Thursday, 7 April 2016

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)

Signs of the apocalypse: somebody deciding "you know, what the world needs is an extended director's cut of a Uwe Boll film".

Of course, that somebody was probably Uwe Boll.

Clocking in at a weighty 155 minutes - 28 more than the original release, though what the new footage is, I couldn't say - this film is loosely (very, very, very loosely) based on the fantasy computer game Dungeon Siege. By which I mean that it uses some of the place names, a couple of character names (including that the protagonist is known simply as "Farmer"), and the Krugs, which are the game's totally-not-Orcs. The game's plot and more idiosyncratic elements of its setting, such as the steampunk goblins, are jettisoned.

Jason Statham plays ... well, Jason Statham ... but his character's name is the aforementioned Farmer. When his home is attacked by the Krugs he sets out to save his wife and son from the invaders, and becomes embroiled in a sprawling fantasy travelogue quest involving wizards (of course), a king (it is in the title, after all), vine-swinging not-elves, random ninjas, and plenty of moments that suggest Herr Boll really liked Peter Jackson's Return of the King.

So look, this is a rubbish film, but it's a rubbish film that I rather enjoyed. For one things it's as close to a real movie as Boll's ever made. For another, it's helped by a surprisingly strong cast: there's Statham obviously, and also Ron Perlman, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies and Ray Liotta all in major roles. Plus we have Matthew Lillard as totally-not-Wyrmtongue. There's also more minor parts for Kristanna Loken as Tarzan Galadriel, and Burt Reynolds as King Just Here for the Paycheque.

Above and beyond all this, there's a kind of unselfconscious "kitchen-sink fantasy" feel to the movie. There's long lost princes and overwrought dialogue and women putting on armour to prove themselves to their families and excessive amounts of travelling and brief encounters with plot-token minor characters and "epic" battle scenes and goofy weapons and you better believe there's some riding of horses through forests, brother. I even cracked a smile at the blatant "Eowyn and the Witch King" knock-off that they did.

If you're the kind of person who enjoys mocking would-be fantasy epics, you might well like this as much as I did.  Otherwise you should probably avoid it.

No comments:

Post a Comment