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Author Topic: ROBERT THE BRUCE (2019)  (Read 40 times)
jdv
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« on: June 15, 2020, 01:03:52 PM »

Nominally a sequel to BRAVEHEART, 2019's ROBERT THE BRUCE is more like a side adventure of the eventual King of Scotland.  It became available to watch in the states a couple of months ago (I saw it on Prime).

There have been a few attempts in recent years to expand on what we learned about the Bruce in BRAVEHEART, most notably Netflix's OUTLAW KING starring Chris Pine which also came out in 2019.  There is one primary factor which sets ROBERT THE BRUCE above the others, and that factor is Angus McFadyen.

And that's because he's the actor who played the Bruce in BRAVEHEART.  That fact provides the single best reason to see this version.  McFadyen of course was fantastic in part in the original movie, and he loses none of his power now, nearly a quarter century later.  He's a fantastic, under-used actor, and was another one of those fantastic casting choices made by Mel Gibson for the original.  MacFayden also appears to be the primary reason this new movie got made, as he's also one of the writers and co-producers.

First the good - the photography (shot mostly in Montana of all places) is fantastic.  Absolutely worthy of the original.  The music, while not spectacular, has some very large shoes to fill and does so admirably.  While Mel Elias is no James Horner, no one else is either, so no shame.  The supporting cast is fine, although not as good perhaps as BRAVEHEART.  The action, when it is present, is effective and realistic.  The movie seems to be shot entirely on location during the winter, and the suffering comes through in a good way.  The costumes echo BRAVEHEART without directly stealing them.

And of course McFadyen himself is a rather large foundation upon which the entire project rests.  He's so perfect in the part he seems literally born to play the role.

The problem with the movie is that it isn't BRAVEHEART.  And that is perhaps why the reviews have largely been unkind.  It has a tiny budget for one, and that cripples any chance for the large set piece battles in the original, while also limits the scope of any tale about the larger-than-life hero.

Taking place after BRAVEHEART, but before the battle of Bannockburn, it is essentially a telling of the story of the Bruce watching a spider while hiding out from the English.  The spider was attempting to make a web, only to fail because of the cold.  Eventually, the spider completes the web and the Bruce is inspired to try to unite Scotland again.

This legend has been told to every kid in Scotland for the past 700 years, and MacFayden - a Scot - certainly was inspired by it as it's a big part of the movie.  But the tale and related story about being taken in by a family loyal to England, isn't enough for a full-blown movie.

And that's really the only problem with the film - the story it's telling is too small for the time allotted.  It's maybe a half hour story told over 2 hours.  So the movie really is a sort of really fleshed out side-adventure to a larger D&D module (so to speak).  Thus ROBERT THE BRUCE is really only for die-hard fans of BRAVEHEART, or those wanting to see MacFayden in the role again.  As I'm both, I enjoyed the movie while wishing it has a bigger budget.

As a side note, I tried watching Chris Pine in the part in OUTLAW KING, a film with a much larger budget.  Simply put, despite a good effort, I couldn't even finish it.  I just could never buy a guy from California in the role.  And if you can't believe the actor in the title role, no matter how good the rest of the movie is, it's a fail.

So in that way, ROBERT THE BRUCE is a responding success.  Because they actually have the Bruce in the part (well, the closest we're ever going to get), it's going to be the best of any of the newer versions of the story.  I was prepared to hate the movie, but ended up pleasantly surprised.  Everyone gives it their all, and although the movie needed a higher budget, seeing MacFayden in the role again is worth the price of admission.

Bottom line:  3 "Angus, Angus MacFayden" out of 5 stars
« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 01:11:07 PM by jdv » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2020, 08:00:36 PM »

I'll add it to the list!
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jdv
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2020, 02:56:25 PM »

Seoras Wallace - William's descendant - in in the flick and was historical advisor.



And nice little making-of here:
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2020, 06:28:03 AM »

That is wild that an actual descendant was involved.
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And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  _ Revelations 13
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