Film Friday: ‘Stone of Destiny’ & ‘Fired Up’

by W. Andrew Powell

Stone of Destiny

Charlie Cox in Stone of Destiny

Coming to theatres this Friday, Stone of Destiny takes a look back to 1950 when three young, Scottish nationalists tried to steal the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey. Also opening, in Fired Up, two high school students ditch their football dreams for the wonders of cheerleader camp, and Tyler Perry returns with the film version of his play, Madea Goes to Jail.

Stone of Destiny
When people talk about Scottish films, or at least films set in Scotland, the conversation often turns to the likes of Rob Roy, Braveheart, Trainspotting or even Highlander. So when a new film about one of Scotland’s most treasured artefacts debuts, it’s understandable that expectations might be a little high.

Set in 1950, Stone of Destiny is the story of Scottish national pride, which retells the story of the three young nationalists who broke into Westminster Abbey to steal the famed Stone of Destiny, better known as the Stone of Scone.

With Scotland’s national pride barely registering at the time, the story looks at the events that led three young men to try to bring their country’s national symbol back home.

Stolen by Edward I in 1296, the Stone is Scotland’s royal symbol, used during coronations since around 840 AD. After it was stolen, the Stone was held in Westminster Abbey, and placed inside a coronation chair as a symbol that the reigning monarch of England also ruled over Scotland.

Directed by Charles Martin Smith, Stone of Destiny stars Charlie Cox, Kate Mara, Billy Boyd and Robert Carlyle. The cast is a good mix of actors, who all contribute to the story, but there is no missing the film’s rather weak script. At just over an-hour-and-a-half, Stone of Destiny is not overly long, but it drags every step of the way.

There is also very little about the film that goes beyond expectations. For a film set in Scotland, you at least expect the scenery to stand out with vivid cinematography, but along with the bland story, the film disappoints in nearly every way.

Fired Up
Let’s just get this out of the way. The critics are not impressed with Fired Up.

Michael Rechtshaffen of the Hollywood Reporter called Fired Up, “An over-cranked teen comedy that only travels so far on its one-gag premise,” but are you really surprised?

In this made for teens film by first-time director Will Gluck, two high school guys (Nicholas D’Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen) ditch football camp for their dream experience: cheerleader camp. As the only two guys with this idea, this of course gives them access to a camp full of beautiful women, but what happens when one of them falls for the head cheerleader? Or when the two guys need to actually help make it into a cheer competition?

If you need a cheap laugh this weekend, or are under 20, Fired Up is probably your best bet in theatres this weekend, but I personally can’t imagine actually paying money to see this film.

Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail
Which brings me next to Tyler Perry’s latest triumph, Madea Goes to Jail.

With an 80s-inspired title, if I ever heard one, which reminds me of the time Ernest was headed to camp, and despite a critical history that would make Alan Smithee flee in terror, Tyler Perry is back with another story of that mean-spirited grandmother, Madea.

Sent off to jail thanks to a car chase on the highway, and her unfettered anger, Madea’s family rallies to set her free upon the world once more. While she is locked up, however, Madea takes a young prostitute under her wing, as an assistant district attorney works on the woman’s case.

While I am no fan of Perry’s work, the man has quite a following. A following that apparently accepts him for who he is, and whether or not he can actually make an entertaining film. Based on a lack of early reviews, I can’t say if I’m being fair or not, but with his track record I’m betting this will be more of the same.

In other words, if you enjoyed some of Perry’s previous films, like The Family That Preys, Meet the Browns, or Why Did I Get Married?, maybe you’ll like this one too.

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