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Just watched this film yesterday after it arrived from Tesco DVD Rental. The surprise was that it wasn't as bad as I'd been led to expect - or indeed as bad as I had perhaps hoped.

Personally, I've never really understood why Uwe Boll has such a poor reputation. Granted, his computer game adaptations pretty much dance a merry polka over the source material, and the scripts typically have more ham than my local pork butcher's, but the films aren't really badly made. They're not great cinema by any stretch, but... how shall I put this? They're good enough to show the badness. There's a sense of missed potential, rather than the gleeful through-and-through bollockicity of things like China O'Brien.

The script is dire, of course. You've got Saruman (sorry, "Gallian") building an army of super-orcs or uruk-hai (sorry, "krug") in his lava-lit volcanic domain of Mordor or Orthanc, I'm not sure which, while the king's long-lost son has to come back to remove a pretender to the throne... It's not bad per se, but it's terribly derivative, and doesn't really stand up when Lord Of The Rings did it so much better.

In terms of casting, Boll does his usual trick of getting big names; Statham, Sobieski, Lillard, Loken, Perlman, Liotta, Burt Reynolds... even John Rhys-Davies, who can salvage any film just by being in it. Many of them put in decent performances despite the rather pedestrian script (although why nobody picked up on the fact that the dialogue wobbles at random between middle English and California 2008 continues to elude me), and then ham it up utterly for other parts. It really is terribly uneven.

Visually, though, it's rather more impressive. The special effects aren't always great - the magicians' travelling spells are about the only bits that really work well - but the photography is often very nice indeed.

So on the whole, not bad. Not great, but not bad, and if you just want a mostly brainless LOTR knockoff to kill a couple of hours, you could do worse. Just don't expect greatness.






In a rather larger surprise, I watched the BBC's series on oratory, The Speaker, and found myself nodding and agreeing with Jo Brand. Normally I can't stand her, but on The Speaker, talking about public speaking in a professional capacity, she really knows her stuff.

In other news, it's a terrific series, much more interesting than things like Pop Idol and whatnot, and I find myself really hoping that either Irene or Maria pull through and win. Very pleasant voices, measured tones, a calm and easy air about them while still being able to access the enthusiasm and interest to make their speeches work... There are many of the contestants that I'd like to see go far, but those two in particular have, I suspect, very interesting futures ahead of them.

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awmperry

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