A plodding patchwork of derivative fantasy-adventure, medieval production design, risible dialogue, unimpressive CGI trickery and haphazardly edited action sequences, “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” suggests what might have resulted if, somewhere between “Bride of the Monster” and “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” Ed Wood had miraculously obtained better actors and a bigger budget and attempted to film “The Lord of the Rings.” Even while working with a $60 million budget, the infamous Uwe Boll lives down to expectations lowered by his earlier, cheaper vidgame-based pics. Even avid genre fans will wait for the DVD release.
Not quite bad enough to qualify as camp, yet entirely too lackluster to qualify as a guilty pleasure, “In the Name of the King” is a second-rate saga of swords and sorcery, bombast and boomerangs. Latter prove to be effective weapons of choice for a husky farmer named — no kidding — Farmer (Jason Statham). After his village is attacked, his young son killed and his comely wife (Claire Forlani) kidnapped by the monstrous minions of an evil sorcerer (Ray Liotta), Farmer picks up his sword (and his boomerangs) and sets out on a rescue mission.
Also along for the journey: Bastian (frequent Boll collaborator Will Sanderson), Farmer’s strapping brother-in-law, and Norick (Ron Perlman), Farmer’s aging but feisty mentor.
Farmer’s ferocious fighting prowess attracts the attention of Merick (John Rhys-Davies), a sage “magus” to King Konreid (Burt Reynolds — yes, that Burt Reynolds), a besieged ruler preparing for war against the same creatures who laid waste to Farmer’s village. Eventually, it’s revealed that Farmer and Konreid share more than a common enemy. The revelation, it must be noted, is a good deal less than surprising, and not at all compelling.
Doug Taylor’s script, loosely based on the “Dungeon Siege” vidgame, is a lazy mash-up of cliched situations, grandiose speechifying and verbal anachronisms. But, then again, “In the Name of the King” is the sort of half-baked farrago that brings out the worst, or the least, in almost everyone involved.
Statham, Perlman and Rhys-Davies maintain a reasonable degree of professionalism without conspicuously exerting themselves, while Reynolds does everything but wink at the camera to indicate that he’s just there for the paycheck.
On the other hand, some cast members try a tad too hard: Matthew Lillard (as King Konreid’s weaselly nephew) and Liotta offer performances that indicate the actors spent long hours between takes flossing scenery from their teeth.
Leelee Sobieski (occasionally wearing what appears to be the same battle gear she used in her “Joan of Arc” miniseries) and Kristanna Loken are easy on the eyes as, respectively, Merick’s plucky protofeminist daughter and a vine-swinging, forest-dwelling Amazon warrior. It’s doubtful, however, that either femme will list this pic high on future resumes.
Mathias Neumann’s attractive widescreen color lensing of British Columbia locations is pic’s standout tech value.