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Chris Pine pulls off a decent Scottish accent as the great 14th-century insurrectionary in David Mackezie’s brisk retelling David Mackenzie’s retelling of the Robert the Bruce story for Netflix is bold and watchable, with a spectacular final battle scene shot with flair by the cinematographer Barry Ackroyd. Here is the legendary defiance shown by the great 14th-century Scottish insurrectionary, defying the hated English king and fighting a shrewd guerrilla war, luring enemy forces deeply and wearyingly north, while progressively amassing his own support, and then securing a historic victory. Mackenzie has abolished the infamous moment when Robert, hiding out in a cave, is supposedly inspired by the persistence of a spider climbing up its web. The film prefers to plunge us into the familiar zero sum Game of Thrones territory: a violent all-or-nothing grab for power in a world of beards, smocks, priests with weird pudding-bowl fringes and tonsures, smoky outdoor fires, stray clucking chickens and great roistering feasts at which rulers and their queens exchange murmuringly significant remarks at the high table. Chris Pine is the unfeasibly handsome Robert himself, with a reasonable Scottish accent, who appears naked in a quaint bathing scene and whose rough-yet-groomed appearance must inevitably remind you of the great lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Who’s that?” – “Must be a king.” – “Why?” – “He hasn’t got shit all over him.” Pine is a sympathetic and likable Robert. Stephen Dillane brings his distinctive world-weary menace to the role of the hated English tyrant Edward I. Billy Howle is his pampered and contemptible son, Edward, Prince of Wales, jealous of Robert’s superiority in the matters of combat and masculinity. Florence Pugh is Robert’s passionate and courageous wife Elizabeth. It is good to see James Cosmo lend his weight and force to the movie as Robert’s father. Continue reading...