I experienced my first Uwe Boll film last night, and I have to say, despite the guy behaving like a complete tool on the Internet, if In The Name of the King is anything to go by, critics are a bit too hard on him. One thing he does seem to deliver is entertainment, although perhaps not of the kind he intended.
Now, time for a disclaimer here - I love trashy fantasy films. I like good ones too - Excalibur and The Lord of the Rings have a very prominent place in my relatively small DVD collection. At the same time however, I adore the belly laughs that the likes of Deathstalker and Hawk the Slayer can provoke. For me, there’s a dangerous middle ground between classy high-fantasy films, and trashy fantasy films - it’s ok to be great, but if you can’t manage that, don’t hold back - go nuts and aim for the completely ridiculous. Anyone who didn’t burst into fits of giggles when the Hawk the Slayer ‘magic effects’ start kicking in (involving silly string, glowing rubber balls and other classics) has no soul.
In The Name of the King doesn’t quite reach those heights, mostly because it actually has a budget, and the CG effects are actually pretty good in places, which is in danger of distracting you from the rest of the silliness. Luckily their budget didn’t go that far, and they had to rely on guys in rubber suits for the main enemies, which Uwe inexplicably chose to shoot in broad daylight for much of the film, thereby reducing the effect to something out of Power Rangers - on the entertainment scale, this is a plus point. I also loved how despite needing to do battle scenes, they didn’t have that many extras, so did wide-angle shots with obviously CG duplicated ranks of soldiers interspersed with close ups transparently chosen so you couldn’t see more than 10 people at a time. 😀
Somehow the film contains a large number of recognisable faces, like Ron Perlman, John Rhys Davies, Ray Liotta and Burt Reynolds, but the plot they’re given is laughable and full of holes, which is of course half the fun. Throw in a few random elements like ‘forest women’ swinging madly about on magic vines, and the king’s personal guard who appear to have been lifted with no explanation directly from the extras of Crouching Tiger, and some thoroughly absurd stunts that make Legolas’ Oliphant surfing look frankly plausible, there’s plenty to chuckle at.
It’s not a ‘good’ film, but a film doesn’t have to be good to be entertaining. Quite the opposite in fact - overreaching tat can deliver some damn good fun sometimes. I say stuck-up critics should get off their high horses and stop giving Boll such a hard time, we need more trashy game/fantasy films to laugh at.