Plot: Farmer (Jason Statham) is a simple man with a simple life, as he tends to his crops and looks after his family, his wife and son. He has no wish to leave this simple life, but fate soon steps in and forces his hand, when a vicious band of invaders attack his home and land. He is able to fend off the aggressors with the help of neighbor Norick (Ron Perlman), but when a second assault comes when his family is on the grounds, a more tragic outcome follows. Now his son is dead and his wife has been taken, which prompts him to take action to ensure her safe return. Norick lends his help and Farmer’s brother-in-law Bastian (Will Sanderson) also pledges support, so the trio marches off to rescue her, despite some imposing odds. Soon Farmer is pulled into a kingdom-wide plot that involves an evil magician, a noble king, and a traitorous usurper, but can a simple man navigate these dangerous, powerful circumstances and save his beloved?
Entertainment Value: Based on the popular Dungeon Siege video game series, Uwe Boll’s In the Name of the King boasts a remarkable ensemble of talent and some wild behind the scenes tribulations. Most of the issues seem to revolve around problems with the visual effects, from teams outsourcing the work to lesser firms to entire shifts in personnel. This chaos is more than evident on screen, as the visual effects are spotty and inconsistent, but to me, the strange CGI adds to the film’s outlandish appeal. The story is fine and walks a well trodden narrative, with no new twists and a reliance on fantasy cliches that never relents. So if you want to see new visions in the genre, this won’t fill that desire, but again, the slavish devotion to the cliches adds unintentional humor, if you can appreciate it. Yes, it is over the top in how it checks off and follows pretty much every fantasy cliche, but it is so blatant in that approach, it becomes a meta game of sorts to collect them all. I can’t argue that In the Name of the King is a genre classic by any means, but it is such an odd movie packed with offbeat moments and performances, I had fun with it. But then I have an appreciation for off the wall, inexplicable cinema, so perhaps that explains it. If nothing else, it is likely worth a look to some just as a curio based on all the production woes and of course, Uwe Boll is a heat magnet, so his films tend to draw interest.
The cast is also quite interesting and is likely to lure in curious viewers, as the ensemble is deep and impressive. A number of well known talents are involved and it is an eclectic mix, to say the least. The issue is that while the cast has ample talent, the material doesn’t give them a whole lot to do and how the performers handle that varies. So we have some who turn in over the top, scene chewing performances and others are listless, even disinterested, quite a range on showcase here. Jason Statham has the lead and while he is more than at home in b movie cheese, he doesn’t embrace the camp and delivers a basic, unmemorable performance. He is competent, but mostly sluggish and doesn’t dial things up like he has shown he can do at times. I think the best turn here is from Ray Liotta, who takes over the top to new heights as the wicked sorcerer and just devours scenes in ridiculous fashion. His performance is beyond outlandish, but adds fun to the movie and that is quite welcome, especially here. The cast also includes Ron Perlman, Kristanna Loken, Claire Forlani, John Rhys-Davies, Will Sanderson, Michael Eklund, and Leelee Sobieski. I also love that the movie has a power struggle between a tuned up Matthew Lillard and a barely conscious Burt Reynolds, so regardless of the movie’s merit, the colorful cast here is something to behold.