You know - of course you know - that nothing gives me greater pleasure than a big movie gone truly terribly wrong. The idea of a company investing $180 million dollars into a movie and nobody ever saying "Hey! This script is written by the same guy who wrote 'Mannequin IV!'" is one of the brilliant ironies for which America should become better known. I mean, certainly it can be disappointing to discover that the epic series you've been following ends in a sniveling whimper of misguided plot decisions and dizzyingly off-putting effects, but when you enter a theater knowing that what you're in for is an example of ham-fisted storytelling and breathtaking jumps in logic, what more could you ask for on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Buy popcorn and bring a friend along who also can't help but smile whenever Chris O'Donnell tries an accent. You won't regret it.
Certainly from the preceding paragraph you would be expecting this post to be about National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and yes, that post is coming, though I haven't yet seen what's sure to be a glorious piece of cinematic goobledygook. But, incredibly, there is a movie approaching which looks almost certain to eclipse Nat'l Trez: BS as the finest example of how everything gone wrong in Hollywood sometimes makes everything feel oh so right. That movie is In The Name of The King: A Dungeon Siege Film. It comes out in January 18th, it'll be in every theater near you, and it's going to be terrible. I mean, so godawful that you won't be able to believe it, you won't even be able to breathe. If you doubt that it could in fact be as bad as I say, follow along with me for a moment as I break this movie down and show you just how mystifyingly stupid this film is destined, even guaranteed, to be.
First things first: let's take a look at the director.
It's directed by Uwe Boll. If that doesn't make you gasp with a combination of horror and wonderment, keep reading. Uwe Boll is, to put it nicely, the worst director in the history of cinema. To be fair, though, the earth has yet to implode into a little ball, so it is still possible he could be unseated. But it is not likely.
What's incredible about Uwe Boll movies is not just that they are bad, but that he consistently can find investors to keep making them. Video gaming is the biggest new market in the world, a much bigger business than Hollywood, and Boll only does adaptations of video games, so it seems impossible that he would be unable to tap into even a very small section of that market. And yet, against ludicrous odds for success, he fails anyway. His most recent film, BloodRayne, cost $30 million and made $2.5 million, not a great return. Boll has one sequel for BloodRayne already in the works, and is beginning funding projects for a third film. All his investors are reportedly German, and also apparently not too bright.
And his movies are not too-hip-for-the-room artsy flicks. All three of his video game adaptations are on IMDB's Bottom 100 Films list, and Rob Vaux once stated that his first adaptation, Alone In The Dark, should make all other bad movie directors feel better in comparison: "'It's okay,' they'll tell themselves, 'I didn't make Alone in the Dark.'"
This is the man who once rejected a proposed script adaptation for reasons that included "not enough car chases." This is the man who blames the poor commercial performance of his video game adaptations not on his own inability to direct, but on his distribution company, Romar, and has filed a lawsuit against them as a result. This is the man who, whenever he publicly expresses interest in making a movie out of a certain video game, the producers of that game have a press conference to announce "We would never let Uwe Boll do that. Ever." This is the man who sent an email to Wired after a nasty review of Postal, explaining that the reviewer didn't "understand anything about movies and that you are a untalented wanna bee filmmaker with no balls and no understanding what POSTAL is. you dont see courage because you are nothing. and no go to your mum and fuck her ...because she cooks for you now since 30 years ..so she deserves it." He explained later that he wasn't mad about the review, but just angry at the reviewer personally.
This is the man who gave all the critics who panned his movie the opportunity to fly out to his house, and - I'm serious here - box him. "Put up or shut up," said Boll. Incredibly, all five critics he specifically invited to fight him actually decided that they would. When film critics actually physically want to hurt you, and are willing to spend their own money in order to get at you, then yes, you are the worst director of all time. All five critics arrived expecting some sort of publicity stunt where they would take a few swings and get their pictures taken. Instead, Boll took each of them into the ring, one by one, and beat the snot out of all of them.
This is the man who directed this movie. How excited am I?
Uwe Boll movies are usually not particularly well cast, but this one is a stunner. Jason Statham stars as a lowly peasant pressed into great things by fate. Statham is, naturally, completely unfit for this role, but he's always said he's the sort of actor who's game for anything with a lot of action and sex in it, and this movie certainly seems to fit that category. I like Statham, so I won't fault him for this choice. Even though it's bound to set him back in Hollywood a bit, I don't think he cares. I only have pity for a man whose longtime girlfriend once broke up with him for Billy Zane. I'll let him have his nonsense role in this and I won't pick on him, even though he's playing a character named "Farmer Daimon," for chrissakes.
More amazing - breathtaking, really - is the presence of Ray Liotta as an evil magician. You might know Ray Liotta as the main character in Goodfellas, an excellent film that opened 17 years ago, or as Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams, which opened 18 years ago. You might also remember him in aggravating supporting roles in aggravating films like Heartbreakers, Operation Dumbo Drop, or Narc, with which he has bombarded us ever since. If that doesn't help, you might remember him from playing a mobster in every mobster film that's been released in the past 17 years, up to and including video games and documentaries (I could not have made that up. That is fact). You might even, unfortunately, remember him playing Frank Sinatra in that TV "Rat Pack" movie. Regardless of whether you remember him in any of those roles, but what is certain is that at no point in the last twenty years have you said to yourself "y'know, if you put a polo shirt and a leather bathrobe on that guy, he could be a killer evil magician named Gallian." You know how amazed I am at this? I'm even amazed that Uwe Boll thought of this. That's how amazed I am.
But not nearly as amazed as the idea of Burt Reynolds as the devilish King Konreid. I mean, I'm amazed at the idea of naming a character "King Konreid," but casting Burt Reynolds is beyond my ken. I think I have reasoned out Uwe Boll's thought process, though:
Master Director Uwe Boll: "Hey - who was the king in that Robin Hood movie?"
Whoever The Hell Uwe Boll Bounces Ideas Off Of: "Sean Connery."
MDUB: "Think we could get him to do this?"
WTHUBBIOO: "No. Lord, no."
MDUB: "Well, let's get someone who looks like him, then. Who looks like Sean Connery?"
WTHUBBIOO: "Uh... nobody, really."
MDUB: "Burt Reynolds kind of looks like him, right?"
WTHUBBIOO: "Not really, no. Not at all, actually. They both have whitish beards, though."
MDUB: "Good enough. C'mon, I bet we can this thing cast before this strip club closes."
I might have some of the phrasing off a little - it's possible Boll mentioned the name of the actual strip club they were attending - but that's certainly close.
Now, at this point, you must be saying to yourself, "isn't there some flailing young actress whose career has gone in the toilet who'll be willing to play the female lead just to get some sort of publicity, however putrid?" Well, then, you must be reading my mind, because this film also stars Leelee Sobieski.
"Leelee Sobieski?" you say. "Say, she was in... that movie a long time ago!" Right on! Sobieski once had a blossoming film career, from her Lolita-ish moment in the sun with Tom Cruise in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (note to parents: it would have been wise to stop letting your kids act in Stanley Kubrick movies), all the way to her Emmy nod for being Joan of Arc, Sobieski's career arrived in 1998 and disappeared in 2001. A string of brave failures (Les Liaisons dangereuses is always a gutsy call) combined with mindless flops (Joy Ride, The Glass House, and most painfully, with Nicholas Cage in The Wicker Man), Sobieski's career has descended to the point that she is now most famous for her disastrous performance on the Tonight Show of a poem she wrote about 9/11, entitled "This Day and all the Rest." Howard Stern likes to play the audio of this performance on his show whenever he's feeling down and needs a laugh. I honestly can't imagine an actress who needs a movie, any movie, more than Sobieski, with the obvious exception of Sean Young, or maybe Claire Forlani, who... wait... is actually in this movie as well.
You may be suspecting by now that while most actors would like to wash the taste out of their mouths after doing a Uwe Boll movie, surely somebody would be willing to stick it out and appear in more than one. Of course that person would also have to be crazy. Presenting Kristanna Loken.
Loken is best known for getting naked to play the most recent Terminator, the "Terminatrix" (clever!) in T3: Rise of the Machines, but you might remember her as one of the main characters in, yes, BloodRayne. She's also starred in such luminosities as Rise of the Nibelungs (who names these movies?) and the TV show based on the Mortal Combat game. A full 70% of her Wikipedia article concerns debate whether or not she is bisexual, which I think gives us a fairly accurate barometer of her acting chops. Naturally, she has also guested on The L Word (it may, in fact, be illegal in California to be a possibly lesbian actress in Hollywood and not appear on the show. We have seen no evidence to the contrary).
You might have realized by now that In The Name of the King is supposed to conjure up a certain other epic movie series concerning swords, kings, evil sorcerers, everyday people being called to quests, and big orc-like monsters fighting in the rain, but in case the trailer didn't give that away, there's an actual actor from The Lord of the Rings in this movie. Presenting John Rys-Davies, better known as Gimli! He seems to be playing a wise, sage-like advisor who guides Statham, Sobieski, and Loken on their quest, though it's possible he's simply been digitally cut out of the Rings movies and inserted here.
Finally, and most wonderfully, Matthew Lilliard is in this movie. Yes, Matthew Lilliard. The killer boyfriend in Scream. The street-smart hacker from Hackers. The man who made both Seth Green and Dax Shepard look like a serious thespians in Without A Paddle. And, of course, the man who made us gasp in disbelief at his picture-perfect interpretation of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. He's here too, playing a character named "Duke Fallow." My cup runneth over.
This trailer is sure to be the best minute and twenty-nine seconds of your day. Let me break this down for you, second-by-second:
:01 We get our first glance at Uwe Boll's logo, letting us know just what we're in for. The trailer company has chosen to let it only appear for .3 seconds, so that most viewers are hopefully still blinking and saying "wait, is this another trailer?"
:08 Shots of a bell tower ringing, orc-like things rustling in the bush, and Jason Statham looking bravely worried, and also looking like he spent about 14 seconds of preparation to look like a peasant. A voiceover of another character explains the situation - pillagers approaching - to somebody named "Crug." Crug is not in the cast list, so we can safely assume he'll die in this early battle.
:09 The first of many exact replicas of Lord of the Ring orc costumes appears on screen. The entire pillaging sequence continues for another five seconds, all of which is shot exactly as it appears in The Two Towers, including an exact match for the whirling overhead helicopter shot. That movie was a full five years ago, though, so I'm sure Boll can safely assume everyone's forgotten about it at this point.
:13 Our first shot of what I'm 85% certain is a rebuilt model of Minas Morgul, shot with slightly different lighting so no one will notice the similarities. The craning establishing shot is also the exact same as in Lord of the Rings. We also get our first bit of voiceover from Rhys-Davies, explaining, "I believe it was Gallian. He has fallen into madness," a line that seems obviously unoriginal and yet eerily prescient for this film. We also get our first shot of Ray Liotta, who has chosen to stick with the mobster hair for the film, looking like he has just suffered a concussion. Also, a shot of the flaming orc mines, which I am at least 90% sure was simply lifted from the Isengard sequence of The Two Towers directly. I'm not sure, at this point, what I find more alarming - that Boll is stealing so dramatically from the Rings movies or that he only seems to own the second one.
:17 Our first shot of the graphics, which is typed in the Papyrus font, all uppercase. "FATE... WILL CALL HIM." Someone was paid $10,000 dollars to do graphics that I could have done in 34 seconds.
:20 Jason Statham speaks for the first time. Brave choice, keeping that Cockney accent. But, I suppose that's what the character of Farmer Daimon would sound like, what with living out here in the wilderness.
:24 "ENEMIES... WILL SURROUND HIM." I'm trying to place which Rings movie the soundtrack is from at this point. I think that... yes, it's The Two Towers.
:26 Ray Liotta summons a great storm before him and sends it out against Statham. Hey, a Fellowship reference! Excellent!
:29 Rhys-Davies announces "the King has been poisoned." Ah, well, I guess we won't get that much Burt Reynolds in this one. That's disappointing.
:30 A shot of Liotta with a bunch of books flying wildly around him. I have tried to think up a logical explanation for this and failed.
:31 Rhys-Davies notes that "Gallian is raising armies. Vast armies." Four quick shots fly by, including one of orcs running in the rain that I'm seriously at least 98% sure is in fact lifted from The Two Towers. I am not kidding about this.
:35 "ALLIES... WILL JOIN HIM." Phew.
:37 Our first shot of Sobieski. She's wearing... yes... her Joan of Arc armor. Elvish people decend on large ropes that are supposed to look like vines but look quite patently like ropes. I am not hopeful for Statham at this point.
:38 Shots of Statham fighting hundreds of Uruk-hai all by himself. Those allies made it through less than a second of screen time. Statham is likely in real trouble at this point.
:39 Kristanna Loken, wearing Peter Pan hair, announces "Those who you fight - we will help you fight them," which is good, because it does appear that Sobieski and the elf-people are not going to be particularly useful. This is also helpful because Loken will be helping Statham fight those who he is fighting, as opposed to those who he is not fighting, which might have been the problem with that last group.
:42 "AND AN EPIC BATTLE... WILL BEGIN." Hopefully, against those with whom he is fighting.
:44 Rhys-Davies explains "A small force might slip through." Now that is an original idea. Shots of Statham and his A-Team walking along New Zealand-y mountaintops, then gathered gazing at a burning Minas Morgul. The music, thankfully, has switched over to "royalty-free standard trailer music."
:48 We get our first shot of Rhys-Davies actually talking, by which we can safely assume that at some point during the movie, he has an incredibly long scene of exposition to move us to the next part of the movie. Inexplicably, he has chosen to have Farrah Fawcett hair for this role.
:49 A low-angle shot of the Uruk-hai attacking Helm's Deep. 95% certain this is stolen.
:50 Quick shot of Ray Liotta levitating a sword in front of him, then fighting Statham in hand-to-hand combat with sword in hand. Liotta seems to be able to do a lot of showy magic but has yet to cause any actual damage with it. Perhaps he's merely an illusionist, or perhaps Boll hasn't figured out how to adapt special effects into an actual storyline. His expressions in these shots leads me to believe he's getting stoned before each shooting day, whatever the case.
:52 I discover that Brian White is in this movie as well. He used to play in the NFL, which is more than enough acting training for a Uwe Boll movie. He's also black, so, hey! Diversity! Boll strikes me as one of those directors who adds a black character just under the mistaken impression this will bring in gigantic black audiences, like Gary Dourdan on "CSI," except that the strategy doesn't work on "CSI." Also, Gary Dourdan is a really good actor, so that's another difference.
:55 Ray Liotta casts a spell at the camera. His face turns purple, and it looks like he's about to vomit. Is it possible that the climax of this movie will involve Liotta throwing a million ineffectual spells at Statham, then passes out? One can only hope.
:56 More books swirling, this time around Statham, as they seem to have caught him in a spinning tower of knowledge. It's like a spell from the Ben Franklin Little Book of Charms. How is this your go-to spell when fighting an arch-enemy? Harry Potter learned cooler spells in Herbology class.
:58 Statham notes that "The king called upon you to face death." I'd like to point out that the king is, in fact, dead at this point, so it's all really kind of moot, right?
:59 The Emperor sends Luke to the floor, screaming in pain at the blue lightning coming from his hands. It's official, Uwe Boll has seen more than two movies.
1:00 Our first shot of Matthew Lilliard, with an unimpressive beard, giving Brian White the bug-eyes. It appears Lilliard will be some sort of villain in this movie. All hail the evil Duke Fallow!
1:01 "IN THE NAME OF HONOR." No one involved in this movie has anything of the kind. C'mon guys, open up. You can admit it to yourselves. The sooner you come to terms with it, the less likely you are to break down in tears when Conan asks you what the hell you're doing in this movie.
1:02 Statham yells inspiringly "Tonight, we dress our wounds!" Who let these people get injured and not dress their wounds? What kind of terrible leader is this Farmer Daimon?
1:05 Random fighting shots. "...bury our dead!" continues Statham. William Wallace has nothing on this guy. Didn't Uwe Boll see Braveheart? How is it possible Uwe Boll did not see Braveheart?
1:06 "IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM." Ah, there's the shout-out.
1:08 "Tomorrow, we gouge evil from its shell!" Wait, so we aren't doing anything today? We're gonna wait 'til tonight, dress our wounds, bury our dead, then up bright and early to gouge evil from it's shell? Should we work on a good fight song or find Sobieski some armor that isn't from the 1400's or something?
1:09 Rhys-Davies appears to also be some sort of magician. He casts an invisible spell that does nothing. Its like all their sorcerers have an attack of -7.
1:10 Introducing Claire Forlani, peasant girl, with plunging neckline. In the meantime, it appears Sobieski has gotten new armor! It's gold, and has a gigantic silver cape. In the race to see who will lose more credibility in this movie, Forlani seems, sadly, to have pulled slightly ahead, even though that cape looks ridiculous.
1:11 Liotta seems to have crucified Statham on a wall of swirling books. Wait, is Statham perhaps a Christ figure in this movie? And are books a metaphor for... evil? What goes on in Uwe Boll's head?
1:15 "IN THE NAME OF THE KING - A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE." Some parts of the title are bigger than others, and the text glistens slightly, but it's still written in Papyrus. So, 3 minutes in Final Cut. That's another $25,000 down the drain.
1:26 "JANUARY 18TH 2008 - WWW.INTHENAMEOFTHEKING.COM." Sign me the hell up.
Here's a link to the trailer. Take a look, and be filled with wonderment. I'll see you in line.
In all serious, though, who's going? I am not showing up to this thing alone.