Thursday, November 7, 2019

Review: Netflix's "The King" is an intense history lesson

The King Review

Its a curse the rate Netflix releases original content, because its really easy for good stuff to get lost. I want people to check out "The King." Its got a great cast, some good cinematography. I am not exactly sure just how historically accurate much or any of the movie is. I know its based on a William Shakespeare play, so take that what you will. But hey, when can historical accuracy really play into many of these movies?

Produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B studios, "The King" tells the story of the rise of King Henry V and his campaigns in France. Ben Mendelsohn plays King Henry IV, and at the beginning of this movie he's this smarmy guy obsessed with war. He plays King Henry IV with all the smarmy glee that we've seen Mendelsohn muster over the last few years now. His own allies challenge the need for war and getting what they deserve for helping him, but King Henry isn't interested. Eventually his allies turn on him, and a drunk, burly Prince Henry V (Timothee Chalamet) steps in to stop the bloodshed, in a one-on-one fight with the other commander.

As King Henry IV's health begins to decline, Prince Henry V is usually absent. He has never agreed with his father on how to rule, and he's been well aware of the deceit that clouded IV rule. Henry V doesn't want that title, he doesn't want to rule, though circumstances will eventually lead him to do so. Eventually the two things Henry V wanted to stay away from, war and deceit become shining definitions of his own rule.

The acting, all across the board, is phenomenal. But lets start with Robert Pattinson, because his career has been a gold mine of performances recently. He plays a French Prince that tries very hard to intimidate Henry V to keep him out of France, even though France supposedly challenged him. Pattinson's work in this movie is unreal, I can't explain it any other way. He's got a crazy French accent, and while I have seen and understand criticism that has been floating around the accent, I dug it. He giggles and he acts like a total madman. I love that there still naysayers out there regarding his Batman role. Because recently, no two roles of his have been alike. "Good Time," "The Rover," "The Lost City of Z," "High Life," "The Lighthouse," and now this. No two roles are alike and he's building a very unique filmography here.

Joel Edgerton, always reliable, gives a splendid performance as Falstaff, a character that has shown up in a couple of Shakespeare's plays. He's quite good. Jared Harris. Thomasin McKenzie. Dean-Charles Chapman. These are some actors who we recognize and all do to-notch work here. Within the wonderous sets and backdrops, this is another one of those time machine movies that work really well.

It does feel a little long at almost two and half hours. There is a slow stretch of film before it really gets to the good stuff. There is also an epic battle scene, but also one of those scenes where you can't figure out who is on whose side. It seems like everything is a lead up to the final five to ten minutes, and that is what made the movie something of note. No matter what we try to do, living in a world of monarch's brought out the worst in people. Sometimes becoming what we don't want to be was unavoidable. I don't know how much of it is real, I'm sure there was plenty there that was for show. At the end of the day, "The King" is gritty entertainment.

FINAL GRADE: B

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