Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi is a national journalist who has been covering the video game business for more than a decade. In addition to blogging for WRAL.com at Gaming Guru and covering the video games industry for WRAL Local Tech Wire, he also writes about gaming for Wired Magazine, The Washington Post, Xbox.com and Yahoo! Games.

CARY –
Over the years, controversial film director Uwe Boll has made headlines by boxing some of his critics at an online pay-per-view event in Vancouver and he’s upset many gamers by turning fan favorites like House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne into bad movies.

Yet, along the way, Boll has actually made a killing in DVD sales of all of his movies–enough so that sequels to Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne have already been made and/or released. And his movies do well overseas.

But for those who watch his movies–and I’ve seen all of his game adaptions, Boll has become a better director over the years.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which is loosely based on Gas Powered Games’ Dungeon Siege franchise, is without a doubt the best movie he’s ever made. And the $60 million, independently financed feature is also a decent fantasy movie on its own. The movie opened this weekend.

While it’s no Lord of the Rings, In the Name of the King features a great cast of actors, including Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies and Matthew Lillard. These actors bring the story to life, and Boll’s theatrical cut of the movie keeps the action moving forward briskly. The fact that Tony Chiang of Hero and House of Flying Daggers fame directed the film’s many action sequences also helps this film stand out from past Boll features.

When it comes to fantasy films, there’s not much out there after The Golden Compass crashed and burned at the box office. In the Name of the King features magic and sorcerers and krugs (who aren’t nearly as convincing as Lord of the Rings’ ogres), as well as decent special effects. It’s a solid fantasy film that should work for both families and fantasy fans. The cast is diverse enough that it should also appeal to both males and females.

One thing that’s important to know going into this film is that this is NOT a typical Uwe Boll movie. He’s done some really bad movies before. I couldn’t even finish watching House of the Dead, but this movie is his dream project and he’s been able to make a big budget effects-laden movie outside of Hollywood for just $60 million. That’s quite a feat, in itself.

The end result, which is what film and game fans care about, is worth checking out. It’s not going to win any Oscars, and it may not win over all of Boll’s many detractors, but the film is good. And it’s been generating positive buzz around the world. (It debuted last year in Germany and other foreign territories.)

For those looking for even more of In the Name of the King, Boll is already planning an unrated extended cut of the movie that will feature more fighting, more characterization and a much longer running time (likely three hours). For me, I think this streamlined version, which I saw in Vancouver last year, works just fine and I think most movie-goers will be happy. As for movie critics, on the rare occasion when they actually like a film, this won’t be one of them, which is why Boll did not screen In the Name of the King for the press.

But I think gamers will be surprised by this movie, especially when comparing this film to previous movies. It’s definitely a huge step in the right direction.