At some point there must be a fundamental disconnect between the people who choose the title for a movie, and the people who actually put that title on the cover of a DVD. Because In the Name of the King: Two Worlds is a perfectly reasonable name for a sequel to a movie called In the Name of the King, but In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds is fundamentally ridiculous. It would be like calling 2 Fast 2 Furious something like 2 Fast 2 Furious: The Fast and the Furious 2. We get it, alright? If we had any affection for the first film we’ll understand the reference, and if we didn’t then calling attention to the fact that this is a sequel doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Yes, I just spent a whole paragraph griping about the title of a straight-to-video Uwe Boll movie. You’d think I’d have something to say about the movie itself, but In the Name of the King 2 isn’t really worth the trouble. It’s a low-budget follow-up to a pretty damned awful original movie, and its entertainment value is very modest. When I interviewed Dr. Boll about the movie last year he made it seem like an intentional satire of time-travelling fantasy movie tropes, with a protagonist who has a serious problem with winding up in the Middle Ages, when E. Coli was synonymous with drinking water. In the Name of the King 2 touches upon such mildly humorous concepts, but they feel like an afterthought, literally added in post. This is a straightforward trip down fantasy lane, low budget and very poorly acted with only a pretty nifty dragon to its credit. I’ll be nice and let the marketing department use “Pretty nifty dragon” on their promotional materials if they’d like. They won’t get much else in the way of praise.
That said, In the Name of the King 2 is not an atrocious film, it’s just the typical underdeveloped B-movie schlock we’ve come to expect from straight-to-video genre movies. Dolph Lundgren stars – that’s typical right there – as Granger, an ex-special forces type (oh, aren’t they all?) who gets sent back in time to the feudal America, which yes, apparently existed, since nobody even attempts a European accent for more than a line or two. It turns out that Granger is “The Chosen One” who will so-and-so the blah-de-blah. I’m not being dismissive, it’s just extremely generic. There’s a king, played by the skeezy and miscast Lochlyn Munro, who wants Granger to kill an evil witch who plagues the lands. Granger has nothing better to do so he teams up with a doctor incongruously named Manhattan, played by Boll regular Natassia Malthe, to save the day and muddle out who’s double-crossing who. Malthe, usually a rather charismatic presence, is unusually wooden here. Maybe she only got her pages a few minutes before filming each scene. Frankly, I haven’t seen a performance this detached since Jason Robards in the 1970 Stuart Burge production of Julius Caesar. Yes, that’s the most esoteric reference you’ll hear all day. But hey, at least she’s worthy of comparison to Jason Robards.
Nobody seems to be after any kind of artistic expression in In the Name of the King 2, making it pointless to complain that it’s absent. But it’s disappointing to find Uwe Boll backtracking in quality after a few years of increasingly entertaining films like Far Cry and Bloodrayne: Third Reich, neither of which were Oscar caliber but both of which were, at least, amusing low-budget genre romps. There’s a certain camp value to In the Name of the King 2, particularly in Lundgren’s charmingly ambivalent performance, but the film is missing a certain lurid charm. Nobody seems to be having much fun, and the violence and sexuality – often the primary selling point in straight-to-video fare – is muted at best. It’s rated R, but I can’t imagine why. I’ve seen more violent PG-13 movies. And the plot doesn’t make much sense either, but in the interest of meeting the movie halfway I’ll admit that’s hardly the point.
In the Name of the King 2 gallops onto Blu-Ray in a very fine, nicely detailed transfer that doesn’t do the meager sets any favors. There’s a supposedly impenetrable fortress in the movie that has only one wall, and the king in question lives in a ramshackle shed. High-definition only accentuates these flaws. But it looks and sounds as nice as it could, and it comes complete with a couple of behind the scenes featurettes and two commentary tracks, which should please any interested parties.
There’s not much to say about In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds. The filmmakers set their bar low and didn’t strain themselves too hard to meet that goal. It’s a dumb film, but mildly entertaining if your standards are low enough to rent something called In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds in the first place. Boll’s made worse films, but I remain disappointed because he’s proven that he can make better ones as well.
In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds