Friday, March 1, 2013

Anybody have a plan?

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2006)
I've never watched an Uwe Boll film before this.  I've not actively avoided him or anything, he's just never made anything I've had any interest in watching.  I've even played the games he's made films about, and it's therein that his most important contribution to cinema lies:  He has decisively and comprehensively proven that, as a rule, video games don't translate to movies at all well.  I'm not talking about excellent video game homage movies like Wreck-it Ralph, but crap like like Dungeon Siege, House of the Dead, Far Cry, or BloodRayne.  So rather than dump on him, we should be thankful that he's repeatedly gone to such great lengths to make that point.  Well played, Mr Boll.

Director reputation aside, I knew I was in for a rough one when I saw this was rated nearly as low on IMDB as Batman & Robin.  That feeling did not improve when freaking Ray Liotta makes an early appearance, shortly followed by a very confused-looking Burt Reynolds.  Shit.  Shitshitshit.  Made it 7 minutes in before I quit for the day.  Made it a further hour in the next day, paused to get a snack at what I presumed was the ending climatic battle sequence, only to discover there was another entire hour left!  You have got to be joking.  So, in a moment of despair, I quit for the day and again seriously questioned whether I really need to watch all of these movies or not.  Can't I just skip ahead to Crank, which I'm fairly sure I'll enjoy?  No, no, let's press on.  I can still do this.  I at least get to stare into Claire Forlani's eyes a fair bit.

It's hard to fully encompass all the things that don't work well in this.  Let's just highlight a few "memorable" moments:  The wire work was some of the worst I've seen in any movie.  So bad that the Amazon chicks swinging through the forest made the damn monkey scene in Crystal Skull seem well-made and plausible by comparison.  At worst bad movie scores, are generally forgettable or occasionally distracting.  If only that were the case here.  No, this score leaps out and musically yells "Boo!" or "Fuck you!" at you again and again.  It's very much as if the musical score is intended to distract you from the crap quality of the movie by being noticeably worse.  We finish things off with a very Freudian moment in the final showdown where the hero is attacked by that which Uwe Boll undoubtedly fears most:  Books.

Okay, so the movie sucks.  Quite badly at that.  Moving on...  How was Statham?  His combat sequences are excellent.  His sword work is so fast and powerful, I'd be amazed if there weren't nearly as many injured stuntmen on this as on Conan.  Unfortunately, there isn't enough going on story-wise to make you actually care about any of the combat sequences, so aside from a brief moment of "cool!", they're completely forgettable.  Other than that, Statham seems largely bored and going through the motions.  He's still got excellent screen presence, but his director obviously couldn't keep him involved enough for it to matter.

Baddassery Quotient - 6
Statham's actually quite menacing through most of this and the combat sequences are generally well-executed, but not a lot of variety to be had.  Also not much in the way of clever dialogue and the unassuming farmer bit really doesn't play to his strengths.  Had to knock a few points off for silly use of a boomerang as a viable combat weapon.  It's all well and fine when he uses it to scare crows away, but when he bounces it off 4 different baddies, it's just distracting.

Rewatchability - No thanks
It's sort of tossup which is less rewatchable between this and Batman & Robin.  Batman & Robin's certainly over-the-top offensive, but this one fails to execute on pretty much every level.  So let's just call that a tie.  If you've not seen this, there is absolutely no point in watching it.  I don't care what reasons you tried to concoct, just don't.

Next up - Crank!  Hopefully a breath of fresh air to clear out the foul stench of this sucker.  I remember hearing about it and another one I have no idea why I didn't see.  Seems like it will be one that's back to playing to Statham's strengths by going over-the-top and keeping tongue planted firmly in cheek.

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