'In the Name of the King' isn't bad enough to enjoy

Special to The Times

Uwe Boll isn't the worst director in the world, but "In the Name of the King" might be more enjoyable if he were. A prolific producer of video-game adaptations, Boll has become a favorite whipping boy of Internet critics, who have cast him as a contemporary Ed Wood. But "In the Name of the King" fails to live up -- or down -- to Boll's reputation. Its convictionless competence is merely dull, denying the pleasures of an outright howler without providing much else.

Inspired, if that's the word, by the game Dungeon Siege, the movie is set in the pastoral kingdom of Ehb, whose delicate balance has been unsettled by a villainous sorcerer, played, improbably enough, by Ray Liotta, who seems almost as out of place as Burt Reynolds' graying king. Caught in the middle is a farmer, conveniently named Farmer (Jason Statham), who must battle his way through hordes of slimy, sword-wielding Krug to retrieve his captive wife (Claire Forlani).

With enough plots and subplots to fill a trilogy (say, one involving a certain piece of jewelry), "In the Name of the King" doesn't lack for action or intrigue, but Boll cuts so abruptly between parallel strands that it's difficult to follow any one of them. The movie is more frenzied than fantastic, without any perceptible rhythm or structure.

Apart from John Rhys-Davies, who can do ageless majesty in his sleep, the wildly disparate cast stumbles around looking lost.

Liotta's street-fight sneer and Leelee Sobieski's doe-eyed moping don't seem to belong in the same movie, let alone the same scene.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Boll already has three more movies under his belt. (The next, "Seed," is due at the end of the month.) With any luck, one of them will be bad enough to be truly great.

"In the Name of the King." MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences. Running time: 2 hours, 7 minutes. In wide release.

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