THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in this film, which is a fictional representation of Amin’s administration from within. James McAvoy plays Nicholas Garrigan, a fictional young doctor who is anointed by Amin as his personal physician. After being welcomed into the Presidential palace, Garrigan starts to discover the horrifying truth about Amin, and soon finds himself in danger.
WHAT I LIKED
The most impressive feature of this film is Whitaker’s performance as Amin. It’s one of the most deserved Oscar performances I’ve seen in years, and even upon a third viewing, I am continually stunned by the depth of his acting. Whitaker manages to make Amin sympathetic, likeable and even charming at times. At the same time, he also presents him as the horrible warlord that he was, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. While watching the film, I realize that I have run into a handful of people in my life that have the same egomaniacal psychosis as Amin… fortunately these folks weren’t the dictator of an African country or anything like that.
While I am reluctant to suggest using Hollywood fodder as a substitute for a history book, this movie gives an interesting perspective of what it might have been like in Uganda in the early 1970s… at least from the Presidential inner circle. With no shortage of dictators in this world, it’s spiritually good to experience a film like this to be reminded that these kind of monsters can happen, are real and aren’t always monsters on the surface.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There’s nothing that jumps out at me about this film in a negative aspect. Like many historical and Oscar-bait movies, this runs a tad long. Additionally, I wasn’t wild about the idea of creating a character like Garrigan to present the film. I might have rather seen this from a real person’s point of view to avoid confusion and second guessing about historical accuracy.
Oh, and I thought it would have been funny to have had Whitaker eating a human leg now and then, just to keep those cannibalism rumors alive… but that’s just me.
The Blu-ray imports all of the DVD features from its previous release, including seven deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Kevin MacDonald, a feature commentary with MacDonald, “Forest Whitaker Idi Amin” featurette, the in-depth “Capturing Idi Amin” documentary and Fox Movie Channel’s Casting Session about the picture.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who wants to see a terrifying and kick-ass Oscar-worthy performance by Forest Whitaker.