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4.4 out of 5 stars
Rob Roy
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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and Rob Roy takes full advantage of this. The scenery is appropriately breathtaking and epic, with the camera making huge sweeps of the landscape. A romantic setting for a very romantic figure.
The truth of Rob Roy, like that of any folk hero, is a matter of speculation and debate. Those looking for an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's book (also fictional) will be disappointed. Scott's book takes place long after the events described in this film with Mary and Rob at the head of an outlaw band. It also stands apart from Braveheart, which takes place about four hundred years earlier, and is an entirely different period of Scottish history.
That being said, Rob Roy is a lovely film with a quiet feel and a personal story. Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as the large, honorable highlander. Tim Roth is every bit his opposite, small and dangerously deceitful. Jessica Lange, Rob's wife Mary, is stoic and strong. All the supporting players give excellent performances, both English and Scottish. The Scottish music is lovely, and the Gaelic song sung at the gathering is captivating.
The duel at the end is one of the best I have seen.
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Rob Roy, based loosely on the real life Highlander Rob Roy Macgregor, had the bad mistake of Hollywood timing. There must be a lot spy vs spy in Hollywood, industrial secrets being passed around for a price! Ever notice how if one movie company does some genre, then suddenly they all are? Well, someone whispered Mel as doing in man in a skirt drama (Kilt to you Sasunnach!) and suddenly they rushes to do another. With Rob Roy coming out at the same time, it hurt by comparison. Braveheart was a powerhouse tale of one man's fight for Scottish Freedom. Off the bat, you have a difference. Rob Roy was the story of one man's personal fight against wrongs done to him and his family. So the personal tale automatically feels "smaller". Not big battle scenes for Rob Roy. No King for an enemy, just a Scottish Noble, John Graham, Marquis of Montrose (brilliantly played by John Hurt, Ian McShane old RADA roommate!).
Still, despite the automatic comparisons between the two films (both with problems of historical inaccuracies), Rob Roy should be given a stronger look. The acting is without fault. Neeson as Rob is great (who da thunk an Irisher could do such a good Scot!). Eric Stolz, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth (so utterly despicable!) Andrew Keir (5 Million Years to Earth) and Brian Cox (the first Hannibal Lector in Manhunter, a REAL Scot mind you! He did double duty by playing Mel's Uncle in Bravenheart), gives performances that are flawless. The Highland's are filmed in breathtaking beauty, the writing is gritty, sharp with a good idea for detail. Frankly, any film that has Liam "Calling down the Gregor" commends itself to my Scot heart!
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2004
'I could not love thee (Deare) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more.'

Honor is what this one is all about. When people say 'They don't make movies like that any more', _Rob Roy_ is the kind of movie they have in mind. There are good guys and bad guys; the good guys have honor and the bad guys don't; in the end, honor wins the day, but not without a costly fight.

More concretely: Robert Roy MacGregor, clan leader and cattle herdsman, has borrowed a substantial sum of money from the Marquess of Montrose; Archibald Cunningham, a young acquaintance of the Marquess, has plotted to steal it; the Marquess will take the clan's lands if the debt can't be repaid. The MacGregor is offered a (duplicitous) way out but refuses to compromise his honor.

If that sounds like every Western you've ever seen, that's not a coincidence; director Michael Caton-Jones deliberately approached this film as a Western set in the Scottish Highlands. The story is based on a historical figure who became legendary in eighteenth-century Scotland, but this screen treatment plays very fast and loose with the actual history.

Liam Neeson is imposing and magnificent as the MacGregor, and Jessica Lange is surprisingly effective as his wife Mary (despite some inconsistency of accent). John Hurt and Tim Roth are deliciously malevolent as the pair of effeminate Sassenachs who have it in for our Rob; a more lethal pair of fops has never been seen on the silver screen. The protean Brian Cox appears as the cowardly and treacherous Killearn. And music fans, watch for Karen Matheson, who makes a brief cameo as a singer. (Capercaillie performed much of the soundtrack; that beautiful voice you hear is Matheson's. And by the way, Carter Burwell's soaring score is as gorgeous as the Scottish scenery.)

I don't know anything about swordfighting, but the blade-to-blade stuff in this film is surely some of the best (in a dramatic sense) ever committed to film. All this swashbuckling beats the heck out of the usual Western gunfights.

Unfairly eclipsed by _Braveheart_ (which was released in the same year), _Rob Roy_ is to my tastes a much better movie. This is filmmaking in the grand style.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 11, 2012
I have owned and watched this great movie on Standard Def DVD many times and thought I would buy the Blu Ray version. I am not one to provide book report summaries of plots or my opinions on acting. A review of the quality of the transfer to Blu Ray is what I will provide..

The video transfer is good, a touch soft but still good. There is a scene early on where Rob is sitting against a rock while his wife straddles him. You can see great detail in the rock itself and I saw no grain or artifacting. On the video transfer, I give this 5 star movie a 4.

The audio transfer to DTSHD 5.1 is pathetic. It is a fine example of either not bothering to remaster or just lazy audio editing. While there are a great number of scenes where discreet use of the audio channels would have been appropriate, the Blu Ray version provides almost none. There certainly is no surround sound on the Blu Ray. It was more like listening to a mono track and stereo only kicked in when the music score came on. I am very disappointed that they didn't remaster this audio as it is a quality movie that deserves so much more. The audio deserves 1 star, two at most.

There are no extras of any kind and the menu is only a cover shot with settings for audio, scene # and play.

Bottom line, if you already have Rob Roy on Standard DVD, I would not recommend its purchase on blu ray.
Hopefully, this review has been of some help to you in determining your purchase, hope I am on the correct path with a review of the transfer quality as opposed to providing plot summaries.
Thanks
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2003
Popular heroes make for great movies - this adage has held true since the days of Douglas Fairbanks's "Mark of Zorro" (1920) and "Robin Hood" (1922), and Errol Flynn's representation of the legendary Robin of Locksley 16 years later ("The Adventures of Robin Hood," 1938), and it has been reinforced again and again throughout the years. And whenever we go to see yet another screen version of the life of such a hero, regardless whether based on historic fact or popular lore, we carry certain almost instinctive expectations: the hero is to be honorable and his true love virtuous, there is to be a truly evil villain, and an abundance of sword play and other action. "Rob Roy" delivers on all of these counts; yet, it manages to be much more than a colorful costume piece with a storyline in black and white, and it differs considerably from the type of movie coined ever since the adventures of history's great heroes were first brought to the silver screen.

To begin with, Liam Neeson, in the title role, is not the slim, agile hero with lightning-quick, supple movements we have come to expect after having seen leading men such as Fairbanks, Flynn, Robert Taylor ("Ivanhoe," 1952) - and, for that matter, Richard Todd, who portrayed Robert Roy McGregor in the 1953 movie version of this story, after having played the lead in Disney's version of "Robin Hood" a year earlier. No: here, the part of the dazzling and deadly fencing champion goes to Tim Roth, who has the calculating, conceited, blonde-wigged henchman Archibald Cunningham down to absolute perfection - you just love to hate him; yet, he never becomes the embodiment of an ueber villain, and it is his utter fallibility as a human being which makes him all the more evil and despicable. The face-offs between Roth and Neeson (particularly their final duel) almost have something of an inverse David vs. Goliath feeling; making Neeson's much taller McGregor look occasionally more than just a bit disadvantaged vis-a-vis the cat-like Cunningham. Here is a hero whose greatest asset, in fencing as in other encounters with an enemy, is not his speed but his intelligence, his strength, and most of all, his undying tenacity.

Similarly, the love story between McGregor and wife Mary (Jessica Lange) is not one between two young lovers: the movie finds the couple well-settled into their marriage with several young sons. Yet, they are deeply in love, a feeling which is only reinforced by the trials and tribulations they have to overcome. The portrayal of proud Mary McGregor, unbending even in utter disgrace, is one of Jessica Lange's strongest performances careerwide, a match to Neeson's McGregor in acting skill as much as in tone, emotion and courage. And filming on location in Scotland brought an authenticity to the movie which even the best cinematography - and "Rob Roy" had excellent cinematographers in Karl Walter Lindenlaub and Roger Deakins - and costume design (Sandy Powell) alone could not have achieved. Musically, the Scottish highlands' rugged, windswept mountains and cliffs, deep lochs, and endless grey skies are matched perfectly by Carter Burwell's score and Karen Matheson's mournful ceilidhs. Strong supporting performances by John Hurt (Montrose), Andrew Keir (Argyll), Brian Cox (Killearn) and Eric Stoltz (MacDonald) round out an altogether remarkable production.

The movie takes poetic license with a number of key details; for example, the disappearance of the 1000 pounds lent to McGregor by the Marquis of Montrose (in essence, a historic fact; McGregor and the Marquis had dealt with each other in this way several times before) was probably due to the fact that McGregor's agent really did abscond with the money; not due to Killearn's and Cunningham's scheming. But the major elements of McGregor's personal story, as well as the story's historical framework are represented truthfully, taking us back into a Scotland caught between English rule, Jacobites (Scottish loyalists supporting the Stewarts' claim to the throne, like the McGregors and the Duke of Argyll) and rivaling feudal lords. And Liam Neeson, director Michael Caton-Jones and script writer Alan Sharp do an excellent job in portraying the implications of Robert McGregor's personal sense of honor, which not only required him to keep his word once it was given, be it as part of a contract or otherwise, but also forbade him to bear false witness, even at great peril to himself and his family. Because the loss of the money borrowed from Montrose meant much more to the McGregors than a business deal gone bad: as Robert had given his land as security for the money, in 18th century feudal Scotland the loss of the land not only entailed the loss of the family's economic but also that of their tenuous personal freedom, forcing them right back into the outlaw life which their clan had known only too well throughout centuries of rivalry with a powerful clan aligned with the English kings.

1995 was not only the year when Hollywood discovered Scotland's popular heroes - this movie and "Braveheart" were released in the same year, much to "Rob Roy"'s undeserved disadvantage - it was a year of extremely strong movies overall. Between the in-your-face (or rather, in-your-gut) portrayal of Scotland's 13th century hero William Wallace on the one hand and such stunners as "The Usual Suspects," "Dead Man Walking," "Leaving Las Vegas," "Sense and Sensibility" and "Casino" on the other hand, and despite all critical acclaim, "Rob Roy" was not even nominated in most Oscar categories and other awards. Yet, this rustic, lyrical version of the story of Scotland's Robin Hood (like the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, McGregor hit Montrose where he knew he would hurt him most, by going after his money) has found an undying fan base over the course of the years. I hope it will continue to grow even stronger as the years go by.

Also recommended:
Rob Roy (Oxford World's Classics)
Michael Collins
Braveheart (Special Collector's Edition)
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in History and Legend
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2000
I must admit I was a little disappointed the first time I saw "Rob Roy." It had been mistakenly advertised as "Death Wish meets Last of the Mohicans." That led me to believe it would be an "epic" similar to LOTM with lots of pitched battles and bodice-ripping romantic scenes. Instead, it was a very small story of one man's quest for honor. There were no pitched battles between highlanders and redcoats, there's barely even a skirmish. In fact, it was not an epic in any sense of the word. As a huge fan of "Last of the Mohicans," I was disappointed by its small story.
It was upon watching it a second time, that I started to appreciate it as the fine piece of filmmaking it really is: the beautiful scenery, the low key score, the touching love story between a man and his wife (that's refreshing), the very intelligent script, the witty dialogue, the rugged, realistic look of the actors (notice how Liam Neeson didn't shrink from facial hair like Daniel Day-Lewis in LOTM or Mel Gibson in Braveheart), and, of course, those villains. All three of them! Tim Roth's character may have been the most memorable, but John Hurt's and Brian Cox' were just as nefariously rotten. It also contains the greatest sword-fighting scene I have ever seen. (The director didn't cheapen it either with some sort of "Rocky-like" comeback on the part of the hero.) Overall, a first-rate story of love and honor which I foolishly failed to notice the first time I saw it. I am very glad I gave it a second chance.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2004
This was a very underrated movie, it was released at the same time as Braveheart and just wasn't able to compete with the powerhouse. Comparisons are made between Rob Roy and Braveheart, which in ways are very different movies.

First off Braveheart was on a much bigger scale, dealing with large battles and matters involving the entire country. Rob Roy is smaller in scale, dealing with the main character, the clan he is dealing with, and the lord he is endebted to. Rob Roy also occupies a different time period. In Braveheart the clan lifestyle is still living strong, in Rob Roy it is on the decline as more clansman adapt to city life.

One of the most imporatant aspects of this movie is accuracy. Braveheart while a highly enjoyable movie, was also horridly inaccurate. William Wallace didn't sack york, there was no romance between him and the princess, he didn't win by defeating cavalry, and was only rumored that he was betrayed by a noble. Rob Roy follows the history of the man in question mixing it well with the legend.

The acting is top notch all over. Jessica Lang, Liam Neeson, Tim Roth, John Hurt, and Andrew Keir all give believable and passionate performances. Tim Roth shines as the devious Archibald Cunningham, a noble boy whose ridiculously fopish and decadent exterior hide his deadly predatory nature.

The action sequences though sparce, are well choreographed. The sword fights and chases are the ones that stand out. Tim Roth shows his competence with a blade in several sequences. While Liam Neeson gets to play out Rob Roy's legendary ability to escape and elude capture.

The storyline was close to perfect in its design. The main plot centered around Rob wanting to bring his clan and supporters out of poverty. So he seeks to borrow money from the Lord Montrose. But a man in the lords staff and the cunning Archibald come up with a plan and successfully rob him of this borrowed money. The lord of Montrose feels he is being cheated and orders the arrest of Rob Roy and the seizure of his lands. Rob escapes and must figure out what happened to the money and how to clear his name while being hunted as an outlaw.

This story is pretty close to what happened to the real Rob Roy. Some of the ideas they present are disputable, but they are the same facts disputed by historians.

All in all it is a well done and well balanced film. The dvd is a bit of a dissapointment, too grainy, but the strenght of the film more than makes up for it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 6, 2011
"Rob Roy", released around the same time as the epic "Braveheart", was in a similar vein to the latter, and was eclipsed by it.

If you liked "Braveheart", you should enjoy this movie - it doesn't have large gory battle sequences or as many humorous moments, but it has stellar character performances from Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and Eric Stoltz as the good guys, and equally stellar performances from John Hurt, Brian Cox and especially Tim Roth as the bad guys. Actually, the Archie Cunningham character in "Rob Roy" is probably Tim Roth's best turn as villain ever.

Anyway, my review is for the Blu ray transfer, which is a big improvement over the original DVD release. The opening static splash shot is ominously grainy, but the movie itself looks fine.

For me, the acid test was the dank "castle" (?) scene where we first encounter Roth's character. The original DVD of that dark scene was awash in film noise and looked pretty bad. It is much improved on the Blu release.

Though not as good overall as the Blu release of "Braveheart" (which looks awesome in high def), for the money, "Rob Roy" on Blu is worth the upgrade if you are a fan.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2005
This film is a great adaptation of the Scottish legend and Sir Walter Scott's (Ivanhoe) novel of the same title. In addition to a clever screenplay and good direction, the film is complemented by a good script and outstanding performances by a seasoned cast.

The year is 1713 and Rob Roy MacGregor (Liam Neeson) is a highlander noble farmer/clan leader in dire straits. In difficulties as to paying his aristocratic lord Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt) some outstanding loans to his farm, Rob and his wife (Jessica Lange) are bullied by his patron's enforcer Cunningham (Tim Roth) who plans to run away with the money. Rob Roy resists this injustice but is soon branded an outcast and must do what he must to see that justice is done. What ensues is Rob Roy's bitter campaign of vengeance against those who have betrayed him, his wife, and his clansmen.

This is a very good film supported by the talents of first class actors: especially Tim Roth as the scoundrelous bully. The plot is well paced and the cinematography is excellent. I found this film to be of much greater quality than 'Braveheart' in every respect: especially in terms of acting. This is a good film to either rent or own.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2011
Please note: My review pertains only to the Blu-ray picture quality, not the plot of the film.

It's been years since I last watched my DVD copy of Rob Roy. Most recently I decided to watch this very fine film only to be shocked at the horrible quality of the print. I've seen better quality prints from 70 year old films. When I learned that Rob Roy was being released on Blu-ray, at a very reasonable price, I decided to take a chance. I'm glad that I took that chance because the picture quality is so much better; it's not mind-blowing great, but compared to the blurry and grainy DVD the Blu-ray is a vast improvement. If you love this film, do yourself a favor and get the Blu-ray version.
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