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Tuesday, 20 May
Nameless

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Well, I haven't actually seen any of those things. I did once see a monkey washing a cat, but that was the Daily Show, and another time I saw a guy light his hair on fire at a bar, but that was me. None of these things are important, however. Because this last weekend I saw In the Name of the King by noted auteur Uwe Boll. So it really is time to die.

I'm no stranger to the work of Mr. Boll, having previously seen cinematic uppercuts such as the grindingly dull House of the Dead and the operatically inchoate BloodRayne. (Twice a year I complain to my video store that they still haven't bought a copy of the really promising-looking Alone in the Dark.) I was expecting the goods. By which I mean the bads. By which I mean the good-bads.

In the Name of the King is neither good nor bad, and yet it is both at once. In the Name of the King is the Schrodinger's Cat of garbage movies; until watched, it remains in a state of quantum superposition, and then when it is watched, the waveform collapses right along with your body's hemodynamics, and as you die, you think, "My last moment on earth was spent watching this movie."

This is, after all, a movie that stars Jason Statham as a farmer named Farmer. Farmer's wife is Claire Forlani, and his best friend is Ron Perlman, both of whom look distinctly embarrassed by the events unfolding around them. Statham, however, is incapable of looking embarrassed; Statham is in fact incapable of looking anything other than vaguely pissed off in any role he's ever had. In every role to date, Statham resembles nothing so much as Surly from Duff Gardens.

The rest of the performances range from simply slumming to baying-at-the-moon psychosis. In the former category I'd put John Rhys-Davies, who was apparently on loan--much like several set pieces--from the LOTR movies and Burt Reynolds, who looks so uncomfortable in his role as the titular king that when his death scene arrives, he appears to plunge into that good night like a man easing himself into a warm jacuzzi. In the latter, you've got Ray Liotta, a man with a truly puzzling film career that has seemingly rested entirely upon his tight, thin-lipped grimace-grin; he's the evil magic-guy villain, and he's about as frightening as a bent Slinky. Topping him, however, is Matthew Lillard, whose performance as the drunken fop who aspires to the throne is approximately as nuanced as the Dresden firebombing; halfway through the movie I wondered if Jeffrey Koons had paid him five hundred bucks in order to claim Lillard's performance as his newest art installation.

Somwhere in the middle of this miserable pack were questionable entities such as Kristanna Loken as the leader of a group of fierce dryads who are impeccable vine aerialists, and the always dependably awful Leelee Sobieski, as usual deploying her blankest brand of marble-mouthed dialogue and weirdly stiff gait. Both of them lose points in the end; Loken for not taking off her tunic like she pointlessly did in BloodRayne and Sobieski for failing to get punched in the face by Nic Cage like she pointlessly did in The Wicker Man. Frankly, I expect more from these ladies.

Boll's approach to action sets here is typically and magisterially Bollean: in order for the actors to not have to learn anything more than rudimentary combat moves, he simply makes sure that each scene is edited to contain no more than two seconds of action at a time. That way, you can see Jason Statham wave his sword within three feet of a combatant, and in the next shot, a basketball covered with hair and ketchup is thrown into the air next to the boom mike, and then you get a cut of John Rhys-Davies eating some corn. In the meantime, there are ninja archers performing balletic moves before firing synchronized arrow shots directly towards the moon and Loken and her band of Cirque du Soleil vine-winders are all swooping up and down failing to fall out of their shirts. The overall effect is not unlike having a small child describe his fever dreams to you. "And then the demon snowmen showed up but Superman and Matt Damon beat them with their science fart machine."

Did I mention the cannon fodder that Our Heroes are constantly battling? They are called the Krugs, and they appear to be cripples with scoliosis outfitted in armor made of artichokes. Their main battle strategy seems to consist of hunching over, running in circles and waving their arms in the air, creating the interesting effect of appearing to be a maurading band of vegetable-based addled ravers.

I mustn't keep thinking about this movie. Watching this film is like self-administering the Ludovico technique.

I can't go on. I must go on. It seems it wasn't quite time to die, but I also don't see Godot anywhere on the horizon. So: nothing to do but keep talking to you.

Let me tell you about my mother.


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Comments

Ewe's done...questionable things. To say the least.

Comment number: 017346   Posted by: AndrewPDX on May 21, 2008 09:07 AM from IP: 216.151.21.87

I anxiously await the DVD arrival of Postal.

Comment number: 017347   Posted by: baij on May 21, 2008 10:54 AM from IP: 128.95.169.133

"And then the demon snowmen showed up but Superman and Matt Damon beat them with their science fart machine."

Have you pitched this to your man in Hollywood yet? If not, get crackin'!

Comment number: 017369   Posted by: Allie on June 2, 2008 12:48 PM from IP: 156.74.250.7

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