Uwe Boll was once the most hated man among the pop-culture fanboy community.
Nearly every movie site was filled with full-on hate for the German schlockmeister because of the way he plucked the rights to any videogame franchise he could get his mitts on and proceeded to ram them straight into the ground. Why anyone would crave great cinema from the properties like “House of the Dead” and “Bloodrayne” is beyond me, but there is no disputing the fact that Boll makes very bad movies.
Some of them are brilliant in how truly awful they are, with “House of the Dead” sitting atop the Mount Olympus of unintentional comedy heaven. Others are just bad in that they’re boring and stupid. “Alone in the Dark” comes to mind, co-starring Tara Reid as an archeologist, donning glasses in a half-assed attempt to make her look like something approaching intelligent.
The “Citizen Kane” of Boll’s output, though, is “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale,” a kinda-sorta adaptation of the PC role-playing game. While it never reaches the heights of hilarity that “House of the Dead” does, it more than makes up for it in the sheer volume of bizarre creative choices.
The casting of Jason Statham in the lead role, as well as the choice to have the great Ching Siu-tung choreograph the action scenes, were the only creative decisions that made sense. From there, we have Burt Reynolds showing up to collect a check as the titular king, Matthew Lillard devouring scenery as his scheming nephew, Ray Liotta setting fire to his career with a magic missile as the villainous wizard and a staple of B-grade fantasy offerings, Leelee Sobieski.
Combine those ingredients with expensive-looking effects, big battle scenes, as well as honeybaked ham dialogue, and you get a deliciously bad film out of the oven that seems like the modern equivalent to all those direct-to-video sword-and-sorcery movies of the eighties on steroids.
So naturally, when Boll released a “sequel” starring Dolph Lundgren, I went on record saying I MUST see it.
This was a mistake.
Here is the part where I’m supposed to tell you what the movie is about, but instead, I’m going to let the internet’s Library of Alexandria, Wikipedia, do it for me. It reads more like a news snippet, but let’s take a gander anyway, shall we?
“Uwe Boll has confirmed that the film will have a time travel story where Dolph Lundgren will play a former military officer who is attacked by ninjas and sent through a time vortex where he gets stuck in medieval times. Boll has also gone on to confirm that a dragon will be included in the film.”
That’s about it. It’s like a reverse “Masters of the Universe” for Lundgren, sucked back into a cheap fantasy setting because he’s, get this, “the chosen one.” A moratorium needs to be passed into being that forbids fantasy and science fiction writers from using this cliched claptrap, which has infected everything from direct-to-video schlock like this, to Hollywood blockbusters like Tim Burton’s unfortunate “Alice in Wonderland.”
The above “synopsis” also fails to mention Lochlyn Munro as the dastardly king, complete with a Prince Valiant wig and a crown purchased at Party City.
While “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” was a gloriously opulent offering of awfulness, “In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds” is just another bad movie drawing flies on the shelf. It also not only has a redundant title, but said title also seems to have jettisoned the “Dungeon Siege” brand, which can only be a plus for the makers of the “Dungeon Siege” games. The film is filled with the worst brand of stale medieval fantasy dialogue, making already-flat performances an embarrassing display for everyone on the screen.
Even the battle scenes are lacking in anything resembling excitement and imagination, at least the last film had Ching Siu-tung’s veteran prowess going for it in the action department, this film’s has absolutely nothing. Lundgren sleepwalks through his role, as though he’s biding his time for “Expendables 2,” and Boll shamefully humiliates Munro by making him appear completely diminutive in his ridiculous costume. Everything looks so cheap, it seems as though you’re watching a cruel LARPing session that has fooled Lundgren and Munro into participation. I couldn’t help but feel terrible for everyone unfortunate enough to have their name on this movie (except for Boll, of course).
While Boll’s direction is always flat and boring, the truly awful elements usually come from the writing. But even though someone else usually has the writing credit, it in no way means it’s necessarily their fault, as writers who have worked with Boll in the past have articulated his intense desire to ruin their scripts.
Blair Erickson wrote a piece over at Something Awful that chronicled the nightmare that was working on “Alone in the Dark,” and Guinevere Turner described the strange experience she had writing “BloodRayne” for Boll in the documentary “Tales From the Script.”
The reason I bring this up is that “In the Name of the King 2″ has a curious commentary on the Blu-ray from the film’s writer, Michael Nachoff. While Nachoff remains professional and courteous, his disdain for the final film is painfully evident in his voice. In nearly every scene, he describes something completely different that was on the page, as well as various reasons for the inept interpretation that exists on the screen.
His tone is so apologetic, it’s painful to listen to.
“In the Name of the King 2″ is clearly another example of Boll embarrassing a writer by going out of his way to demolish any attempt they may have made to write a decent genre film.
Boll’s toxic name is enough to keep most sensible people away from this film, apart from bad movie junkies like myself. But “In the Name of the King 2″ is not enjoyably bad, it’s the worst kind of bad in that it makes you instinctively reach for the fast-forward button, just so you can make the parade of inept stupidity finally end. Just let it rot and disappear with the rest of the trash.