Sticking to video-game adaptations but toning down the gore for a PG-13 rating and thus a wider potential audience, German director Uwe Boll, notorious for challenging his harshest critics to 10 rounds in a boxing ring, uses his biggest budget ever—$60 million—to produce a cheap knockoff of The Lord of the Rings, complete with an Orc-like army of beasts called Krug, elfin woodland beings, and a wizard-esque magus played by John Rhys-Davies (aka Gimli), but without a comprehensible plot.
Jason Statham affords himself well as the modest, peace-loving Farmer who puts down his plow and picks up his, uh, boomerang when his young son is killed and wife kidnapped. (As Solana, Claire Forlani is the first of several puzzling casting moves—that is, why an actress of her relative respectability would even consider, let alone accept, such a B-grade role.) Childless, King Konreid’s (Burt Reynolds—again, huh?) reign is vulnerable to the clumsy political machinations of his nephew Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard, more cartoonish here than even in Scooby-Doo ), who has joined forces with the magically inclined Gaillian (Ray Liotta—I am not making this up) who commands his Krug forces from the eye of a black tornado (think the Wicked Witch of the West’s crystal ball on steroids).
Why, once he believes he’s poisoned the king, Fallow leads two-thirds of the royal army to join forces with the Krug—to fight whom, exactly, at that point isn’t clear, as he’s ostensibly in command of the kingdom already, right?—is just the most egregious flaw in logic. Boll is capable of fanciful compositions, particularly when photographing the Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic forest dwellers led by Kristanna Loken. But with no clear sense of the scope or stakes of the conflict and too little time spent with able action star Statham and his formidable furrowed brow, the battles scenes are tedious and ultimately just silly (a single line of archers fills the entire sky with arrows, a la, while we’re at it, 300 ).
Cast: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies, Matthew Lillard, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski, Will Sanderson, Brian J. White, Kristanna Loken and Burt Reynolds
Director: Uwe Boll
Screenwriter: Doug Taylor
Producers: Shawn Williamson and Dan Clarke
Genre: Fantasy action adventure
Rating: PG-13 for intense battle sequences
Running time: 124 min.
Release date: January 11, 2008