TIFF 2018: Outlaw King, Destined for Small Screen, Makes Big Screen Splash 

click to enlarge Chris Pine is the Outlaw King - GEORGE PIMENTEL WIREIMAGEGETTY FOR TIFF 09
  • George Pimentel WireImageGetty for TIFF 09
  • Chris Pine is the Outlaw King
Outlaw King tries hard to be grand enough in scope to demand a big screen. So it's no surprise that the 2,500-plus attendees inside Toronto's massive Roy Thomson Hall greeted the biopic with rapturous applause. But when a giant scarlet "N" flashed across the screen in the opening titles, marking Outlaw King as a Netflix production, a collective murmur was audible from a good many of those same attendees. They were probably wondering how much someone might enjoy the same film on a home screen or (horrors) a tiny smartphone. Indeed, that will be the experience for millions of Netflix subscribers when the film hits the streaming platform later this fall.

For the record, Outlaw King is great. Scottish director David Mackenzie has crafted a polished mini-epic, telling the story of Robert the Bruce, the 14th-century legend who, in large part, forged what we now know as Scotland. Mackenzie has once again teamed with Chris Pine, after finding Oscar-nominated success with their previous Hell or High Water collaboration.

Let's get this straight as soon as possible: Pine's Scottish brogue is spot-on, and he carries the film (which is quite a load to carry, considering Robert the Bruce's legend).

"I'm a 6-foot-tall, blue-eyed Californian," Pine told Boise Weekly on the red carpet prior to the premiere. "But hey, my family came from the British Isles, so I have a bit of the right DNA."

Pine said he was drawn to the project because of a script that saw Robert the Bruce as a "flawed man."

"He's nothing like William Wallace, for example," said Pine, referring to another Scottish legend, captured in the Oscar-winning Braveheart. "Robert the Bruce is a man who lived a lot longer, had too many highs and lows, but lived long enough to see a unified Scotland."

As for working for Netflix, Pine said, "Look, I would love to see my work on the big screen. And I would love to see a lot of people see this in theaters. That said, Netflix was wonderfully hands-off in the artistic process. I can't tell you how refreshing and unusual that is for a film of this size."

And Netflix is not to be denied. Of the 342 films showcased at this year's Toronto's International Film Festival, Outlaw King earned the prestigious opening night slot.
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