Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Film Review: The Last King of Scotland

I got a chance to watch The Last King of Scotland on dvd yesterday. Seeing as it was such a big deal last year, I figured I'd give it a review here.

For those who don't know, the movie revolves around a young Scottish doctor who heads to Uganda on a whim and gets caught up with the new and eccentric general-turned-dictator Idi Amin.

For portraying Amin, Forest Whitaker picked up the Best Actor statuette at the Oscars.

Which brings me to my first issue with this film.

Whitaker cannot be the lead actor, because Amin is not the lead character. The movie is clearly about Nicholas Garrigan, played by relative nobody James McAvoy (remember the faun in The Chronicles of Narnia?). Sure, Whitaker chews the scenery and Amin is a dominant force in all his scenes, but the fact remains that the movie is not about him. This is like giving Sean Connery the Best Actor nod for The Untouchables. Sure he's enjoyable, sure he dominates scenes, but the movie is about Kevin Costner's Elliot Ness. Besides, while The Untouchables had Connery scenes without Costner, all of Whitaker's scenes include McAvoy - and there are no scenes without McAvoy. Whitaker's performance is quite good, but clearly he should have won for Best Supporting Actor - just as Connery did.

But my big complaint about the movie itself is the story. It's colour-by-numbers. There are no surprises to be found here. Every story turn is predictable - whether it makes sense or not. See Gillian Anderson's character for the "no sense" variety. Like The Namesake, this movie is based on a novel and, once again, we see a screenplay that doesn't know where to trim. At first I thought the movie was supposed to be a semi-true account, like Almost Famous, but I have since read that it is fictional (so why base it in a real country with a real leader? I dunno either).

The movie had promise, and it wasn't boring, but in the end it left me with little in terms of "attachment".

How could a movie about a Scottish guy in Africa be this unoriginal?

Thumbs sideways.

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