Rating 5/10 (Underwhelming Medieval Drama)
Cast: Timothee Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Sean Harris, Thomasin Mckenzie, Lily-Rose Depp, Dean Charles Chapman
Director: David Michod
Writers: Joel Edgerton and David Michod
Based on: Henry IV Part 1 and 2, Henry V by William Shakespeare
Cinematography: Adam Arkapaw
Editor: Peter Sciberras
Music: Nicholas Britell
Producers: Brad Pitt,Dede Gardner,Jeremy Kleiner,Liz Watts,David Michôd, Joel Edgerton
Runtime: 140 mins
Shakespeare is often called the greatest writer of all time. So what happens when you adapt his work and make it into a political drama with no high moments overall? The result is Netflix's The King.
For every film, you have people who like it and dislike it. I didn't dislike The King. But I wouldn't say it's good either. Writers David Michod and Joel Edgerton have stripped away the iambic pentameter and immersive nature of Shakespeare and the narrative is so overly serious and long you just feel exhausted by the end.
The King is about King Henry V (Timothee Chalamet) and his ascension and rule to power as his father is slowly losing his health and grip on the throne. What follows is his journey and the internal politics that he traverses as the new King of England.
Timothee Chalamet makes a triumphant return to the screen after another stunning performance in Beautiful Boy. Chalamet is simply sensational as Hal and brings all his talents and acting prowess and delivers another powerhouse performance establishing himself as a true acting talent in Hollywood. Many people and colleagues of his have stated he is this generation's Leonardo Dicaprio and The King does more than enough to justify that argument. Chalamet makes the most simple scene seem incredible and filled with emotion. The accent and transformation into the character is impeccable and he's really the only reason one would even consider watching this movie. However with the physique of a stick figure, watching him fight and winning battles is quite unbelievable.
The rest of the cast of Sean Harris as the aide, Joel Edgerton as the mentor, Ben Mendelsohn as the father King Henry IV all deliver sincere performances. Mendelsohn in particular is becoming synonymous with playing cold blooded and ruthless characters with the utmost convincing in each passing film.
It seems to be the time of the Pattinson bandwagon and I'm a changed man after watching The Lighthouse. Pattinson is hilariously convincing as a French Dauphin with a ridiculous French accent and funny antics that provide the only comic relief in an otherwise bland film. The sliding in the mud later on is surely to make you laugh as well. His mere presence is all of 3 scenes but he steals the show in every single one.
David Michod's 9th directorial venture is an attempt to serve the audience a very Game of Thrones type narrative and be engaging. Unfortunately he doesn't succeed. The King feels greater in moments than as a whole. The entire narrative starts off well and treads a familiar path in a son succeeding his father for a throne.
Either the writers were staying too true to the source material or they just removed any fun from the experience but the film is not engaging whatsoever. At times it's extremely slow and snail paced. And overly serious. The brilliance of Game of Thrones was that it was able to transcend non fantasy lovers and bring them into a world and care about the characters.
The King succeeds on most fronts in terms of characters, setup, feel, and action sequences. But what it lacks is an engaging story that's good enough to keep the audience interested till the very end and just leaves them looking at their watch half the time. Blame it on the script or the direction. But somebody is at fault here.
Technicality wise, The King does not disappoint. Music by Nicholas Britell serves up a haunting and reflective score perfectly capturing the essence of 15th century England. Cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is often gloomy and shows what the Middle Ages were to supposed to be like. A grey color scheme is mostly used throughout the film. Special mention to the Production Designer Fiona Crombie and Costume Designer Jane Petrie. Their work is simply outstanding and it gives the production a very realistic and aesthetic look in tune with the film's period setting. Sound Mixing is very good. Action Sequences are well shot. The Production Values by Brad Pitt and the other producers are extravagant.
Coming to the flaws, it's really the direction that's a bummer. The setup and period setting work well but all that's missing is that engaging story that could have made this movie so much more. However, Chalamet does his best and roars in his role which makes it wactable to an extent. The hierarchal politics take too much time out the film's plot and this is perhaps the biggest problem. Or maybe it's just my cynical mind complaining about pace once again.
Overall, The King is an underwhelming Medieval drama from Netflix. Timothee Chalamet delivers a flawless performance as usual, but the film is too long and drawn out and rarely has any high moments in a runtime which feels like an eternity.
Watch it only if you like Medieval dramas or you're a fan of Timothee Chalamet. Honestly, you're not losing much besides 2.5 hours you'll never get back in your life. See if you can spot the joke.