Don’t trust any one person who claims they’re on top of all the new movies and TV series hitting theatres and streaming services. To make life easier, the team at That Shelf will pool their collective knowledge, and chime in with the latest – and straight up late – additions to the pop culture conversation.
Director: David Mackenzie
Release: November 09, 2018
At a glance, Outlaw King has everything you could ask for from a big-budget historical drama: A wrenching real-life story, epic battles, and a sexy hero who looks smashing in a tunic. And adding to the film’s prestige factor is that it was selected as the opening night Gala film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Outlaw King works as a Braveheart companion piece, and picks up in the aftermath of William Wallace’s guerilla warfare. It’s 1305, and King Edward I (Stephen Dillane) has stamped out the Scottish rebellions. The former rebels must meet with England’s king to bow down and pledge their loyalty, but tensions still run high. At first, Robert The Bruce (Chris Pine), an heir to the Scottish throne, seems too quick to accept defeat. And he’s given a wife (Florence Pugh) and rule over Scottish domains as a reward for his submission. But there’s only so much Robert can take, and when Wallace’s death sparks a riot, he once again takes up arms against England. But this time, Robert unifies his people as their true king, before taking the fight to his oppressors.
Outlaw King goes all-in on the action and violence. Rebellion isn’t pretty, and director David Mackenzie often brings viewers right into the thick of battles. The film’s many clashes offer graphic depictions of brutal, mud-covered conflicts. The camera loves swooping in close every time an axe cleaves into men’s chests, or a longsword skewers a combatant like a kabob. This biopic isn’t for the squeamish.
With Outlaw King’s elaborate costumes, rousing score, and grisly battles, Netflix clearly wants to tap into Game of Thrones’ audience. But this picture lacks the elements that make Game of Thrones sizzle: a gripping plot, memorable characters, and the best world-building going. Too often, the film glosses over character-defining moments and resorts to people standing around talking about what they’re about to do. Outlaw King is by no means an awful movie, but a big-budget historical epic shouldn’t feel this lean. It comes across as though someone smashed a four-hour miniseries into a two-hour feature.
WHAT DID I MISS?
The Night Comes for Us
Director: Timo Tjahjanto
Release: October 19, 2018
Marvel movies may rule over the Hollywood box office like Wakandan royalty, but it’s guys named Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, and Timo Tjahjanto who churn out the best action movies on the planet. If you’re a fan of insane action flicks like The Raid and the SPL series, then The Night Comes for Us will earn a special place in your heart.
This film’s premise couldn’t be any simpler. A triad enforcer named Ito (Joe Taslim) turns on his bosses after refusing to kill a little girl. Needless to say, crime lords don’t like it when their minions disobey. The hit goes out on Ito and the little girl he’s protecting. To stay alive, Ito must bludgeon, break, and splatter any fool stupid enough to get in his way.
This movie’s action sequences and fight choreography are ridiculous. Several characters rack up a body counts that would put Michael Myers and The Predator to shame. Most impressive, though, is the physical carnage combatants unleash. This movie revels in a level of violence straight out of a grindhouse flick, or an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon – think one-part Evil Dead, a touch of Mortal Kombat, and a splash of Dead Alive. This sardonic concoction isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you have the stomach for it, The Night Comes for Us offers one standout set piece after another.
Tjahjanto’s latest film is a cinematic exercise in lunacy, more violent than any film needs to be, and one of the most thrilling movies I’ve seen this year. One could be forgiven for thinking its hero Ito is less a flesh and blood man than fury-demon fuelled by its lust for violence. From beginning to end, The Night Comes for Us is one wild ride and a film that demands to be seen with raucous midnight madness crowds.
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