Review: Outlaw King

So, Netflix’s attempt at an historical epic is now available to watch and on a rainy grim night me and the wife settled in to watch The Outlaw King, the untold story of Robert the Bruce.

First off let’s get the good news out of the way. It’s no Braveheart, a movie that plays fast and loose with real history to the point that it’s insulting. There’s no tartan in sight either which is a surprise but a pleasant welcome as it shows the film makers were more interested in historical accuracy than Mel Gibson ever was.

Chris Pine does a ok job as Robert Bruce but I felt as though a man who did so much against such odds would have had far more of a personality. He does a passable job and even his faux Scots accent is passable. The acting throughout is adequate but there’s the problem. Aside from Robert’s wife, every character is instantly forgettable.

The English as to be expected are portrayed as villains as per usual but again at least there not done in such a pantomime way that Braveheart handled it. Prince Edward’s character however annoyed me a lot. In real life, yes, the guy was a bad king who was eventually murdered by his nobles but in this movie, he comes across as a lunatic who kills for no reason other than ‘I’m the baddy so I kill people’. One scene where he literally disembowels a man was way over the top and I seriously doubt a prince would have got his hands dirty like that.

The trailer for this movie suggested that we’d be getting plenty of Medieval battles and we certainly do. The violence is high to the point where I was expecting to see a chap with a super soaker spraying blood everywhere and boy does the blood spray (to the point where it gets a bit daft).

The final battle is done well save for the movie makers playing fast and lose with history in a big way. Damnit Hollywood why change things when the real-life events where far more fascinating and exciting than any script could hope to be!

The costumes were excellent however and for the most part historically accurate. The combat too was done well save for the usual Hollywood nonsense of fire arrows and chucking swords at people.

Overall the movie was distinctly average, and the pacing was all over the shop in places. It also ended on weird spot that surprised me. If you’re expecting a recreation of the Battle of Bannockburn your going to be hugely let-down.

Outlaw King is a bit of a meh movie. There are some good scenes in it and the cinematography is excellent throughout it’s just that the script is a tad dull and poorly paced.

I give it a 6/10.

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last blog post. A combination of being busy at work (always a good thing!), getting man flu (boo) and facing down the dreaded writer’s block being the main reasons.

In this post, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the Netflix series: The Haunting of House Hill. Now my wife is a massive horror fan, me not so much. It’s not that I don’t like them because they’re scary but often because the writing of horror movies is often terrible and very predictable. Often Hollywood takes one of two routes, either they go all out gore or just plain dumb. So many movies begin well and suitably creepy but then decide to reveal the ‘ghost, monster or whatever else it is and the horror just falls away to be replaced by hilarious situations (looking at you Conjuring).

When we decided to give The Haunting of Hill House a watch I wasn’t expecting much at all but I am pleased to report that this series is excellent. The writing is filled with twists and turns, the acting is done brilliantly by the entire cast (both the children and adults alike) and for once in a horror, I didn’t see the ending coming.

Is it scary?

From the very first episode, the series is genuinely creepy and at times really scary. It has plenty of jump scares but it is also very subtle with the horror too. Sometimes you see figures in the background of a scene, faces in a mirror, shadows moving along walls. In some scenes that on the surface seemed entirely normal my wife actually cried out at spotting something lurking in the distance and when you do spot it you will feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

At the heart of the plot is a family drama and an excellent one at that. I won’t spoil anything but be prepared to be at first confused due to all the time jumps but by the end, it all pays off in an excellent way.

The first few episodes follow the experiences of each of the children and the parents of both their time growing up in the haunted house as well as the impacts it has had on them into adulthood. Even the most seemingly stable of the children grow up to have demons of their own and the show portrays this brilliantly.

The story doesn’t descend into gory or supernatural stupidity like most movies or shows but instead, every single one of the ghostly experiences happens for a real reason and reasons that you can relate too and understand.

Perhaps one of the creepiest examples of this is when the eldest son is talking to his dad about the experiences he had in the house. For most of his adult life, he was adamant he hadn’t experienced anything supernatural until his father calls him out on something seemingly minor. The son tells a story of walking through the house that at the time was full of workmen and says he had avoided a man working on the old grandfather clock. Except, there was never anyone hired to work on the clock, his father says. It was a ghost! This scene is done in such a way that I could believe it 100%.

Overall, The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent horror series and one that is genuinely creepy. However, once you get to the final episode and begin to understand what is occurring the sense of fear disappears. As with anything the fear of the unknown is the biggest fear we all have. Once we see the face of that fear it loses its power over us and in the case of this show the same occurs. Despite the final episode, those that come before are full of genuine scares and I’m not ashamed to admit that I too was hiding behind a cushion a few times!

Overall score – 8/10

An excellent series with great acting and is actually scary…well until the final episode.


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Review: The Defenders

The Marvel Tv event that we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived but is it any good?

Superhero Team-up Woo!

Following on from the rather disappointing Iron Fist show this series finally brings together Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and of course The Immortal IronFIst. The show gets off to a solid start by reintroducing our heroes and letting us know what they’ve been up to since their last respective series ended. Luke Cage is just getting out of prison, Jessica Jones is still on a break following the events with KillGrave, Matt Murdock has packed in being Daredevil and Iron Fist is still on his mission to hunt down the mysterious Hand.

Luke Cage is just getting out of prison, Jessica Jones is still on a break following the events with KillGrave, Matt Murdock has packed in being Daredevil and Iron Fist is still on his mission to hunt down the mysterious Hand. This reintroduction makes the Defenders easy enough for newcomers to pick up the basics of what has taken place and the events leading up to the show.

Disappointingly the series is only 8 episodes long (which is how I’m already able to write this review) but thankfully what is in those episodes is worth it… for the most part. As with all of the Marvel Netflix shows there are some scenes that do drag on a bit and don’t appear that relevant to the plot and it’s not until episode 3 that all of our heroes meet up for the first time.

That Fight Scene

The best episode for me was by far episode 3. The fight scene with all the heroes working together against the Hand is excellent and reminiscent of the incredible corridor fight from Daredevil season 1. The interactions between the 4 heroes are excellent with great banter between them all (although I was a little bit confused as to how Luke Cage and Jessica Jones were so dismissive of Iron Fists story about the Hand. Afterall this takes place in the MCU where aliens have invaded and killer robots have imperilled the world.)

It’s Good, Not Great

There are a few negatives to the show. In some episodes, the fight scenes take place in very dark locations so it can be difficult to make out what’s going on and I felt that the Hand were pretty lacklustre villains after all the buildup in Daredevil and Iron Fist. Sigourney Weaver, however, is excellent as the head of the Hand and is intimidating and vulnerable at the same time.

The plot did drag in some places and I won’t spoil it for you but I felt like the show would have ended on a stronger note if it wasn’t for that very last scene. Overall, I did enjoy the Defenders and am excited to see where the Netflix Marvel shows go next. The Punisher is coming in November and season 2 of a few of the other characters are in the pipeline and I wonder whether the Defenders will make some sort of cameo in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie out next year.

I give the Defenders an 7/10

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