Nov 22, 2018
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but wildfires are burning throughout California, where this podcast is located. In fact, the wildfires were burning so close a couple weeks back that my family was forced to evacuate. I was working diligently on finishing up a few podcasts when I got the call from my spouse, who warned me about a quickly spreading fire. I began packing immediately, grabbing everything I thought was right, even if I may not have grabbed all the right things, and within thirty minutes, received the mandatory evacuation notice, scrambling to fit as much as we could into our car before heading out of the danger zone. My family was lucky, but many others were not, so if you haven’t yet, and if you’re able, please find a reputable wildfire relief organization and give a little bit for those who have lost so much. And thank a firefighter the next time you see one.
The whole experience put a lot of things into perspective, not just for my personal life, but for this podcast, and the wonderful community that surrounds #FilmTwitter. A great deal of time and effort goes into each episode, and the feedback and support from my fans and collaborators make that process worthwhile. I’ll be telling our evacuation story over the next few episodes as we get caught up, starting with today’s episodes. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP. I promise to return every greeting I receive, and will add each of you to my growing list of people to thank.
Speaking of people to thank, I’ll be taking a little time every episode to thank those who reached out during the fire. And first up? The Moviedrone Podcast. I’m not sure if it was just the timing of their recording, but Marc and Steve were kind enough to wish us well the last couple of weeks on their podcast. Thanks so much guys for your support, and for the legal record, I never received anything from their podcast which could have potentially been submitted for insurance. Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out their last few podcasts for the story. And believe me, it’s a story all right. For those of you that don’t know them, here’s a quick promo, and then we’ll get to today’s review.
Today’s movie is “Outlaw King” (2018), the Netflix Original historical drama directed by David Mackenzie, and written for the screen in collaboration with Bathsheba Doran and James MacInnes, with additional writing from Mark Bomback and David Harrower. The film follows the life of Robert The Bruce (Chris Pine), a contemporary of William Wallace who claims the Scottish throne after Wallace’s execution and rebels against the British. Get your kilts and spears ready!
If there’s one thing that this film has taught me, it’s that there is a rich historical drama series to be created from the combined story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, that could explore the conditions leading up to Scotland’s independence. Folks loved “Braveheart”, but “Game of Thrones” has made the idea of a long-form, brutal medieval series exciting. So many great characters and so many great storylines, but definitely as a longer series, not a film. Because while today’s film absolutely nails the look and feel of the time, it’s clearly too much, or perhaps not enough story for this film.
“Outlaw King” picks up as the Scottish lords are kneeling to the British throne in the wake of William Wallace’s failed rebellion. We’re introduced right away to Robert the Bruce, who struggles with the fate of his family and his country, but quickly sees the result of high taxes on a recovering nation, and the lingering feeling of revolution among the people. We don’t get a whole lot of his upbringing, nor a whole lot of his role during the rebellion, but for folks not familiar with the history, we’re also not given enough reason to commit to Robert’s cause, aside from the truly horrific nature of British rule. And we’re taken all the way to the British defeat against the Scottish rebel army, thus confirming Robert the Bruce as the legitimate king of an independent Scotland. However, it ends up being more of a history lesson masquerading as an exciting montage rather than telling a complete story, something definitely more suited to a limited or extended series.
Now, for all my criticisms of the story, I did find the cast, direction, costumes, and sets to be above average, sometimes even bordering on exceptional. Chris Pine is great as Robert the Bruce, despite the storytelling concerns. I thought the individual scenes were well directed, especially the battle scenes, which took all the many lessons learned from “Game of Thrones” and other epic fantasy films from the last two decades to deliver some excellent realism. Lots of great shots, but it does struggle between those scenes to be something more.
“Outlaw King” (2018) is a beautiful film to watch, but it can’t offset the difficulty of fitting this story into a feature-length film. David Mackenzie and Chris Pine bring Robert the Bruce’s story to life, with the help of excellent costumes, sets, and action scenes. Fans of historical dramas should definitely check out this film, but be ready to be left wanting more, and not necessarily in a good way.
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
One Movie Punch: 7.4/10
“Outlaw King” (2018) is rated R and is currently streaming on Netflix and playing in select theaters.