A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an epic fantasy adventure in the style of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Despite the overwhelming number of negative reviews, tweens -- especially boys -- may want to see it, partly thanks to English action star Jason Statham (The Transporter). There are several intense, violent battles between orc-like creatures and the kingdom's army and civilians, but very few bloody deaths (it's obvious that many, many people die, but it's not graphic). The sexual content is limited to three or four kissing scenes between two couples -- two of which occur in a bed. The language is remarkably tame, and, this being a fantasy flick, there are no product tie-ins.
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What's the story?
English action star Jason Statham (The Transporter) stars in this low-rent Lord of the Rings-style epic that somehow lured Gimli himself (John Rhys-Davies) to sign on as Merlin-esque king's wizard Merick. Statham plays a farmer named Farmer (he believes you are what you do) who's living a pretty idyllic country life. But when the rogue wizard Gallian (Ray Liotta, cranking up the crazy) unleashes an army of orc-like creatures to destroy the kingdom, Farmer's wife is kidnapped and his son is killed. Bent on revenge, Farmer joins the king's (Burt Reynolds) troops and proceeds to single-handedly defeat Gallian's gruesome fighters.
Is it any good?
It's not just that the movie's production values are low -- which is surprising, since German filmmaker Uwe Boll reportedly had a $60 million budget -- it's that nothing works. Least of all Statham, who's as charismatic here as a block of cheddar. At least the supporting players -- like Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman as Farmer's mentor, and Brian White as the king's general -- make the most of their laughable lines. And Liotta is surprisingly funny in lunatic mode. But Leelee Sobieski, who once seemed poised for a leading-lady career, is dull as Gallian's ex-girlfriend -- who happens to be Merick's daughter and fellow sorceress.
In the Name of the King's similarities to the Rings films are so obvious (almost frame-for-frame in certain shots) that you have to wonder whether Peter Jackson will get royalties for Boll's mess. But as the second hour closes in (it's a nearly unbearable 124 minutes long), some moviegoers may find themselves laughing -- unintentionally, of course. If you don't mind movies that are so bad they're entertaining in their awfulness, this is a fine pick. Just don't say you weren't warned.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this film was influenced by The Lord of the Rings movies. In addition to the presence of John Rhys-Davies (who played Gimli in Rings and is Magus Merick here), what scenes, characters, or themes reminded you of LOTR? Do you think the similarities were intentional? Why? Also, is the violence in this movie realistic or not? Why does that matter? Does the lack of strong language and graphic violence mean this film is targeted at younger audiences?
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