Uwe Boll is a German filmmaker working almost exclusively in the fertile medium of terrible crap based on video games. Movie fans — who generally refer to him by his full name, “that damn Uwe Boll” — have learned to avoid anything touched by him, including the entire nation of Germany. This has become easier recently, as Boll’s movies have started going straight to DVD, but a few years ago he had a string of theatrically released abominations that innocent parties may have stumbled upon unawares.
One of these was In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, whose title menacingly suggests that there may be more Dungeon Siege tales in the future. (Dungeon Siege is a series of role-playing computer games. Like most things containing the word “dungeon,” it is for nerds.) Boll obviously had Lord of the Rings in mind when he made In the Name of the King — to the extent that he had anything in mind, anyway — and copied LOTR by making his film four hundred hours in length.
As you might expect, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the story of an evil magician named Ray Liotta who wants to dethrone a king named Burt Reynolds but is thwarted by a farmer named Jason Statham. It’s a story as old as time. Actually, I am kidding about the names. The evil magician is named Gallian, the king is named Konreid, and the farmer is named Farmer. I’m not kidding about that. He was born with a regular name, but when he grew up to be a farmer he decided to go by Farmer, because he “believes people become what they do.” If you work in farming long enough, your name just becomes Farmer. This opens the door for too many jokes, starting with one about the film being directed by Annoyer Boll, so we’re just going to leave it at that.
Anyway, Farmer and his wife, Solana (Claire Forlani), live happily with their young son in the kingdom of Ehb, which was named after a handful of Scrabble tiles. Everybody’s just minding their own business one day when a horde of Krugs come along and start slaughtering folk. The Krugs are like the Orcs in Lord of the Rings, or like the Oakland Raiders in real life, and you get the impression this is typical behavior for them. I mean, everyone is upset about the slaughter, sure, but no one’s very surprised, you know? Farmer’s son is killed and Solana is taken captive by the Krugs, who usually don’t take captives at all, so I guess it’s everyone’s lucky day, hurrah.
Farmer is pretty steamed about his son being murdered and his wife being abducted. Like most farmers, he always carries a machete and boomerang with him and is very, very good at hand-to-hand combat, so he’s able to dispatch a few Krugs while trying to save his family. Warrior-Fighter-Krug-Killer is what his name almost becomes, before he stops and does a little farming to balance it out. Then he and his friend Ron Perlman join up with Solana’s brother, Not Famous Enough For Me To Call Him By The Actor’s Name, to go in search of the Krug stronghold and rescue Solana.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, King Burt Reynolds is contending with his nephew, the stupid and cowardly Duke Matthew Lillard. Duke Matthew wants to usurp the throne from King Burt, and has enlisted Ray Liotta to help him. Ray Liotta used to be the king’s magus but is now exiled on account of being evil, which is against the rules in King Burt’s administration. Now all the royal magic duties are performed by John Rhys-Davies (who was actually in Lord of the Rings!), who is unaware that his daughter, Leelee Sobieski, is secretly sleeping with Ray Liotta. Leelee is doing this so that she can develop her own magic powers, which can apparently be acquired by having sex with someone who has them. That, or she misunderstood Ray Liotta’s “magic johnson” reference. At any rate, everybody’s scheming against everyone else, and it is a very good time for Ray Liotta, Matthew Lillard, and the Krugs to join forces in attacking the kingdom.
Ray Liotta, being magic and everything, can control the Krugs, who are otherwise mindless killing machines, like the Orcs in Lord of the Rings or Russell Crowe in real life. Ray Liotta can also project his consciousness into any Krug he chooses and see through that Krug’s eyes, thereby monitoring battlefield events from the safety of his lair, like a nerd in a role-playing game. “Honey, quit inhabiting Krugs and come up for dinner!” is what Ray Liotta’s mother says to him from the top of the basement stairs.
Back at Krug headquarters, Farmer, Ron Perlman, and Farmer’s brother-in-law are sneaking in to rescue the captives. They do this by disguising Ron Perlman as a Krug, a strategy that must have come at the end of an awkward conversation. (“Well, let’s see, which of the three of us most closely resembles a pig-faced monster…?”) This does not prove to be a successful rescue mission, insofar as it ends with two of the three being captured. Farmer escapes, changes his name to Escaper, and joins King Burt’s army, where he is known as Pvt. Army Joiner.
Then there is a very lengthy battle in the forest between the Krugs, the king’s army, Duke Matthew Lillard’s followers, and whoever else is nearby. People and Krugs shoot arrows at each other and hack at each other with swords, over and over again, forever. I don’t care what the time code on my DVD player says, this battle occupies at least three hours of screen time. Later in the film, by popular demand, there is another lengthy battle, filmed in even dimmer light and with less narrative cohesion. This second battle fills another several hours of screen time.
And it turns out Farmer, who thought he was an orphan, is King Burt Reynolds’ long-lost son!! Farmer dimly recalls the motto that King Burt used to recite to him as a toddler: “Wisdom is our hammer, prudence will be our nail.” Then we will use the hammer of wisdom to pound the nails of prudence into the two-by-fours of diplomacy, thereby constructing a house of knowledge on the street of understanding in the city of intelligence.
The only good part of this movie is during one of the battles, when the Krugs light a few of their fellow Krugs on fire and then catapult them into the enemy lines. The sight of a flaming Krug soaring through the sky like a comet is marvelous indeed. I would have no problem watching that for several hundred hours, should Uwe Boll decide to make an epic consisting solely of that image.