The Movie Waffler Now On Netflix - THE KING | The Movie Waffler

Now On Netflix - THE KING

the king netflix review
Learning of an assassination plot, the young King Henry V invades France.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: David Michôd

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Timothée Chalamet, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton, Lily-Rose Depp, Thomasin McKenzie, Sean Harris

the king netflix poster

Following their collaboration on the 2014 post-apocalyptic drama The Rover, the triumvirate of director David Michôd, co-writer Joel Edgerton (also acting here) and star Robert Pattinson reunite for The King, a polished historical drama that offers some fresh insights on its chosen period but whose overall narrative feels a tad redundant.

the king review

The titular monarch is England's Henry V (Timothée Chalamet), who reluctantly ascends to the throne following the death of his father, Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn). Young Henry, or 'Hal' to his mates, had been enjoying a carefree life of drinking and whoring prior to becoming the ruler of his land, and there are those who view him as unfit to rule. Soon Hal is quashing uprisings among his own people and invading France following a failed assassination attempt.

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Michôd and Edgerton's script is loosely based on Shakespeare's plays 'Henry IV: Parts 1 & 2' and 'Henry V'. They've dropped the Shakespearean language and replaced it with a curious approximation of Ye Olde English that sounds somewhat like the dialogue you might have heard in a Robin Hood adventure from the '40s. While it's not entirely convincing from the point of view of historical accuracy, there are some very witty lines on offer here, with Edgerton seeming to save the best quotes for his John Falstaff, Hal's chief adviser and close friend. Edgerton's Brian Blessed tinged performance keeps things lively, and his jovial presence is an asset in some of the more densely written scenes, as this is a movie that forces its characters to spew out an awful lot of exposition.

the king review

Even if you're not familiar with the Shakespearean works The King is riffing on here, you'll likely get the feeling that you've witnessed this story before. Its tale of political double-crossing interspersed with bloody battles will probably feel particularly familiar to fans of Game of Thrones, which let's face it, is no doubt the reason The King was greenlit. For a film with such dense plotting, it's all very predictable, and the movie seems a little too pleased with itself when it reveals 'twists' that we saw coming an hour previously.

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Yet while The King offers little new from a plot perspective, it does give us some fascinating period details that are usually overlooked by dramas of this ilk. For a start, you won't find any veteran actors here, as true to the period, 'old age' here means you're in your fifties. It's a shock at first to see Mendelsohn's Henry IV described as being at the end of his life, but then you remember that in this period few lived past their 40th birthday. There's a duel between Hal and a young usurper that plays out like a schoolyard brawl, two men awkwardly holding onto each other in an attempt to avoid being struck, and while it seems comedic, I suspect it's an accurate representation of how such bouts between toffs really played out. Attention is also given to the scientific advances of the time, with Hal and his court bewildered by the gift of a wind-up toy bird from the technologically advanced Italians, and giant catapults looming over battlefields like the At-Ats of The Empire Strikes Back.

the king review

In recent times we've become accustomed to American historical dramas in which most of the characters are played by actors from elsewhere in the English speaking world, but it's odd to see iconic English figures essayed by a selection of Americans, Aussies and Kiwis here. The biggest English star on the roster, Pattinson, is bizarrely cast as the French prince 'The Dauphin', and his performance and accent are so over-the-top he appears to have wandered in from a Monty Python sketch. The King's portrayal of Hal's invasion of France is so one-sided in favour of the English that I imagine the movie might cause riots if screened in Parisian cinemas. Where Hal is noble and stoic, The Dauphin is a clownish man-child, a crude cheese eating surrender monkey stereotype. I'd be lying if I said Pattinson's laughable performance didn't liven up the proceedings though, as whenever himself and Edgerton are absent, The King can be quite the slog.

The King is on Netflix UK now.

2019 movie reviews