The Last King of Scotland (2006) [Blu-ray]
|Fox || R - 123 minutes - $29.99 || February 2, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-14|
Writer(s): Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock (screenplay)
Cast: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Gillian Anderson
Theatrical Release Date: September 27, 2006
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Plot: It’s the early ‘70s when Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (JAMES MCAVOY) comes to Uganda to help out at a rural hospital run by Dr. Merritt and his wife, Sarah (GILLIAN ANDERSON). Once there, he meets the newly elected President Idi Amin (FOREST WHITAKER) and when he assists him when Amin’s hand is broken in a car accident, Amin takes Nicholas under his wing. But who Nicholas thought would be a good leader for the poor people of Uganda, when the years past he sees Amin become increasingly paranoid about being assassinated and as Amin pushed aside his other advisors, he would not allow Nicholas to go home. Now Garrigan must figure out a way to escape from the progressively more murderous man who once had promise to do good.
I remember being thoroughly impressed with The Last King of Scotland when I first saw it a few years ago and although the movie itself is quite good, it’s propelled by a fantastic performance from Forest Whitaker who definitely deserved the Oscar. Of course, not to be overshadowed, James McAvoy proves that he is a force to be reckon with, being able to stand toe-to-toe with Whitaker and as seen in movies like Wanted and Atonement, he’s shown himself to be more versatile than many of the up-and-comers.
The film is based upon a novel by Giles Foden and adapted by Peter Morgan – the man behind Frost/Nixon, The Queen and apparently the next James Bond flick – and Jeremy Brock (Driving Lessons). As I already mentioned, the movie was directed by Kevin Macdonald whose had a ho-hum career before getting a little more high profile with 2009’s political thriller, State of Play.
Overall, while I don’t think the complete package of The Last King of Scotland isn’t as impressive as I remembered it from my last viewing, it still is a film that should be seen for the subject matter and two amazing performances.
All the features have been ported over from the DVD release. All the features are presented in standard definition.
The disc includes an average feature commentary by director Kevin Macdonald followed by 7 ho-hum deleted scenes (12:00) with optional commentary by Macdonald. Next up is an interesting Capturing Idi Amin Documentary (29:05) about the dictator. Last up are a couple Fox Movie Channel featurettes in: Forest Whitaker: Idi Amin (5:59) where the Oscar winner talks about the character and how he approached it and Casting Session (8:39). Oh, and there’s also the theatrical trailer (2:17).
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The Last King of Scotland is presented with a 2.35 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. The picture quality on this 4 year old film isn’t as good as I had hoped, yet still the detail levels were good and probably on par with how director Kevin MacDonald and DP Anthony Dod Mantle had shot it (meaning some of it looks a tad oversaturated, possibly to match the nature of the scenery). So, even though it’s not the best looking transfer, the natural film grain isn’t overwhelming and I noticed no flaws and this is probably a good upgrade over the DVD.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sounds great with the score and ambient noises making use of the front and back channels while the center channel is strictly used for the dialogue which is clear. I wouldn’t say this is an all encompassing HD audio, but overall I was impressed.
The Last King of Scotland may not be as good as I remembered it, but thanks to two fantastic performances from Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy, and at least an intriguing story, it still makes this a worthwhile film to watch. Also, the video and audio are both solid advances over its DVD counterpart, so if you’re looking to upgrade and can find this at a good price, then it is worth it.