Following every blockbuster-film merchandising bonanza, cut-rate toy stores and Goodwill outlets fill up with toys that only bear a vague resemblance to characters from the movies that most Goodwill shoppers didn't have the money to take their children to in the first place. It takes a great deal of imagination to make these crude lumps of plastic stand in for the real thing. Uwe Boll's In The Name Of The King is basically the crude-lump-of-plastic version of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy: It's an off-brand sword-and-sorcery epic that cuts so many corners, it's probably a safety hazard. Here's the problem: It costs just as much (or more) to see In The Name Of The King as it did to see the Lord Of The Rings movies, so where are the savings?
Based on a video game, like much of Boll's work, the film opens with a marauding band of animalistic orcs (pardon, "Krug") laying siege to Middle Earth (excuse me, "Ehb") at the behest of an all-seeing evil sorcerer named Saruman (sorry, "Gallian"). When the Krug kidnap his wife (Claire Forlani) and murder his son, humble turnip farmer Jason Statham embarks on an epic quest to get her back—a quest that requires a certain, um, gladiator-like skill to accomplish. Meanwhile, the King Of Ehb, played by a beard-stroking Burt Reynolds, tries to rally his army against Gallian (Ray Liotta) and the overwhelming Krug forces, but his sniveling, power-hungry drunk of a nephew, played by Matthew Lillard, undermines his plans. The King turns to Gandalf stand-in Merick (played by actual LOTR castmember John Rhys-Davies), but Merick's naïve daughter (Leelee Sobieski) has unwittingly had her powers siphoned off to Gallian. Also joining Boll's typically nutty cast list is Lady Terminator/Bloodrayne star Kristanna Loken, leading a deadly tribe of scantily clad, vine-swinging forest nymphs.
Cultists will be happy to discover that In The Name Of The King bears all the so-bad-it's-good hallmarks of a classic Boll production: A bizarre ensemble cast of fallen stars and incorrigible hams, with the bug-eyed Lillard a standout for his fey treachery; the stunning vistas of non-union locales (here, British Columbia); clumsily patched-in CGI backdrops; hilariously stilted dialogue; and action sequences as tightly choreographed as a demolition derby. Operating by a charitable loophole in the German tax system, Boll has been compared to Ed Wood, but there's nothing personal about his ineptitude; he's just a deal-maker completing a transaction. Save perhaps for his fan club of ironists, movies like In The Name Of The King could only make a ledger happy.