Movie Review for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)

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Review #599 of 365
Movie Review of In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008) [PG-13] 124 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $8.00
Where Viewed: Harkins Ciné Capri at Northfield 18, Denver, CO
When Seen: 15 January 2008
Time: 4:20 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Uwe Boll (BloodRayne)
Screenplay by: Doug Taylor (The Carpenter) with Story by Jason Rappaport, Dan Stroncak, and Doug Taylor based on the video game "Dungeon Siege" by Chris Taylor

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jason Statham (War) • Leelee Sobieski (The Wicker Man) • John Rhys-Davies (One Night with the King) • Ron Perlman (The Last Winter) • Claire Forlani (Ripley Under Ground) • Kristanna Loken (BloodRayne) • Matthew Lillard (Without a Paddle) • Brian J. White (The Game Plan) • Mike Dopud (Shooter) • Will Sanderson (BloodRayne) • Tania Saulnier (The Invisible) • Ray Liotta (Bee Movie) • Burt Reynolds (Broken Bridges) • Colin Ford (Martian Child)

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Click to read the spoiler points for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
The first giveaway that director Uwe Boll's In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale was headed for a downward spiral, and there're two more, was the appearance of Ron Perlman as the stoic yet chatty Norick. Where's this cat been for the past 20 years? The second was the appearance of Ray Liotta as the perturbingly gleeful villainous chief antagonist and resident sorcerer gone wild, Gallian. The third and final sign, if more than just the first was needed, was the casting of Burt Reynolds as the near-his-end-of-days, King Konreid. If Mr. Reynolds is not the shabby USAer substitute for Sean Connery who is? And his hair and make-up people might have noted that a greyer beard and moustache would have added dignity rather than the salt and pepper contrast they achieved with snow white hair and coal black beard making him look like more of a carnival novelty than a regal king. So, three bad signs are followed up with a film that's probably perfectly released in the relic-month of film releases known as the Dead of Winter January. This is the month people catch up on all the great films they missed out on during the holidays or weren't allowed to see unless they live in NYC or LA which are privy to some of the year's best weeks or months earlier than the rest of the nation for some unknown and probably antiquated reason. So, why not release a needlessly long titled fantasy video game film? To be sure, why not? There's no better time for it to snag at least some male videogamers who've seen everything else and are desperate to get in a new film before Cloverfield comes out. It's unclear, given that the video game upon which the film was based, was a success but not a passionate success of millions, whether there are enough fans of the game to command any audience at all. Therefore, it would have seemed prudent, to come up with a really good story, a really good and fitting cast, and really strong technical effects and cinematography if the film were to have a chance of doing well at the box office. Ironically, the cast featuring Jason Statham in the lead, isn't the film's weakest link—though over-acting was the general method of the day for most of the actors. No, the weakest links are the story and the effects.

The story, which seems 1 part Eragon (without the dragons), 1 part the Last Legion (without the historic battles), and 1 part Without a Paddle (without Matthew Lillard)—oh wait, Matthew Lillard is in this film; and, actually, it bears no similarity to Without a Paddle unless you count corny jokes and deadpan lines, begins with Norick (Ron Perlman) paying a visit to his old pseudo son, Farmer (Jason Statham) whose pulling turnips from his fields with his dear little son Zeph (Colin Ford). Farmer is teaching his son the trade. Norick delivers a pig as he does annually to exchange for a year's supply of corn when Farmer invites him to dinner. Through all the niceties, we meet Farmer's lovely wife, Solana (Clair Forlani) who dearly loves her husband and son. We also learn that Farmer was abandoned at a young age in town to be sort of adopted by them all and raised mostly by Norick. Scattered throughout these opening scenes are scenes that take a while to make sense of a Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard) plotting against his uncle, King Konreid (Burt Reynolds) and a Magus named Gallian (Ray Liotta) stealing into the chambers of the daughter of Konreid's Magus, Merick (John Rhys-Davies), a lovely young woman named Muriella (Leelee Sobieski). He seems to be stealing power from her, power she seems unaware that she possesses.

The morning after their fine dinner, Solana and Zeph head off to marked with a wagon full of turnips, while Farmer stays behind to finish picking the crops. Solana and Zeph arrive at the home of Solana's parents just as an army of Krugs commanded by Gallian swarm Farmer's farm and Norick's barn. But, the Krugs don't stop there, they simultaneously attack Solana's family's village, leading to massive chaos and killing. Farmer and Norick fight off the Krugs and rush to the village to save Solana and Zeph. But, sadly they are too late and the Gallian-controlled Krugs too savage. Solana is captured, her parents and Zeph are murdered, and her brother Bastian (Will Sanderson), Norick, and Farmer barely escape with their lives. The King and his army arrive in the village the next day asking for volunteers to join the army to defend the kingdom. Here, the Magus Merick notices some recognition of Norick and Farmer. Farmer turns his back on the King feeling that he must now lead the charge to rescue Solana and avenge the death of his son. His impudence annoys the King's army Commander Tarish (Brian White), but the King waves off any reprimand. (for more plot details, see the spoiler)

The story might not sound that bad, it's not horrible. It's more like something one might find on a late-night cable channel, mini-series re-run from the 1970s. It has its good and weak parts. It's just all too 'been there done that' for today's times. Granted, unless a production company plans to fork over Lord of the Rings style budgets, fantasy films that follow the three Best Picture nominees of the Trilogy will always bear some trouble in trying to compete, look authentic, and measure up. Still, it's worth an effort to try, and the film does try—sometimes too hard. The battle scenes are either redundant, too long, or too unimaginative to capture the imagination. The conflicts and resolutions are mostly too obvious. The film's foreshadowing technique is about as subtle as a semi-truck with no brakes heading out of the mountains on I-70 into Denver in winter.

… a mixed bag…the last 15 minutes are the film's best part.
You look in your rearview mirror and see one of these guys and you know to just get out of the way. Meanwhile, the special effects would have been suitably fresh, again, back in the pre-LoTR days, maybe. But now they were reminiscent of American Ninja 4: The Annihilation, maybe? The Krugs were just about the silliest fighting force ever amassed. Granted, they were supposed to be under mind control by Gallian, but still. These guys are so 'fearless' they light themselves on fire to be catapulted onto the opposing army. Yeah. That's not made up. In the end, the movie ends. Apologies, that just had to be said. It would be the perfect finish to this review and befit the film rather well. Honestly, no, the movie does have a pretty good ending. In fact, the last 15 minutes are the film's best part. It's actually quite credible and entertaining. As for the rest, well, it's a mixed bag--which sums up the film in general.

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Cast Members
Jason StathamLeelee SobieskiJohn Rhys-Davies
Ron PerlmanClaire ForlaniKristanna Loken
Matthew LillardBrian J. WhiteMike Dopud
Will SandersonColin FordRay Liotta
Uwe Boll
Doug Taylor
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Review-lite In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008) [max of 150 words]
After the amazing success and budget for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, it's ever-after going to be difficult for fantasy films to compete. Thus is the case for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale as well. Directed by Uwe Boll, somewhat known for his translations of computer games to films from a screenplay by Dout Taylor, the film's story is it's best and worst asset. The cast too, has pluses and minuses, from the stoic Jason Statham as the would-be hero to the zealously fiendish Ray Liotta as the evil Magus Gallian, to oddly cast Burt Reynolds as the King. All the while, predictability is the course for this film, though the last 15 minutes and an ending that provides all the necessary closure without 'promise' for a sequel, does tie things up nicely. All in all, the film is a mixed bag.

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