In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) Review

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In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)

~Review by Grawlix (April 2018)

Score: C

   So, in the interest of gaining some additional perspective after watching Warcraft, I decided to check out another sword and sorcery flick, somewhat lower on the critical totem pole. ItNotK:aDST (we’ll just call it Dungeon Siege from here on), was directed by the infamous Uwe Boll, perennial punching bag of film critics, video game fans, and virtually everyone in between. Though I’d seen bits of pieces of his other films, this might be the first time I’d watched one from beginning to end and I was determined to be impartial as possible.

   If you’ve ever wondered what a 60-million-dollar B-movie might look like, wonder no longer. Probably the most striking thing about Dungeon Siege is its pervading sense of cheapness. One might think that having two thirds the budget of LotR: Return of the King (and an additional four years of technology maturation) would produce a movie that’s at least two thirds as good, but one would apparently be mistaken. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this. We can start with the script, a steaming pile of trite clichés that screams first draft (supposedly it was rewritten extensively; I shudder to think what the actual first draft looked like). The cast, while containing a surprising number of recognizable names, seems to have been assembled largely based on availability (I doubt anyone rearranged their schedule to star in this) and for the most part, when they aren’t overacting, they’re emoting based on however they happened to feel at that given moment, though, to be fair, nobody alive could make some of those lines sound good (John Rhys-Davies, who also starred in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, gives one of the few consistently dignified performances).

   The action is… surprisingly entertaining. Most of the battle scenes are staged practically with little CGI and the Hong Kong based choreography is well suited to star, Jason Statham’s strengths. The Krug (think orcs) costumes look a bit too “suity”, mostly due to what appears to be a masks-over-makeup philosophy, but this is excused somewhat by knowing that there are actual people inside of them and the movie wisely chooses to avoid direct or sustained shots of the creature’s faces. The action scenes sometimes run a little too long and could be considered overdone in certain ways – the Cirque de Soleil style forest dwellers were an… inspired decision – but credit to the film for at least knowing its likely audience.

   Despite all the negative things I’ve written about Dungeon Siege, the movie was not the flaming train wreck that I’d been conditioned to expect. Factoring everything in, I’d call it aggressively mediocre. There are no sleeper performances here, but I wouldn’t say anyone’s stock dropped for the association either. Perhaps a more talented or respected director would’ve been able to build more out of the components (not to mention budget) used to create Dungeon Siege, but who can say? It’s faint praise, yes; the movie is ultimately forgettable. But considering that Boll’s efforts are usually memorable for all the wrong reasons, I’d consider that a win.

Final Score: C

Proof positive that throwing money at a problem will only get you so far. As an Uwe Boll film, it’s a triumph. As a film, it’s… watchable.


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