27 November 2018

A Private Little War

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Outlaw King tells the story of legendary Robert the Bruce with the film beginning as he agrees to be England's little bitch. Apparently, the film is set in 1304, but as I saw peasants living in mud and the English trying desperately not to lose control of Scotland, I naturally assumed that it was set post-Brexit. A few years later, Robert notices how dissatisfied the Scottish seem to be with the slaughter of their hero William Wallace being something that particularly irks them. Although if he thought that they were pissed off with their national hero being killed and chopped into pieces then I look forward to him seeing their reaction to the future casting of Mel Gibson. From here Robert decides to fight back by being crowned the King of Scotland and rounding up a small rabble of bearded monsters that we call 'Scottish people'. I can't say I'm a historian and you could honestly write everything that I know about Scottish history onto a mouse's cock. Though from what I can gather, this film takes so many liberties with the facts that a game of Chinese whispers in a tourette's clinic would prove more reliable.

Not that I give two fucks about a film's factual accuracy, assuming that the final product is able to distract me from fantasising about the inevitability of my own death for a couple of hours. Considering I care more about films than I do history, I suppose that for me the biggest issue facing Outlaw King would be how it compares to Braveheart. Going in its favour however, is the fact that I've never actually seen Braveheart to actually care about that either. Although from reviews, I've read that this version is a lot muddier and less interested in glorifying its central character than the other is. William Wallace does have a couple of cameos here, although considering it's only his detached arm in one scene and his head on a spike in another, it's not really enough to draw too many comparisons between films. Although as much as that might be an admirably creative solution to having a dead person cameo in your movie, it might be best to keep Marvel Studios away from seeing this for some time. I also spotted quite a lot of extras pretending to be drunk although I think that's more because they were playing Scottish people than it was a direct reference to Mel Gibson himself.

In the lead role here however is Chris Pine having swapped his young Kirk in favour of showing us his little Scotty. Obviously, that's my clunky way of saying he's playing a Scottish person for a change and not a reference to the scene in which he gets his dick out. Before this film had even had a trailer, the only thing I knew about it was that Pine got his knob out and having now seen the scene, I can't help but feel it was a little over-exaggerated. It's literally about three frames and the scene is backlit so that even if you were hoping to see Kirk's meat-phaser then you're going to be gutted. 'Not that I wanted to, of course', I say aware that I now definitely sound like I wanted to. I'm just a little confused by the hype considering how little a deal it is. It'd be like calling my gym a nudist club instead of a gym because despite its primary purpose of exercising in there'll occasionally be an old man walking about the changing rooms with his bollocks dragging along the floor. As far as his performance goes, however, I'd say that Pine is pretty good. His accent seemed pretty believable to me although as long as it's better than anything in Highlander then I'm not too bothered. It was Scottish sounding enough that I believed he was from Scotland but not so Scottish that I couldn't understand a fucking word of it. Also, the Scots can hardly moan about people ruining their accent when they've had Sean Connery fucking everyone else's up for the last fifty-something years.

Pine's Robert is a thoughtful and surprisingly modern man considering we're used to seeing people like him depicted with blue paint down their face and claiming that the Jews are responsible for all wars. However, it's worth noting that his wife played by Florence Pugh is also a particular highlight which is despite not necessarily getting the screen time that she perhaps deserves. We see the two agree to an arranged marriage at the start of the story which I've heard was a perfectly normal thing to do back then. Apparently, the average life expectancy for the characters in the movie was only thirty-five and so they simply put their faith in God and then went along with whatever traditions they were presented with. I'm not sure if that life expectancy is for people in 1304 or simply for those that live in Scotland but I suppose that's what happens when you live on a diet of deep fried mars bars and heroin. Not that the film shits all over Scotland in terms of its depiction, with the landscape being filmed as though by a mountain-pervert getting off on his nature porn. In fact, there were at least three occasions that I saw a rainbow in the background of a shot which was not only beautiful but also a little confusing. Were they just randomly there or is the director making a statement? Do they represent hope or simply the beauty of the land that the characters are fighting over? Either way, I hadn't seen that many rainbows in the street since my mate sent me snapchats of his night out in fucking Brighton.

So what we're left with is a pretty well-acted film that looks great whilst taking a big old steaming dump on the truth. However, the reason I'd say that it is absolutely worth a watch is for the battles which really don't skimp on the blood and violence. At one point a character is hanged, stabbed, and then we see their guts fall out onto the floor. I don't want to call that a fun watch because it'd make me sound like a psychopath but if you like your movie gore then this is the medieval movie for you. Axes are hurled into peoples heads, spears are thrown through peoples chests, and flaming arrows are fired into crowds. It's obviously brutal to watch but the kind of brutal that makes you think, “As long as I don't admit it to anybody or get an erection then I think I'm okay to smile whilst watching this”. Is this one of the year's unmissable films? Nope. Will I remember it by the end of the month? Probably not. Should we expect better from the director and star of the incredible Hell Or High Water? Absolutely. However Outlaw King killed two hours without me ever getting bored and considering my choices beforehand were to either watch this or be forced to listen to my own thoughts, I guess I made the right decision. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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