spectacle swordplay, some bad CGI vistas, and a visit from Cirque de Soleil in the form of acrobatic tree-dwellers whose leader (Kristanna Loken
) hates humans. Article continues below
For several years now, critics have been complaining about the dull-as-dung efforts of Dr. Boll, believing that there is some unfathomable secret to his mighty motion picture suckitude. The truth is, the reason behind his films' ridiculously retarded nature is right up there on the screen for everyone to see: The man can't cast. While Statham is fine, if a bit too English bulldoggish for Farmer, no one except a talent seeking tax shelter would think the artist formerly known as "Bandit" Bo Darville would make a believable sovereign. Even worse, every time Liotta shows up, we keep waiting for Joe Pesci
and Robert De Niro
to congratulate him for taking a pinch like a man. Only Sobieski and Lillard seem appropriate for this Irwin Allen level of spectacle. But with Boll's camera careening around the action like a drunken hobbit with ADD, we get a handle on very little, let alone character motivation or personality.
Indeed, In the Name of the King's main flaw is the lack of convincing context. We are merely dropped in the middle of this Dungeons Without Dragons dreck and asked to buy every unconvincing moment of it. The pacing is schizophrenic, the editing clearly from the "meanwhile, in another part of the film" school of cutting, and the stupefyingly stilted dialogue provides more unintentional laughs than the actual moments of forced funny business. While slightly better than the abominable BloodRayne, this is the kind of movie than makes stagnant saber rattlers like Quest of the Delta Knights look like the second coming of Tolkien. This is one trip to Middling Earth that no fellowship, no matter how enchanted, could survive. Now imagine how doomed the audience is.