This week I saw two movies of note. First was the Netflix film, that was released at TIFF in September Outlaw King based upon the story about Robert the Bruce starring Chris Pine. The story is in many ways a follow up to the Braveheart story about William Wallace, which starred Mel Gibson and won Best Picture from 1995. The new film borrows a great deal from the Braveheart tale, but doesn’t carry with it the production value, nor the acting from the principals. Pine struggles with the Scottish accent, and the action sequences are nothing that we haven’t seen before. In fact, the charging horse scene with the English horses is very close to the Gibson version at Sterling with the long spears. In the end it felt forced and just not as good, and not really a story that needed to be told in this forum. I am pleased I avoided at TIFF, because once again the film simply wasn’t worth the money and I would have been disappointed. I like Chris Pine. But I think he has a particular niche where he fits where, and being a Scottish King, just simply isn’t it.
In the theatre I took youngest son to go see The Grinch. This is from the same company that did Minions and the Despicable Me films. I liked Despicable Me and felt it had a good heart. This film is another adaptation of the classic book and the 30 minute Warner Bros. cartoon with Boris Karloff voicing the Grinch. There were some memorable songs too in that original, a couple of which seemed to make it to this new version, which is a very good thing. The Who-ville Who’s song of rejoicing is there, and you have to be pretty Grinchian yourself not to feel the seasonal cheer from that. Anyway, the Grinch is now voiced by American sounding Benedict Cumberbatch. He has his sidekick Max, and they fret about the approaching Christmas season. There is a backstory made, which makes some sense that the Jim Carey/Ron Howard live version which simply never did it for me. Youngest son LOVED it, and watched it consecutively on a loop, but it was just not very good. This is better. Better than I expected. I liked the animation and the scenes of Who-ville. They took the idea from the book and built upon it. The homes are stacked and all flowing natural shapes. The look and feel of the film is pleasant and welcoming. From the storefronts to the interiors, it is creative and well imagined. We all know the story, and once again the Grinch is that flawed character who learns the true meaning of Christmas. That’s a message that everyone can hear again and have it reinforced. Do you need to see it in a big theatre? No. But it’s a holiday film that I think could be replayed on an annual basis and still create smiles.