Sunday, 6 November 2016

In the Name of the King (3½ Stars)

This is the 24th film starring Leelee Sobieski, made in 2007. It was actually filmed in 2005, but there was a lengthy post-production process. This was the director Uwe Boll's 12th film, but it was his first big budget production. Up until then his films had cost a maximum of $3 million, but this time he had a budget of $60 million at his disposal, and he didn't want to make any mistakes. The film still made a loss anyway. It only earned $13 million at the box office, plus $30 million in DVD sales, which made it officially a flop.

I know Uwe Boll is the director people love to hate. I already discussed my feelings about this in my reviews of "Bloodrayne 3" and "Postal". Let's just judge "In the name of the king" on its own merits.

My main problem with the film is that it's too short. We're thrown right into the action from the start, and it's difficult to see what's going on. Apart from that, the characters aren't well developed at the outset, although we do get to know them slowly as the film progresses. The film would have profited from another 30 to 60 minutes build up. There's a big mythology in the background, and I would have liked to know more about it before the action started. On the other hand, I've found out that there's a director's cut that's 40 minutes longer than the version I watched today. Maybe that would solve my problems.

The film is based on the video game "Dungeon Siege" which was released in 2002. I expect that people who have played the game will judge it on its similarity to the game. Uwe Boll admits that he's not a game player, but he let someone play the game in front of him so that he could see what it's like.

The film is about a man called Farmer, played by Jason Statham, an orphan adopted by a family in a small village. The land is caught up in a civil war when the king's nephew tries to overthrow his uncle. He's first in line for the throne, but he's too impatient to wait for his uncle to die. It's a tale of swords and sorcery, with rival magicians fighting on each side. There's also an army of dog-like creatures called the Krug, not too different from the Orcs in "Lord of the Rings". The king is assisted by wood nymphs, under the leadership of Kristanna Loken. Leelee Sobieski is the daughter of a mage loyal to the king, but she's also willing to carry a sword into battle.

Leelee has a brief scene at the beginning in which she passionately kisses the rival mage Gallian. That brings the total to one film that contains a simulated sex scene and five films with passionate kisses. That makes the percentage of films in her career so far with sexual stuff to either 4% or 26%, depending on whether or not the kisses are included. This is far below the 90% that she claims are necessary in films today.

I've never considered Jason Statham to be a good actor, but he's suitable as an action hero. When he plays the main role in a film you can expect exciting fight scenes, not emotional depth. The film contains a lot of battle scenes, both one on one and armies clashing. The final showdown between Jason Statham and the enemy mage is remarkable. It makes up for many of the weaker scenes earlier in the film.

Last week Uwe Boll announced that he's decided to retire from film making. He's only 51. I've listened to a few interviews in which he explains his decision. He gives more details in the German interviews. He sees himself as a champion of independent film making. With few exceptions he considers the big budget Hollywood films to be trash, although he praises a lot of the low budget independent films. Uwe Boll has financed most of his films himself out of his personal savings. Despite mediocre box office results he's managed to make money from most of his films, though only with the help of German state subsidies. He's said that he personally can make one million dollars profit from a typical film, but if he makes two million dollars loss from a film it wipes out the profit from his last two films. He now feels that the independent film industry in general is too risky for him. He's a gambling man who's decided to quit while he's ahead. That's sensible. At the moment he has enough money to live on for the rest of his life, but one unsuccessful film could change everything.

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