A Scottish tale that grips the heart and haunts the soul.
There's an old song from Scottish lore called "Loch Lomond," about lovers parted by war and society. In the movie Legend of Loch Lomond, a present day lad and lassie may be able to reunite these lovers, torn apart by Highlander uprisings in the late 1500s. This film, the first IMAX film made in Scotland, uses the giant-screen format to show off the bonnie banks of the country, and to tell the story of a romance that has survived time. Or…something like that. SlingShot Entertainment brings Legend of Loch Lomond to DVD.
Facts of the Case
It's an old song sung many a time by the Scots (apparently…I dated a Scottish guy for a year and didn't hear a thing about it, but he wasn't much of a singer): Loch Lomond. Legend of Loch Lomond tells the story of a beautiful landowner's daughter, Moira, who falls in love with a brave, poor, slightly pudgy Highlander, Allan. The ballad tells of their union and cruel separation when he dies at the gallows at the hands of the enemy.
Meanwhile, a girl band called Shindig (must be a thrash punk band from the sound of it) has a gig at some big, creepy old castle that—gasp!—happens to be the scene of Allan's death. Perhaps that is why Mary (Kristy Mitchell) keeps seeing images of the woman, Moira, who is still seeking her lover. Mary runs into a handsome be-kilted (woo!) stranger, Robby (Stuart Studair), and he implores her to help the couple reunite. He's been waiting for someone like her, she says, to help reunite these long-dead apparitions. Uh, great, fella, thanks for totally creeping me out, she says at first. Not those exact words, but you know what I mean. Finally, obviously figuring her hallucinations of Moira have nothing to do with that "peace pipe" Shindig's bass player passed around in the van, but are not hallucinations at all, Mary leaves her gig to go find Allan. Like literally leaves her gig in the middle of the song. Some professional!
IMAX is a beautiful thing—there's nothing like giant film negative to create cinematic beauty. And what better beauty to capture than glorious Scottish hillsides?
The story here is best described as cheesy and trite, but the photography is luxurious. It lends the story a little veracity, although the film ends abruptly after a quick "ghost rescue" and no hanky panky between Mary and Robby. Not one kiss. C'mon, Mary, you got a cute guy in a kilt, for God's sakes! The film clocks in under an hour, and it really needed more oomph to leave me satisfied. "Allan, meet Moira again, Moira, let me reintroduce you to Allan. All right, ghosts, carry on!" But damn, the scenery is just gorgeous.
Though the film had to be translated to a 1.33:1 full-screen format, it more than demonstrates the ability of IMAX to capture broad landscapes. The colors here are stunning, if a bit dull in the darks; blacks could be a little fuzzy, and I noticed some dullness in gray light. Overall, the greens and browns of the landscape were gorgeous. Because of the large negative and eagerness to catch wide expanse of screen, more intimate scenes—such as when Mary is playing the fateful ballad with her band at the dance—are not treated as such. There are no close-ups on Mary, we can barely see her facial expressions; this deadens the already limited emotional impact of the story.
Both the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mixes are good, though I've heard better 5.1 surround mixes in the past. Both mixes are still a little too front-based, but sounds were sharp and clear. In scenes with "live" music, I felt there could be some better blending, as the music sounded a bit tacked on and not fully integrated with crowd noise.
Extras were sufficient, including an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the film. We see how helicopters were used, how scenes were composed, and the before-and-after dissolves of scenes. Story background is provided by producers and others involved with the film. However, we still don't know why Mary and Robby never hooked up. Are Scottish people adverse to a little sex in their movies? Well, call me American, but it would have been nice to see them exchange a little more than a pat on the back. Then again, this is IMAX, films of which are often shown at family venues like museums. Hence, no sex appeal.
A trailer is included, as well as a lovely sing-a-long to the ballad "Loch Lomond" itself. I admit it, I sat through this one. Hey, it's a good song! "You take the high road, and I'll take the low road…"uh. I'll shut up now.
Story-wise, a little cheesy, not a fleshed out story; could have used more romantic oomph. You know, make it a chick flick. Rather, this story was merely a vehicle for the IMAX film technique to show its stuff. Still, you can't get shots of Scottish landscape like this everyday.
If you're Scottish and a big fan of IMAX, go for it. Otherwise? For most jurors, this is one you'll want to pass up. Sentenced to viewing the IMAX film of "N'SYNC LIVE"!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Slingshot Entertainment
• Theatrical Trailer
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