Sunday, March 28, 2010

You Can't Spell Dungeon Without Dung

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)

Frankenmovie. That’s the first thing that popped into my mind while watching my first Uwe Boll-directed film.

Don’t know who Mr. Boll is? Lemme enlighten you, grass hoppa. He’s a German nutcase who directs mostly video game-to-film adaptations. House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, Postal, BloodRayne 2, Far Cry, and the upcoming Zombie Massacre. All video games, all made into movies, all of which were directed by Mr. Boll. Add ITNOTK: ADST to that list.

I’d rather eat glass than watch this stupid movie again. Why? Because eating glass would be better for me.

There is NOTHING to recommend in this celluloid turd; it’s nothing but one giant, dull, pointless cliché. The story has damn near EVERY heroic fantasy chestnut sloppily stitched together like Frankenstein's monster: the peaceful farmer who becomes a warrior, the sniveling royal nephew who has designs on the king’s throne, the beautiful girl who wants to fight but whose father won’t let her, the wise old man and his young, traitorous protégé (they of course duel to the death – all they left out was the line, “when I left you I was but the learner now I am the master”), the wise old uncle/mentor figure who accompanies you on your quest, the goofy orc-like Krug hordes controlled by the black-leather clad big bad. GAH! They didn’t attempt to turn any cliché on its head, so everything felt like a lousy retread of people, things, and events that we’ve seen a million times, which is exactly what it was. The average episode of Xena was much more fun than this. Hell, even Legend of the Seeker is more original and exciting than this drek.

Jason Statham plays Jason Statham as a farmer named Farmer (don’t ask). John Rhys Davies is looking VERY long in the tooth as the mage Merick. (After his terrific work in the Lord of the Rings movies, I say we forbid Davies from working on shit like this as it only tarnishes the memory of his past fantasy film roles.) Ray Liotta, extremely miscast in this movie as Gallian, has his hair poofed up and his voice extra screechy as Merick’s former apprentice mage and now enemy of the throne. (Liotta should never do period films. Never, never, never, never. He will always look and act like the guy from Newark, New Jersey that he is) Leelee Sobieski is the only cast member who fits her role as the daughter who longs to do more. But the worst casting is Burt Reynolds as the king. You know, I’m just like you: when I think of heroic J.R.R. Tolkien-esque fantasy set in a primitive British setting I think of Burt Freaking Reynolds, who looks just ducky with his flocky white hair, jet black eyebrows, and brown and grey beard. In his very first scene he looks right at the camera, obviously telling us, “I’m doing this for the money until the studio remakes Smokey and the Bandit.”

This movie should have been called In the Name of the King: Going Through the Motions as that is precisely what it does. There are so many subplots that it felt as if it were a 6 hour miniseries that was edited down to a 2+ hour feature (it was 127 min, but, gods help us, apparently there's a 156 min Director's Cut). And it was a 2 hour feature that crawled along at a snails pace. The first big battle with the Krug, who are among the stupidest looking monsters I’ve ever seen with their pull on face masks, lasts around 15 minutes and it doesn’t’ move the movie forward one iota. It was just an excuse for an extended fight sequence, and a lousy excuse at that because nothing was staged very well (or photographed or edited in an exciting manner). Statham has too many obvious kung fu moves in his action scenes (the stunt coordinator is from Hong Kong, which didn't help). Why a pre-historic British farmer would wield a sword and fight like an Asian martial artist is never explained.

One thing I noticed was that the movie must have had a decent helicopter budget as several scenes were shot on the ground and then from over head. Something as simple as Statham and friends approaching a dwelling was shot from their point of view, then all of a sudden the editor cuts to a circling overhead shot. It was more jarring rather than adding any sense of majesty or even interest in the scene. The movie was based on the Dungeon Siege game, but there was no dungeon sieged in the film. The "sieging" was done in the forest.

This is one of those movies that is just godawful; it’s not stupid enough to be funny. It’s just a long slow slog to nowhere.

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