Brief note before we start: last July we got together and worked out a second class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly seven years since we started BMT and the films we had seen more than five years ago, in some cases, deserved a rewatch and reassessment. Over the next five weeks leading up to the fifth (seventh?) Smaddies Baddies we’ll bring you previews and Hall of Fame Speeches for the five films chosen. This is the first, for the Uwe Boll classic video game adaptation In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. The intention is to reminisce a bit about what we remember about the film, what we think of it now, and why it deserved a special place in BMT history. Enjoy!
Hall of Fame Induction Speech for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
For any BMT HoF film you can usually pinpoint one aspect of the film that made it a Hall of Famer. Battlefield Earth was the Icarus-like delusion of John Travolta. Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li is our introduction to our god and savior LudaChris Klein. Old Dogs is a plot so ridiculous that we cannot believe our eyes as we gaze upon its glory (oh… and also the Icarus-like delusion of John Travolta). For In the Name of the King it starts and ends with its cast. Statham (cool), Burt Reynolds (cooler), Matthew Lillard (coolest), Ray Liotta (hilarious scary mask face), and Leelee Sobieski (LEGEND). Read that list again. It’s incredible. Add on the fact that the film seems to be written by the 13-year-old Sklogs at the height of our LotR/Wheel of Time obsession and you’ve got gold.
As will be the case with all the BMT HoF films, it’s been five years since we watched this film. So let’s go through what I remember from that first viewing:
- I remember this being a rare film recommended to us, rather than a pick of our own.
- This is the only Uwe Boll film we’ve done. You would think he might have gotten a mention at the top, but we generally avoid directors/studios that purposefully wallow in the muck. When you have a Lillard/Liotta/Leelee starting rotation, though, you cannot be denied.
- It has the single greatest ad libbed line, flubbed ad libbed response, and editing decision we’ve witnessed on film. Lillard is looking on as his minions fight and casually says, “they fight like dogs,” to the extra standing next to him. The extra seemingly panics and haltingly says, “Yes sire,” in response… and Boll kept it in. It’s like when a boom mike falls into frame in a major motion picture. No excuse for it being in the film. It’s so great that I remember the line OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD FIVE YEARS LATER.
- Patrick completely predicted the ending. I did not. I blame my bad movie inexperience at the time.
- Terrible practical effects that made all the bad guys look less like LotR orcs and more like putties from Power Rangers.
I guess what I was most interested in for this rewatch was getting a better sense of the film in its entirety. I remembered that line, I remembered that cast, I remembered how the film looked, but I didn’t really remember how it felt watching the film… oh boy. I’m not sure we appreciated just how horrendously bad everything about this movie is. It’s like The Room mixed with Gods and Generals mixed with Strange Wilderness. The lines are so serious, but nothing makes sense. They are sentences made up of words spoken by actors on film, but they are embarrassing 100% of the time. On top of this the film is interminably long. It’s over 2 hours of this garbage nonsense. I stared in wonder hoping and pleading with the gods (and generals) to have the film move forward. JUST MOVE! GO FASTER! So overall I would say that I didn’t remember the film being so infuriatingly horrible. Does that make it a HoFer? Not by itself.
That would be this cast. We have everything. We have Leelee deadpanning every line like we know she can. God she’s good and this is already her third (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) BMT HoF film. That’s a 30% rate of return from our girl Leelee. And she’s not even done! She has a guaranteed first-ballot HoFer in next year’s class! Makes me think we need to look into The Glass House just to make sure we don’t have a hidden gem there. On the other side we have Lillard. He is off the chainz for almost the entirety of the film. It’s impressive, so impressive that his performance overshadows Liotta’s scary mask face and random acts of screaming.
Speaking of Lillard, we do have to discuss that line. It is just as glorious as I remember. Maybe even more so. As he sits on his horse viewing the battlefield Lillard smirks and delivers the famous, “They fight like dogs.” You distinctly see the extra look startled for a moment and pause just long enough to make it awkward before mumbling, “Yes, sire.” I used to think this was a product of Lillard ad libbing and the extra being taken off guard. On the rewatch I’m flipping that assessment. This is almost certainly a written line, after which Lillard looks at the extra. I think this look is what prompted the flubbed ad lib. It seems to me that Lillard looking at the extra made him think he was supposed to say something and after wracking him mind for a second he came up with a half-hearted, “Yes, sire.” Why do I think it’s written? Earlier in the film Lillard and the King get a report from the field stating that the Krug have taken up arms. Lillard scoffs at this saying that this report would be as if they were told that dogs had taken up arms, to which the soldier responds, “They fight like men.” When I heard that my monocle fell out of my eye and straight into the pâté I was eating, spilling my large glass of Pinot Noir. It is the moon to the “They fight like dogs” sun.
This film straddles the line for a bad film and a BMT film. It’s got the cast and looks of a film that exemplifies what we strive for in BMT, but it also has the length and lines of one where you want to strangle yourself to death to escape the misery. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and one that is encountered often in the very worst of the “popular” bad films. The Room, Troll 2, and Plan 9 From Outer Space all hinge on those moments of joy that people remember, the insanity of the lines, and the moments that make you believe that the artist responsible is nothing less than insane. In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale has all that, while also having the incredible boredom of everything else. It is a classic bad movie with moments of BMT excellence and is a type of bad movie worthy of representation in the Hall of Fame.