Someone recently released a petition urging Uwe Boll to give up directing movies forever. Boll said that if a million people sign it, he'd do so. The petition is currently at 287,000 signatures. Boll responded by pointing out "I'm the only genius in the whole fucking business," and asked his fans to launch a petition in support of him.
So there's now also one supporting Boll, currently at 5,000 signatures, that says they'd like him to continue making movies, just so they can laugh at them.
Boll has also said he'll box anyone who signs the first petition, just to teach them a lesson about how great he is. After all, Boll points out, "I'm way better than all that social-critic, George Clooney bullshit what you get every fucking weekend." Truly, one of the great minds of our generation. Boll has also compared himself positively to both Michael Bay and Eli Roth, and for once in my life, let me come to Bay and Roth's defense - there is no frickin' way Uwe Boll is better than either of those directors. And it hurts me deeply to say that.
Still, Boll has offered us a challenge, saying "if you really look at my movies you will see my real genius, you know?" So let's do that. Let's take a journey into the mind of Uwe Boll, and see if we find anything. Anything at all.
(For the record, while you're reading - if you do read this rather than gasping at the length and clicking away - the predictions I make along the way about who dies where and how - I didn't go back and change those. I really am that good. Or Boll really is that bad. Either way.)
Uwe Boll’s name comes up.
Uwe Boll’s name comes up again.
Ray Liotta is in bed with Leelee Sobrieski, spouting truly terrible dialogue. He leans in and kisses her, and a bad special effect shows him sucking out her magic with his mouth. We aren’t even two minutes into the film and it’s already apparent that the filmmaker has no idea what he’s doing. I turn on subtitles so as not to miss a word.
Statham turns down a chance to join the army while sitting at the dinner table with his family. Everyone is conveniently sitting on one side of the table, like in a sitcom. Boll seems to follow the filmmaker’s rules about axis of action with the slavish devotion and simple mindedness of a first year television student. There’s a square-headed actor who seems vaguely familiar but I can’t place. I make a mental note to later to Google “block-headed actors.”
Statham and his little kid have a moment.
Statham: “When men build lives from honest toil.”
Cute Kid: “Courage never fails.”
It’s about time to check out and see if Uwe Boll wrote the script himself or not.
A quick IMDB search proves that In The Name of the King is actually written by three people, who between them have a total of one movie writing credit – a horror film from 1989 (!) called The Carpenter, whose plotline is “a carpenter, executed in the electric chair, comes back to finish his dream house, now inhabited by a young married couple.”
The Tagline: “He's Turning Their Dream House Into A Nightmare!”
The dialogue continues to live up to the writers’ remarkable resume.
Statham: “Be safe”
Claire Forlani: “It’s Stonebridge. Of course we’ll be safe”
Dun dun dum! The orchestra moves into the Foreshadowing Movement.
Countdown to family getting attacked – 7 minutes.
Odds of kid dying – two to one.
Odds of wife getting kidnapped – even money.
You know how in those NFL pregame shows, someone makes a smart-aleck comment and everyone overlaughs for 15 seconds? That’s how every group conversation in this movie goes. I think it’s to show how much these characters care for each other, but it mostly just makes me want to throttle them.
Statham is attacked by what appears to be a cross between a dung beetle and Ninja Turtle, yet is also clearly a man in a leather costume. It’s like their costuming department is taking castoffs with “Doctor Who.”
First really bad special effects shot following a thrown weapon until it hits its target. Prediction of times that will happen in the movie: 6.
Statham runs INTO a burning barn to fight more Dung Turtles, which are apparently called Krugs. I don’t know why people are so concerned about these things since they light a barn on fire and then fight inside it.
We see our first shot of the Krugs attacking the town where Forlani and the cute kid are. Right on schedule.
16:00 Matthew Lilliard swaggers into a scene, drunk and whiny. It’s difficult to tell if this was a career choice or a bad morning for him. He seems to be holding his “Billy, you stabbed me too deep!” face from Scream throughout this whole movie.
Midway through our third poorly-choreographed action scene, we realize that the Dung Turtles are all being controlled by Liotta through his powerful sorcery. Liotta is wearing a sequined ascot to mark the occasion.
Statham kills a Dung Turtle, causing Liotta physical pain. Liotta chooses this as a moment to break the fourth wall as he speaks vaguely in the direction of the camera to say “Well done. A man with spirit, huh?” The last shreds of Goodfellas respectability vanish before my eyes.
21:45 The cute kid is running in slow motion through the battlefield away from the Dung Turtles. Odds of kid dying in the next two minutes are now at even money.
22:00 The Dung Turtles start retreating. We see shot after shot of Dung Turtles streaming up the hillside.
Someone suddenly yells “Look! They’re retreating!”
Kid dies, offscreen. Because killing him onscreen would just make this film tacky. Now paying off even money on Cute Kid dying.
Statham and a Random Buff Dude Who Will Die In 45 minutes have their “I will avenge the dead and find my wife"/"I’m coming with you” conversation, followed by Statham and Blockhead having their “I’m coming with you"/"Stay here, old man” conversation. The scene ends with this exchange:
Statham: “Do you have a horse?”
Buff Dude: “A mare. She’s old, but still strong.”
Blockhead: “Old.” He pounds himself on the chest “But still strong.” Exit left.
I keep thinking I will find funny things to say about each piece of dialogue, but instead I just end up typing it up and saying "y'know, I think the exchange pretty much speaks for itself."
Gimli and Statham have their “you can help the King"/"I don’t owe the King anything” scene, which finishes with this exchange.
Gimli: “Does it occur to you, Farmer, that there may be events of greater importance than the loves and losses of our particular lives?”
Statham: “No, it doesn’t occur to me.” Exit right.
I'm still dumbfounded.
Statham, Blockhead, and Buff Dude slide across a rope spanning a massive canyon, which Boll wisely chooses to play as a slapstick moment so that we grow to love and root for these characters. It finishes with Blockhead and Buff Dude falling 200 feet into a boulder strewn river, where they suffer no injuries.
Lilliard starts groveling. Impossibly, he suddenly becomes even less attractive. A friend of mine met Lilliard once and told me that he’s boorish and arrogant in real life, as of course the second lead in Without A Paddle should be.
Ray Liotta magicks himself into Sobrieski’s bedroom
Sobrieski: “Gallian! Must you always appear so suddenly from nowhere?”
Liotta: “I don’t. I appear so suddenly… from somewhere.”
Ha ha! Banter!
Lilliard appears again, drunk, effeminate, and groveling. My stomach’s turning, I’m going for a Coke.
I return from the kitchen to see Lilliad drunk, effeminate, groveling, and now additionally eating messy food with his bare hands, all at the same time. I put my head between my knees to try to get some blood to rush back into my head.
One solid minute of exposition about how the forest Statham, Blockhead, and Buff Dude are in is haunted and dangerous.
The three are captured and hung upside down by magical vines, like the Ewok trap in Star Wars, except, y’know, magic. Enter Kristinna Loken and the People of the Woods, who seem mostly to be extremely made-up females wearing outfits that accentuate their cleavage. It’s like the opening to a porn version of Robin Hood.
Bad SFX shot following a thrown weapon #2.
Lilliard is now sweating, openly weeping, and groveling. Liotta tells him “don’t be so melodramatic,” the first line from this movie that I would not have cut.
Whenever something magic happens for which the producers can’t spend money on special effects for, they instead have the score swell sharply upwards, with a “whoop-de-whoop-whoop!” Sort of like a medieval “I Dream of Jeannie.” It’s both disorienting and baffling.
Lilliard leads the army out of the castle
Lilliard: “Prepare to move to the north, where we shall meet our new allies.”
Army Commander: (politely) “Why has Commander Tarish not briefed us for this mission?”
Lilliard kills the commander with a knife.
Lilliard: “Anyone else care to commit treason?”
Wait, what just happened? This is why it's a bad idea to be a minor character in these sorts of movies, the ratio between having a single line and dying a pointless death must be awfully close to 1:1.
47:20 Gimli and Sobrieski have a father-daughter heart-to-heart.
Gimli: “You have tilted the balance of magic in his favor. Thanks to you, the kingdom may be lost.”
Sobrieski: (without emotion) (obviously) “I’m sorry.”
And.... end scene!
See? It’s not an action movie, it’s really about the relationships that define us and make us who we are.
Statham, Blockhead, and Buff Dude sneak through the Dung Turtles camp using the Star Wars two-guys-in-costumes-transporting-a-prisoner trick. I can’t believe even the villains of a Uwe Boll movie would fall for this one.
Now that he’s in a big Dung Turtle costum, I’ve figured out who Blockhead is. It’s a seriously slumming Ron Perlman, best known as Hellboy or The Beast in the live-action Beauty In The Beast. I guess I had to see him in a giant costume before I could figure it out. The transporting-a-prisoner trick doesn’t work, possibly because the Dung Turtles have already seen Star Wars. God knows Boll has.
A Dung Turtle strings a barely-conscious Statham up, then attempts to stab him while he’s suffocating, enabling him to roundhouse kick the Turtle and escape. Why can no one ever be satisfied with just hanging someone? Why are roundhouse kicks always so effective in these sorts of movies? Why am I asking so many questions about subjects that none of the filmmakers have ever thought through?
Clare Forlani learns that Cute Kid has been killed, followed by 90 full seconds of some of the worst acting in the history of cinema. The other actors rather blatantly avoid eye contact to try to keep from laughing.
We discover that Liotta is keeping a monstrous underground system of caverns populated by prisoners and Dung Turtles in the back of his library, which you’d think the cleaning staff would have notice by now. He enters it now and laughs evilly. “It’s good to be home.” Really? You’re taking over the kingdom and you want to hang out around molten metal with the Dung Turtles?
Entering the No-Surprise shocker zone: Statham turns out to be Burt Reynolds’ son! He’s heir to the throne instead of Matthew Lilliard!
Burt Reynolds Death Clock: 17 minutes.
Reynolds has his big “I thought he was dead!” scene with Gimli, which he phones in until he gets to the line “what kind of joke do the gods play on me?” His line reading of which clearly states “how did my career get to the point that I’m in this movie?” He does everything except look directly into the camera and cry.
Statham decides to join the king’s army after much begging, despite Statham having no army training, or really anything to recommend him whatsoever.
Close up on weapon being thrown #3. I’m gonna win this one, I think.
Statham, bafflingly, seems suddenly to be in charge of most of the army. He and Brian Grant, the only actor who has yet to do something laughable, have dismounted their horses right before the battle. ‘Cause, of course, in a battle, a horse is not going to help you any.
The Dung Beetles have seemed to have developed the ability to tunnel under the earth and grab people by their legs, a trick they probably learned by watching Tremors.
In the midst of battle, Statham does a wild, unnecessary backflip, possibly to prove that he deserves to be in charge of the army, mostly just to get some stunt guys a little extra pay.
Reynold’s army seems to have several fighting divisions who just do flips and climb trees and wear funny masks and such. There’s a large calvary behind them, but no one is bothering to send them in, since the divisions that do flips apparently have things under control. Once again, for the record, I'm not a military expert but in a battle with swords and clubs, horses can sometimes help.
Several Dung Turtle light themselves on fire and launch themselves on catapults towards the other army. This strategy seems to kill maybe one soldier for every two Dung Turtles it kills. If the king’s army had more calvary and less flipping-soldiers, this fight would be just about done.
Grant and Statham figure out who the leader is and fight their way to him. This naturally involves several backflips, somersaults, and wild leaps. I’ve seen rhythmic gymastic sessions that were less obviously choreographed and considerably more masculine.
Close up on weapon being thrown #4
Close up on weapon being thrown #5
Close up on weapon being thrown #6. Victory! Burt Reynolds is killed by this one. If only we’d established a clear heir for his succession sometime recently…
Forlani, Blockhead, and Buff Dude are taken to the underground metal working lair. Blockhead looks out at the slaves and mutters “I won’t live like them.”
Ron Pearlman death clock: 4 minutes
A fun exchange in the forest between Sobrieski and Lilliard.
Lilliard: “You never did trust me, did you, Muriella?”
Sobrieski: “Your comportment has never earned trust.”
Lilliard: “Comportment? Decorum? These are words for a castle! We are no longer in a castle!”
Uh, no one said “decorum,” dude, you made that one up.
Lilliard is attacked by magical vines, and unfortunately does not die.
Ron Pearlman is attacked by Dung Turtles, and unfortunately, does. Fortunately, his death is a sacrifice that lets the others escape! Surely they’ll make it to the mouth of the cave safely and get away!
The group is re-captured by the Dung Turtles. Damn.
Statham and Reynolds have their deathbed “you will be king, it is your destiny” moment, which finishes with Reynolds saying:
“Wisdom is our hammer
Prudence will be our nail.”
Emerson, right? Or Wordsworth, maybe.
It finishes with:
Reynolds “When men build lives from honest toil”
Statham: “Courage never fails.”
Aww, they are father and son! They know the same slogan!
Reynolds and Statham talk about farming and enriching soil for a while.
This deathbed conversation will not end. Blah blah honor blah faith blah blah my son blah blah remember.
Reynolds finally dies. Everything goes into slow motion as the score moves into the Unimportant Character Death Suite.
Lilliard and Grant fight a duel to the death. Lilliard is back to his old drunk, effeminate self, so the odds seem to lie in Grant’s favor.
Odds of Lilliard throwing dirt in Grant’s eyes: 1 in 3.
Lilliard tells a story about how he always beat Grant when they fought as boys, in order to somehow convince us that he has a fighting chance here, which no one will ever believe.
Even better than the dirt trick: Lilliard throws his armor at Grant’s head. I take it back, I will be sad when Lilliard dies in this movie, which I don’t think will be for at least another 15 minutes, if at all. He might instead be humbled and dragged effeminately off to jail, with Statham muttering a last one-liner after him.
Lilliard’s most homoerotic moment so far: when it’s announced that the king has died, Lilliard thinks that he’s king. He flails his arms wildly for a moment, then limp-wristedly taps Grant’s sword three times and scolds him teasingly: “Put. It. Away.” I’m beginning to think that Lilliard just sort of decided after a couple days of shooting “y’know, I’m just gonna go ahead and make this guy gay.”
Liotta divines with his magic that Forlani is pregnant with Statham’s son. I’m mostly pregnant with disbelief that this is somehow a major plot point, since Forlani is playing Statham’s wife, and this piece of news is less “Oh! Their one night of passion has created a child” and more “Oh, they’re gonna have another kid, that’s nice for them.”
Buff Dude meets another slave, who is clearly a model with a thin layer of dirt smudged on her face. They bond, and Buff Dude promises to get her home soon, a gutsy move by a guy chained hand and foot. I no longer think Buff Dude is gonna die by the end of this movie, which is shocking because Buff Dude is the only non-slumming big name actor in the movie, and we’ve already killed off Reynolds, Perlman, and the Cute Kid. He must be important in some other way. To the internet!
A quick search reveals that Buff Dude is actually Will Sanderson, who’s had the unfortunate privilege of being in all of Uwe Boll’s movies so far. Poor bastard deserves to live to the end of the movie, he’s probably getting paid on a day rate anyway.
While on IMDB, I check out the rest of the cast. The girl Buff Dude has bonded with turns out to be the girl in the tub from Slither. Her hairstyle is less medieval maiden and more a version of The Rachel from 1997.
Liotta and Forlani are having one of those “You have me, so why don’t you free my friends?"/"I can’t, I’m much too evil” arguments. It’s like a clinic of bad acting. If I had my way, this scene would never end.
I am trying to think of a single good movie Forlani has been in and failing.
Liotta is using his magic to make it rain, for reasons that are unclear. A wet, awkward Dung Turtle siege ensues.
Gimli announces his intention to go and “reason” with Liotta. Gimli Death Clock: 4 minutes and under.
Mallrats. That's right. 13 years ago, Forlani was one of the love interests in Mallrats.
Here’s a fun bit of Dungeon Siege canon we just learned: a mage’s power is contingent on his service to the king. So in order to battle the king, Liotta made himself king of the Dung Turtles. While he’s laughing evilly at his cleverness, I’m wondering why Gimli doesn’t just make himself king of the lemurs or something in order to up his power.
Liotta delivers his killer line: “you have no idea how powerful madness can be.” His eyebrows are going everywhere. Liotta and Gimli are sword-fighting with hovering magic-swords, just to paint a picture in your mind.
Close Up On Thrown Weaopon #7. Incredibly, I’ve UNDERestimated this.
Gimli is stabbed through the heart. He’s still gasping, so it seems he’ll get a chance to have a heart to heart with Statham or Sobrieski by the end.
Liotta leans close to the dying Gimli “In my kingdom, there will be no word for madness, we shall simply call it – power,” an idea that makes no sense even by the ridiculous standards of this movie.
The Dung Turtles are pointless firing themselves in catapults at the enemy again, though at least this time they have the sense not to set themselves on fire first.
Dying, Gimli gives the last of his magical power to Sobrieski. For 10 full seconds, it’s a special effects crapfest. Sobrieski’s actorly interpretation of “this is what my face would look like if I was absorbing the rest of my father’s magic powers” is a sight to behold.
The score goes swiftly from Unimportant Character Death to Let’s Get This Movie Moving in under a second. This composer is ready to be done.
Bored with being chained to the wall, Buff Dude suddenly pulls his chains out of the rockface with his bare hands and kills some Dung Beetles with them. I’m speechless.
Loken, who was chosen for the crack fighting team - did I mention that they put together a crack fighting team? Statham, Gimli, Loken, and Sobrieski - really, all the people you'd want at your back in a fight, huh? Anway, she never made it to the battle and we now see a shot of her walking back home, her story apparently finished. Of all the baffling choices Boll’s made, this is the first one that’s made no sense WHATSOEVER.
Liotta and Statham’s fight has started using - yes! - The Matrix's bullet-time effects, just like you knew it would.
Close-Up on a Thrown Weapon #8. This is getting insane.
Liotta has now attacked Statham with a tornado made out of books. I have now reached the point where I no longer find these bad special effects funny, and just want Liotta to say his last line about power or madness or whatever and die with one last wild eyebrow twitch.
One of the generals from the army, who we’ve seen maybe once before, is killed. Grant screams “No!” in a Luke Skywalker/Frodoish fashion and tries to fight his way over. Bored with these deaths, the composer doesn’t even bother to let the score swell. The strings continue their way through the repetitious We’re Almost Done movement.
Liotta lets all the books fall to the floor, mercifully ending a maestrom of bad special effects. Statham seems undamaged by the attack, which really only held him up ten feet off the floor for two minutes so he could catch his breath. Requisite shot of Forlani huddled in the corner, looking scared.
Liotta starts the tornado up again, this time trapping Stathams ankles and wrists with books, pinning him to… nothing. This is the exact same strategy as last time, though Statham tries to sell it by straining and grimacing. Frankly, Statham's tried to sell this whole movie through grimacing, and it may be time to admit that his permanent grimace has very little to do with his acting method and more a physical pain derived from being in this movie.
Liotta screams at Statham “What vengence are you enjoying, Farmer? The vengence of a father? The vengence of a husband? Or the vengence of a king?” Sobrieski comes in and throws some sort of vague magic at the tornado. Liotta throws some sort of vague magic at Sobrieski. Nothing seems to do anything. These really are the worst magicians in history.
Forlani screams “You forgot the vengence of a mother!” and stabs Liotta with a sword. Best. Line. Ever.
Statham falls out of the tornado and slashes at Liotta. He completely misses – and I mean, completely misses - but Liotta scrunches his face up into the Death Look. Even his vague Field Of Dreams credibility is gone now.
Liotta pretends his throat’s been cut and falls out of frame. Sadly, it doesn’t look like he’s gonna get to give us one last line reading.
Robbed of their powers, all the Dung Turtles stop fighting. We cut back to Statham and Forlani embracing over the slain body of Ray Liotta, which is as romantic a place as I can imagine, too. We pan to the window, where the sun comes out. Fade to black.
Uwe Boll's name comes up again.
Well, there we have it. A two-hour journey into the mind of the man who doesn't give us the social-critic, George Clooney bullshit, but instead gives us works of what he considers to be true genius. Let's go over what we've learned:
1. Love conquers all, sometimes.
2. Some people can deliver good performances despite the director, some people need good direction, but no one survives a Uwe Boll movie unscathed.
3. Prudence is our nail.
4. When Uwe Boll rules the world, there will be no word for "madness," only "power." This does not seem unreasonable considering the first part of that sentence.
5. If Boll asks you to deliver one line in a movie for him, pass. You'll spend one take saying the line and 14 takes filming getting stabbed by another character at the end of your line.
6. There are limits to what you can do with men in leather suits, and there are limits to what you can do with CGI, but there are no limits if you don't care how either of those things look in the final cut.
7. Don't get close enough to someone where they can roundhouse kick you. That's a rookie mistake. Just keep your distance, no matter what. This includes people who are probably dead.
8. All in all, I would rather have watched the Robin Hood porno.