Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In The Name Of The King (DVD Review)

It should come as no surprise that Uwe Boll's latest "video game to movie" effort has fallen short. I'm not looking to pound on him. (If you feel like doing that, more power to you. There's an interesting petition floating around the net you might want to search for and check out.)

No, I want to try and figure out the mystery behind him a little. Why do producers keep giving him movies to direct? With consistently poor reviews, you would think that producers would choose a different director if they want to make some money. Then again, does anyone know if his movies are making money? I went over to IMDB to try and solve the mystery.

The website gives production budgets and box office sales for nearly every movie listed, but without knowing the exchange rate for various countries around the world, I wasn't able to figure out how well Boll's movies did in the end. I suppose it's possible that he's able to make enough money from reluctant but obligated video game fans and the few people that like his flicks to make producers some money. But what about the others involved?

Take the cast of "Dungeon Siege" for example. Not an A-list name among them, but a LOT of very recognizable B-listers. Jason Stathum has shown he can carry his own action flicks and certainly doesn't need to seek out Boll for work. Ron Perlman either does artsy independent stuff or "Hellboy", so this was an odd choice for him. John Rhys-Davies, although a fine actor, has chosen pretty sub-par stuff since LOTR. Ray Liota's an okay actor, but he should have recognized that his hint of New York accent wouldn't gel with the part of "evil sorcerer".

What is it that enchanted these actors to be a part of this movie? Outside of a paycheck, I can't imagine. In the "Behind The Scenes" feature of the DVD, we basically see a montage of video clips from various shooting days on the movie. There's very little talking that is loud enough to be understood and certainly no interviews with actors talking about their "experience making the movie". Kristanna Loken obviously enjoys working with him. This will be at least her third Uwe Boll movie, with Bloodrayne 3 in production now.

So I guess I should talk about the movie, huh?

There's nothing horribly offensive for lack of quality in this movie, it's just a let down from beginning to end. It reminds me of the quality of sword and sorcery flicks in the mid 80's, but with CGI. So maybe that will work for you, in which case, enjoy with my blessings. The CGI was actually pretty cool looking in a few shots. Mostly the "magic effects" were enjoyable. Much of the green screen work fell short. Boll certainly made use of some LOTR fantasy movie devices like sweeping helicopter shots and rainy night-time battles. The monster costumes could have been better, or lit to avoid showcasing their flaws. (They looked best at night in the rain.)

The costumes and set design were conceptually cool, but executed cheaply. The script was weak, with exposition that set up nothing. The plot was also contrived and the acting performances were forced all around. There were far too many moments that were supposed to be dramatic and emotionally impacting, but that weren't earned through polished, invested performances.

As for meaningful discussion, there may be something in there, but the quality of the movie won't lead anybody to think about this flick after the credits start rolling.

Here's my theory: I don't think Uwe Boll should quit making movies. But he needs some help. First off, a scene coach to direct the actors. You can almost see them asking "is this what I should be doing?" with several of their lines. Boll, like George Lucas, obvious has no ability to coach and direct actors.

Second, give him movies with more focus on the visual and less on the emotional. Even with a scene coach, Uwe Boll doesn't do well with talking people in the frame. Give him action and special effects.

So maybe he should produce, direct second unit, or supervise visual effects. Call me a rebellious non-comformist for saying this, but I think there may be a place for Uwe Boll in Hollywood. Probably not in the director's chair, but the man obviously knows how to work a producer for cash. That's a job somewhere...

Quality: 5.0/10

Relevance: 4.0/10

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