The Last King of Scotland (Blu-ray Review)

The Last King of Scotland (Blu-ray Review)2006 was a remarkable year in cinema, easily the best of the past decade.  A year of dark, meaningful films, with remarkable performances; all of which were trumped by the astounding Forest Whitaker’s Oscar winning performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in Kevin MacDonald’s The Last King of Scotland.  Most actors find it easy to impersonate historical figures, but only rarely do few find themselves acting as historical figure-incarnate, as Whitaker has done to perfection here.


There have been a few liberties taken with the true story, written by Jeremy Brock and Peter Morgan, the ladder of which also wrote the “inspired by true events” Frost/Nixon.  Macdonald’s focus seems to want to include a relationship with his homeland of Glasgow, Scotland, where co-star James McAvoy also hails from.  The narrative of the film must have mirrored what the times were like for the people of Uganda; beginning with Amin’s coup in 1971, with what seems like a promising new regime, to his brutal military reign with the reported deaths ranged from 100,000 to Half a million Ugandans.

Whitaker’s performance is one of a paranoid, fierce, and atrocious man, who will do anything to keep power.  The film is not necessarily the greatest of stories, it’s a bit contrived and predictable, and ultimately can’t keep up Whitaker, but it’s still a decent watch.  About an hour into the film, when Amin is almost assassinated, the paranoia and viciousness of Whitaker is visualized with the cinematography and while the remainder of the film can be difficult to watch at times, it grabs you by the throat and relentlessly squeezes you until the ending credits.

The Last King of Scotland  


I didn’t give up on DVDs to watch two hours of grain.  The 2.35:1 Widescreen, 30 MBPS AVC ratio was the most disappointing aspect of this Blu-ray.  The opening moments of Scotland were shown with a depth and beauty not often seen on screen, but the remainder is much of a letdown.  The scenes that are contained within a controllable environment are the best, visually, while the ones that take place outside in the country are the worst.  And since the majority of the film is shown out in the country, this brings about the problem.

 The Last King of Scotland


This was the best part, technically, of the film.  Most of the film has no music and relies heavily on dialogue, so some of the early, quiet scenes were a bit difficult to hear.  But as the film moves along, the DTS-HD Master Audio rings through your ears with absolute clearness.  When there’s gunfire, the sounds of bullets go flying around your head.  When the African drums are in full rhythm, you want to move to their beat.  And when the scenes of torture and gore are on screen, apart of you wants to hit mute because you can almost feel the pain of McAvoy’s character through his excruciating circumstances.

The Last King of Scotland

Special Features 

Optional Commentary by Director Kevin Macdonald

7 Deleted Scenes w/ Optional Commentary by Director Kevin Macdonald – I’ve never been a fan of deleted scenes.  I skipped over these.  If it’s not in the movie, then what’s the point to even show these?

Forest Whitaker Idi Amin Featurette – A quick 6 minute interview with Whitaker and McAvoy and what they knew going into the filming of this figure, and of what they feel the film’s emotional narrative is focused on.  They both felt it was very important that this wasn’t just a demonization of Amin, to more forcefully tell this particular story.

Capturing Idi Amin Documentary – a 30-minute documentary focusing on the making on the movie within a modern-day Uganda, and the cultural impact the making of this film held between those who were alive during Amin’s time and those who had never heard of him.  Some still actually view Amin as a hero and wish he were still in power.  Very, very intriguing and the bet part about this disc.

Fox Movie Channel presets Casting Session: The Last King of ScotlandThis 8 minute round up interview has been ripped from TV.  The filmmakers were worried that they wouldn’t be able to actually make this film unless they cast Amin perfectly.  With an Oscar Win for Whitaker, I’d say they got it right.

Theatrical TrailerIf you need help knowing what this must be, then I don’t know how you’re even using a computer right now

The Last King of Scotland

Final Thoughts  

I liked this movie when it first came out, and it’s still a decent film.  If you’re a Blu-ray enthusiast, this is a bit of a let down, but still worth a rent for Whitaker’s performance alone.


Bring home The Last King of Scotland on Blu-ray today!



The Last King of Scotland Blu-ray Cover Art



1 Response to “The Last King of Scotland (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    Great detail in the review! I agree that it is extremely disappointing when a Blu-ray hardly looks any better than the DVD. Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Blu-ray instantly comes to mind. One only hopes that the audio at least packs a punch then.