In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale has the distinction of being the only DVD release that we know of which is using a quote from this website. That’s primarily because our own Josh Tyler was, literally, the only critic to give the movie an even a moderately positive review. The led to a lot of speculation that Josh is brain damaged in some way. Well, he’s not, but this is not a good movie. It’s not even a mediocre movie. It’s a bad movie. It’s almost not fair to review In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Nearly every critic, Josh excepted, who watches it is going to come to the same basic conclusion: low rent Lord of the Rings knock-off that sucks in more ways than can be counted. Still, I did watch it and you’re reading this so let’s get through it and we can both move onto more fulfilling pursuits.

As should be clear from the title, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is based on the “Dungeon Siege” video game. Director Uwe Boll has tried to make a Middle Earthish epic, but only succeeds in staging mediocre battles surrounded by embarrassing character and plot development with some cringe-worthy performances. Good actors like Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, Ray Liotta, and John Rhys-Davies come across as B-movie hacks and actual B-movie hacks like Claire Forlani, Will Sanderson, Leelee Sobieski, Matthew Lillard, and Burt Reynolds fair even worse.

The plot is pure Tolkien lite. A farmer named, if you can believe it, Farmer (Statham) lives peacefully in the kingdom of Ebh growing turnips with his outrageously hot wife, Solana (Forlani), and his son. A race of Orc-ish like creatures called Krug raid the nearby town and kill or capture most of the inhabitants. For reasons that are never made clear, Farmer is also some sort of boomerang throwing, sword wielding, kung-fu machine, and manages to do some damage on the Krug, but not before they kill his son and carry off his wife. Farmer chases after the Krug and Solana with the help of his friend Norick (Perlman) and Solana’s brother, Bastian (Sanderson.) Norick and Bastian are the poor man’s Gimli and Legolas, putting each other down but developing a mutual respect.

The Krug are under the control of an evil magician named Gallian (the mind-boggling miscast Liotta), who is attempting to take over Ebh from King Konreid (the mind-boggling miscast Reynolds.) Gallain manipulates both Muriella (Sobieski), the daughter of Konreid’s magical advisor, Merick (Rhys-Davies), and Duke Fallow (Lillard), the king’s drunken nephew and heir. Eventually, Farmer’s quest to find his wife leads to several big battles with the Krug and Gallian and much poorly edited fighting ensues.

If this movie just jumped from battle scene to battle scene with little or no attempt at character development, it might not be so truly awful. There are some flashes of near competence in the action sequences and it could satisfy undemanding fans until a more substantial sword and sorcery movie comes along. That’s not to say anything involved in the action is actually good, just that they don’t land the movie in the ranks of the worst films released in the last few years.

It’s mostly when the characters begin talking that the real trouble begins. Statham, Perlman, and Rhys-Davies do the best they can, but the dialogue comes across trite and silly. Sobieski is laughable both as an heir to magical powers and when she throws on leather armor and picks up a sword to kick ass. It’s not clear if Boll simply ignored his actors while they were reciting their lines or if he’s actually trying and is just really this incompetent. Reynolds has so many smarmy knowing looks that you can almost see him thinking that he’s really too good for this movie, which is saying a lot.

There aren’t a lot of ways to say it; this is just not a good movie. The budget of $60 million doesn’t show up on screen as most of the effects look cheap or are so cornball you are laughing rather than being wowed. It’s way too long (over 2 hours), so it doesn’t even work as a cheesy diversion. I don’t know what Josh was drinking when he gave this thing a qualified thumbs up, but he needs to stay far, far away from it from now on. As if the movie itself wasn’t already screwing over anyone who buys or rents it, the extras on this DVD are atrocious. Even the few people who are fans of this film will feel ripped off. Although I’m usually thankful that bad DVDs don’t have commentary tracks so I don’t have to sit through the whole movie again while I listen to it, the lack of one here was almost disappointing. I would have loved to listen to Boll or someone else talk about this movie in a positive way. Just an attempt to convince me, and maybe themselves, that the whole thing is not awful would have been more entertaining than the movie itself.

The disc does have something billed as a “Behind the Scenes Featurette.” Unlike most extras with this title, it’s not the usual promo piece with interviews, clips from the movie, and backstage shots. Instead it is a 10 minute look behind the scenes, literally. Someone with a video camera shot some behind the scenes footage of various scenes that are presented without introduction, narration, or a coherent order. Sometimes the video is of the actual scene being shot and other times it’s the set-up. You can’t really hear anything but what sounds like far away mumbling as the only sound seems to be from one of those video camera microphones. It’s really, really odd and not particularly interesting.

There are also three deleted/extended scenes. It’s hard to say too much about them. I get the idea they were added simply because they wanted to advertise that they existed. They aren’t any more terrible than the scenes in the movie, but that’s not saying much. There is also the theatrical trailer. Whoopie.

I do have to say that the DVD isn’t as cheap looking as you might think. It isn’t presented as some low-budget knock-off or direct to DVD pile of schlock. The picture and sound are good. That’s really about the only positive thing I can say about the whole product. It’s a bad movie with lousy extras and should be avoided. Pull out The Two Towers again, you’ll be much happier.