The Last King of Scotland generated quite a bit of buzz at this yearï¿½s Oscars, most notably the performance by Forest Whitaker. Based upon the book of the same name, which was in turn based upon the Ugandan dictator between 1970 and 1979; Idi Amin. Although the movie involves a completely fictional protagonist it apparently shadows the life of Idi Amin quite well, which offers a nice mix of fiction and reality.
Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) recently graduated from medical school and decides to lead his expertise to a small countryside hospital in Uganda. Just upon arriving, a new dictator has stepped into office by force, Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) who is greatly admired by the people. One day while in the area, Amin is involved in a small car accident and Garrigan begins treating him. A nearby cow injured from the accident is suffering and his noises begin distracting Garrigan who very boldly grabs Aminï¿½s pistol and kills the cow. Amin appears to be offended, but when he hears that Garrigan is from Scotland, a country he respects and Amin begins to admire Garrigan. Initially Amin seems like a great guy out to improve his country; Garrigan even becomes his personal physician and his most trusted advisor. But as the story proceeds we learn more and more of Aminï¿½s corruption and brutal ways, causing alarm for even the always-loyal Garrigan.
The Last King of Scotland isnï¿½t a movie for everyone, itï¿½s completely dialogue driven and carried by its acting. Forest Whitaker very deservingly won his Oscar, playing a very complicated and conflicted dictator. The role was nailed perfectly, at times we sympathize with Amin and at other times we loathed him; a perfectly executed role. The character in the movie very closely resembles the actual person, showcasing what he was capable of, but as previously mentioned a majority of the events were in fact fictional to add a bit of entertainment. The Last King of Scotland wasnï¿½t a perfect movie even with Whitakerï¿½s performance; the story at times was dull and somewhat predictable. At other times I found myself engaged in the movie trying to figure out exactly what kind of person Amin really was.
This film is a must see for fans of dialogue driven movies with serious subject matters like genocide and political corruption. For those of you that expect a wildly entertaining movie this one wonï¿½t be for you, overall The Last King of Scotland is a solid movie and Whitakerï¿½s performance truly Oscar worthy.
Please note that a screener copy of the film was used for this review, video in the retail release may differ.
Presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio The Last King of Scotland is fitted with a disappointing video transfer. First the good, some detail can be seen and look very impressive at times, especially close up on people face during night time. Colors can look just as impressive at times, looking vibrant and sharp. Unfortunately shots taken at a distance do show some horrible compression artifacts and edge enhancement. The Last King of Scotland suffers from many of the same problems as Eragon did, so I think itï¿½s safe to assume that retail copies of either movie will look much better.
Fox has included a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and it does a very good job presenting the films material. The dialogue sound great throughout the entire movie, with no audible faults. The assassination attempt on Idi Amins life does offer a nice jolt to the track, using all channels including a nice use of bass. There are other scenes in the movie like the splashed water of a swimming pool or singing on in bar that offer a good surround experience. Overall the track sounds great, it manages to pull off great sounding dialogue and offers a solid surround experience.
- Audio Commentary A commentary track by the director Kevin MacDonald who makes some interesting comments and shares some of his personal opinions on the cast; namely Forest Whitaker.
- Deleted Scenes ï¿½ 7 Deleted scenes which include optional commentary by Director Kevin MacDonald.
- Capturing Idi Amin ï¿½ A documentary on Idi Amin, which I found to be very interesting. It interviews a handful of people who loved and hated Amin, along with some archival new clippings and footage this documentary proves to be a worthwhile watch.
- Forest Whitaker ï¿½Idi Aminï¿½ ï¿½ Forest Whitaker talks about the themes of the movie as well as the character he played. Along with Whitaker actor James McAvoy includes his opinions on Amin as well. This proves to be a very interesting feature that provides an insightful look into the life of Amin and what the actors thought of him.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session ï¿½ The Last King of Scotland ï¿½ Interviews with both the cast and the crew, speaking about how improbable it seemed to discover an actor to portray a charismatic and terrifying Amin, who was ultimately portrayed perfectly by Forest Whitaker.
- Theatrical Trailer
A rather solid movie filled with convincing acting and a usually consistent progressing storyline a must see for fans of the genre. The special features were a great addition to the disc convincing fans of the movie even further to buy the DVD. The disappointing video will hopefully be fixed come retail but the audio track is great as is. I would recommend a rental before a purchase is this kind of movie isnï¿½t for everyone, but if you enjoy the movie the special features along with the audio makes this a worthwhile purchase.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director Kevin Macdonald
- Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Kevin Macdonald
- Documentary: Capturing Idi Amin
- Forest Whitaker Featurette
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session- The Last King of Scotland