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Netflix's upcoming Outlaw King, which hits the streaming service and select theaters on November 9, has drawn inevitable comparisons to Mel Gibson's Braveheart because both films deal with the Scottish Wars of Independence. But while the two films are set in the same historical period, these are two very different movies. For star Chris Pine, who plays Robert the Bruce in the film, Outlaw King stands apart from Braveheart by telling a less romanticized story, as he explained to CinemaBlend:
The type of filmmaking is very vastly different. You have one, I think, which really hits all of the kind of notes of a Hollywood, huge-swelling music, huge score, a beautifully moral hero... David [Mackenzie] doesn't like schmaltz, and he doesn't like to give anything on a silver platter, I think he likes to make you hunt for your version of the story.
According to Chris Pine, the biggest difference seems to come down to the way these respective films tell their stories. He highlights how Braveheart has all the hallmarks of a classic Hollywood epic with rousing music and a good guy hero you can root for. The good guys are the good guys, and the bad guys are the bad guys, and you can watch William Wallace (Mel Gibson) make a stirring speech and then cheer when he and his army kill a bunch of guys.
Outlaw King apparently sets itself apart in this respect by not going for the cheap pop. Chris Pine told CinemaBlend during a recent press event in Scotland that director David Mackenzie doesn't like schmaltz and indicates that this film will not be so morally black and white. Outlaw King isn't going to tell you how to feel, it's going to make you work for it and decide yourself.
Chris Pine also mentioned that he wants the audience to feel "exhausted" by the end of Outlaw King. I take his comments to mean that the Netflix film is very gritty and bloody and more representative of the real horrors of war. Considering that Braveheart was far from a PG movie, that's saying something.
During his exclusive interview with the cast in Scotland, CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg also had the pleasure of speaking with Outlaw King's director David Mackenzie, who offered his take on the two films:
I suppose in some way, Robert has a small and not particularly accurate role in one film, and Wallace has a very small role in our film. So there is a crossover, it's the same period and in effect they were fighting for the same thing. Robert was successful, William wasn't, that's a difference. The film has kind of moved on from there in a way, and I think that the cinematic style is different, I think even 10 years ago it felt dated.
On its surface, Outlaw King could be considered a spiritual sequel to Braveheart in that it follows Robert the Bruce while Braveheart followed William Wallace. The two figures appear in both films, but the stories each film is telling are different. It seems like Outlaw King may also be a bit more accurate historically than the Best Picture winner was.
David Mackenzie also speaks to the cinematic style being different and that's something Chris Pine also touched on, indicating that this film will feel a bit more modern. That should give Outlaw King a different look and feel than its predecessor. Just from the trailers you can tell that Outlaw King is not a remake of Braveheart or an imitation. It is telling a very different story in a different way and perhaps these two will still make for a fun (and long) double feature.
You can check out Eric's interview with David Mackenzie, Chris Pine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the video below.