January 14th, 2008

IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (2008) ***

Mere months after unleashing the hellish plague known as Bloodrayne 2: Deliverance upon the nation’s video stores, director Uwe Boll returns to cineplexes with yet another movie based on a video game.

Now many of you are thinking, “Hey Mitch, didn’t Bloodrayne 2 win the quadruple crown of bad movies when it scored the Video Vacuum’s Award for Worst Sequel, Worst Direct to DVD Movie, Worst Movie Based on a Video Game and Worst Film of the Year for 2007, and maybe you probably shouldn’t give Boll another chance?”

Yes, I know and I appreciate your concerns for my well being, but I suffer from an acute congenital birth defect that demands that I MUST see every movie based on a video game that Uwe Boll directs or I will die a horrible death.

Which makes me proud to report that In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is the best movie based on a video game that Uwe Boll’s directed since House of the Dead. I honestly believe that Uwe Boll is the Orson Welles of bad movies based on video games and if House of the Dead was his Citizen Kane; then this is his Magnificent Ambersons.

I don’t know what the heck that analogy means, but if it means that Dungeon Siege is the closest thing to a “good” movie that Boll’s done in a while, then that’s what it means.

Yes, despite the fact that his last theatrical movie, the ORIGINAL Bloodrayne made all of $37, someone had the cajones to actually give Boll a movie camera again.

Basically Jason (Crank) Statham plays a dude named Farmer who is well… a farmer. If you’re wondering WHY the dude would call himself “Farmer”, his wife (Claire Forlani from Mallrats) helpfully explains: “He believes a man should be called by what he does.”

Gotcha.

Anyway, Farmer’s entire family gets wiped out by a bunch of stuntmen in rubber monster suits and his village is burned to the ground. The monsters keep his wife alive however and send her to be a prisoner in evil wizard Ray Liotta’s lava factory. Farmer buries his son (he uses a stone dildo for a headstone) and vows vengeance, so Farmer, Ron Perlman and some reject from TNA Impact go on a quest to save her. Meanwhile King Burt Reynolds’ throne is in jeopardy because his upstart nephew (Matthew Lillard) is in league with Liotta and they plot to murder him.

This leads to several lengthy Lord of the Rings inspired battle scenes in which the peasants, led by Farmer, join up with the King’s men to fight off Liotta’s army of rubber suit monsters. Statham also makes an alliance with a bunch of forest dwelling lesbians led by Bloodrayne herself, Kristanna Loken and learns he’s the rightful heir to the throne before laying the medieval smackdown on Liotta.

We’re talking about medieval swordfights with effects stolen from the Matrix.

We’re talking about some of the best pillaging by stuntmen in rubber suits since Army of Darkness.

We’re talking about Burt Reynolds dressed as a samurai.

We’re talking about the Best Movie Based on a Video Game since Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

It’s no Sword and the Sorcerer but it’s a damn sight better than The Two Towers.

Nobody will argue that this is a good movie, but I laughed as much watching this movie as I did watching Juno, so that alone is worth SOMETHING.

This MAY be based on a video game (that I’ve never heard of, let alone played), but it’s real inspiration is the Lord of the Rings movies. Not only does the roguish hero become king, not only are there a bunch of “tree people” who help fight to save their forest home (I will say that I’d rather watch Kristanna Loken fight than Treebeard any day), not only is there a square off between two magicians, not only does the climax take place on a volcano, but John Rhys-Davies from all three of the Rings movies is in it too. The film also ends with one of those wimpy flute-fueled songs they’re always playing at the Renaissance Festival that for all intents and purposes should be called “The Ballad of Bilbo Farmer”.

Seeing Boll steal things off Peter Jackson and company wholesale is funny enough, but the fact that we never quite know WHEN all this is taking place adds to the humor. I mean parts of the movie resemble Middle Earth, but other scenes look like they came out of Robin Hood. The castle looks like a Medieval Times theme park, and the supporting cast includes ninjas, which were for the most part, few and far between during the Renaissance.

The performances also elicit a lot of chuckles as well. While Statham cruises on his brooding charisma and escapes more or less unscathed, the rest of the cast aren’t as lucky.

Let’s start with Ray Liotta. Now, I’m sure his character had a name, but I’ll be damned if I could remember it, because honestly, Liotta played himself throughout the entire movie. Whenever someone mentioned his character’s name (I know it started with a “G”), I was like who, huh? But when they cut to his character, I was like “Oh Ray Liotta, gotcha!” Now if you were to sit down and make a list of actors capable of playing an evil wizard, Liotta would come in 112th place right between Shaquille O’Neal and Nipsey Russell. Despite the woeful miscasting (or perhaps BECAUSE of it), Liotta is never dull to watch. He more or less plays the same character he did in Unlawful Entry, except his wardrobe is nicer. (His black leather trench coat is pretty badass.) He also gets some truly spectacular dialogue to feast upon like: “I’m beyond good. I’m beyond evil. These are childish ideas!” and “You killed me twice today.” He also does some of the finest work by an actor surrounded by a CGI whirlwind you’ll see all year.

Then there’s the one and only Burt Reynolds as the King. His face is so Botoxed out in this movie that he couldn’t express a single emotion, but just seeing Burt parading around quasi-medieval surroundings while dressed as a samurai… well, folks… I live for these things. Like Liotta, Burt gets some howlers of dialogue like “Sorcery!” (You have to see it in the context of the scene. He just kind of blurts it out.) and “Wisdom is our hammer. Prudence is our nail!”

Ron Perlman also does some fine work as Statham’s grizzled sidekick. I don’t normally like to talk about people’s physical features, but this dude keeps getting uglier in every movie. I mean there’s one scene in the film where he dresses up like one of the rubber suited monster to infiltrate their ranks AND IT WORKS. Nobody looks twice. The other monsters are just like, “Oh it’s you Ugly Monster, go right ahead.” My advice for Ron for Hellboy 2: FORGET THE MAKE-UP. You’re scarier without it.

That’s not to say that all of ITNOTKADST is enjoyable. There are a bunch of interminable dialogue scenes that go nowhere or are haphazardly edited so you don’t know who the heck or what the fuck these Renaissance ninnies are talking about. There’s also a lot of superfluous baloney with the King’s magician (John Rhys-Davies) and his daughter (Leelee Sobieski) who must make amends for boning Liotta by helping to fight, that slow things down as well.

Matthew Lillard will also grate on your nerves as the sniveling, whiny, backstabbing nephew of the King. Basically, Lillard’s still playing Shaggy, except with less hair and an English accent. Further proof that the man is nothing without Freddie Prinze Jr. watching his back.

But my biggest gripe with the movie is that NOBODY seizes a dungeon in this movie. In the film’s two hour running time (which is about 40 minutes longer than any Uwe Boll movie has any right being) all we get about a three minute scene where Statham’s brother in law (the TNA Impact reject) leads an uprising of prisoners, but they don’t siege the dungeon, just escape it. (This scene also features a great moment when he turns to the smoking hot prisoner next to him and asks her, “So… where you from?”) Even though the movie features ZERO Dungeon Sieging, at least someone uses the phrase “In the name of the King” in a sentence.

Despite it’s many, many, many faults, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale offers enough enjoyment for your entertainment dollar (uh… well I used a gift card left over from Christmas so it cost me nothing). For all it’s shortcomings, it features a lot of hilarious and memorable images such as the screen’s first ESP swordfight (Liotta and Davies just stand there with their arms folded while the swords do all the work. Brilliant.), Renaissance festival style fairies that swing through the air like Vegas showgirls, Ray Liotta as a 14th century wizard who dresses like a 21st century pimp, and of course Burt Reynolds dressed like a samurai.

You got to hand it to Uwe Boll. The only man crazy enough to begin his movie with a scene of two people lying in bed saying, “I knew you’d come. I could feel it before you came” and they AREN’T talking about doing the bedtime bugaloo. Uwe Boll, the man whose ego is so big that he ends the film with the titles:

“An Uwe Boll Film”.

“Directed by Uwe Boll”.

That takes guts.

With an ego like this, the title, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is kinda eerie because the A is emphasized. If Boll gave us AAAA Dungeon Siege, he could quite possibly give us another.

Hey, he made Bloodrayne 2, anything’s possible.

BRAIN OF BLOOD (1972) ** ½

Eddie Romero’s shot-in-the-Philippines “Blood Island” trilogy made a buck for somebody back in the USA during the late 60’s, so the producers wanted another film for the franchise.  They were too cheap to go back to the Philippines to film it, so instead they hired director Al (Blood of Dracula’s Castle) Adamson to helm it in his own backyard for $12.  The results are somewhat of a mess, but it’s still one of Adamson’s best movies. 

 

A dictator of a fictional country (Reed Hadley) dies and his sons (The Incredible Shrinking Man’s Grant Williams and Zandor Vorkov) hire a mad scientist (Kent Taylor from The Mighty Gorga) to perform an illicit brain transplant to save his life.  The first step is naturally to wrap his corpse head to toe in aluminum foil like a baked potato; then Taylor sends out his hideously deformed assistant Gor (John Bloom) to get a (unwilling) donor body.  After Gor drops his potential patient from a fire escape and fractures his neck, Taylor decides to put the dictator’s brain into Gor’s body, which complicates things with his fiancée (Regina Carrol, the director’s wife). 

 

There’s also a subplot involving Taylor’s midget assistant (played by who else, Angelo Rossitto) who keeps women chained up in the basement, a great flashback where a bunch of rednecks pour battery acid on Gor’s face, and some pretty memorable and messy brain surgery scenes. 

 

Taylor is pretty great as the demented doctor (he was in SIX Adamson movies altogether), but the rest of the cast (most of whom appeared in Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein the previous year) is uneven to say the least.  I guess that’s to be expected when you cast your wife and friends in your movie instead of experienced actors.

 

The goofy premise and funky performances will keep you snickering, but it’s Gor’s get-up that receives the most laughs.  The make-up is positively awful and he resembles a close cousin of the monster from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die; and just like that monster, you can see the actor’s hair showing through the bald cap. 

 

Brain of Blood loses points for it’s slapdash storytelling and erratic editing, but ironically, it’s one of Adamson’s more coherent efforts.  It moves along at a steady pace, and if you have a high tolerance for Adamson’s ineptitude, you’ll probably find yourself in Bad Movie Heaven. 

 

AKA:  Brain Damage.  AKA:  The Brain.  AKA:  The Creature’s Revenge.  AKA:  The Oozing Skull.  AKA:  The Undying Brain.