Starring: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, John Rhys-Davies, Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski
Written by: Doug Taylor
Let’s just cut to the chase and let me say what I want to say, because it’s a biggie: In the Name of the Kingis actually decent. There, I said it. Uwe Boll has actually managed not to completely bungle up this movie, creating a nice cool breeze for many wayward souls in Hell. And if you compare this movie to other Boll films, it’s downright a cinematic masterpiece.
In the Name of the King is based on a PC video game called Dungeon Siege. In the game, the player takes on the role of a simple farmer who is more or less thrust into a long journey fraught with peril and many battles against several species of creatures, including the Krug, which are Orc-like humanoids. The film version, for better or worse, only retains the farmer aspect (the main character is literally named Farmer), a few companion characters and, of course, the Krug. Beyond that, the storylines are completely different.
You’ll actually be reminded more of The Lord of the Rings than the source material. Characters discover their royal lineage. Krug look like Orcs. Horseback Krugs look like Ring Wraiths. The bad guy’s underground lair looks like Saruman’s Uruk-hai factory. While being a knockoff of a better film is normally bad, in this case, it works to the film’s benefit.
Jason Statham plays the role of Farmer. He’s embroiled into the war effort to stop the evil Gallian (Ray Liotta) who is leading/controlling the Krug after Gallian kills Farmer’s son and abducts his wife. Along the way, Farmer teams up with several recognizable actors, like Burt Reynolds, John Rhys-Davies and Ron Perlman, all playing respective fantasy roles.
What really sets In the Name of the King apart from other Boll efforts is that it actually feels like a movie. There are wide angles and flyovers where you expect them. Fight scenes are well choreographed and don’t go on pointlessly. Characters are fleshed out a little. Boll actually makes some smart directorial choices here as well, like compensating for the Krugs’ rubber suits by keeping them out of frame as much as possible. On the other hand, there are a ton of crappy things about this movie too. There are a few CGI backgrounds that look straight out of a George Lucas movie. Ray Liotta played his role a little too seriously (or not seriously enough, I can’t tell). There are also a few contrivances where characters behave like morons, like killing someone as slowly as possible, giving them the chance to escape. All things considered, the final product falls on the positive side.
I didn’t find myself picking In the Name of the King apart like I expected to, but don’t get me wrong, this movie couldn’t hold its own against industry films of the same nature. As a movie, it’s lackluster, formulaic and unexciting.
Put it on cable television as a “made for TV” movie and it’ll be right at home.