The King dropped on Netflix on November 1st. And it is a truly great film. Here are 3 things to love about it.
The King, starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, and Rober Pattinson, is based on Shakespeare’s depiction of events that took place in England. In other words, it is fictional history. Very stretched. By the time it gets to Netflix, the story has gone through two entertainment-based filters — Sheakspeares and Netflix’s. Therefore, it’s best to think of it as fiction as to not get frustrated with how well it does or does not match with past events.
The thing about it that was real was the battle of Agincourt — a battle England fought against the French in the 100 years war, per Cosmopolitan. That said, this movie was awesome. Here are seven things to love about it.
- Having a scrappy King as opposed to the stereotypical massive gentleman.
Having Timothée Chalamet play the lead as King Henry (Hal) flies in the face of what you would expect out of a movie like this. Chris Pine in Outlaw King stays true to the “big guy” look you would expect from a lead character (no shade here — that movie was awesome). Gerard Butler, the star of 300, fits the look you would expect as well. In fact, Joel Edgerton, who played a co-starring, sidekick role in this movie, would have also fit that look. But Netflix went with Timothée Chalamet instead. And I think that’s awesome! The kid barely looked a dime above 130 lbs. But nevertheless, it worked really well! They also adopted a different fight style for him that fit his body style — a fighting style that I’ve never really seen portrayed before in a medieval movie — and that’s a fast, agile, lean mass fight style akin to a lightweight scrapper. They didn’t have him brawling; they had him out-pacing his opponents. Exhausting them. Bringing them down with meer stamina. The fact of the matter is, that’s how fighting works. The little guy will usually outdo the big guy in a real scrap, and that’s what they showed him doing in the movie. He was taking down full-grown men. Though the movie is fictional, that portrayal of fight science is not. The little guy will usually outpace the big guy if he can survive early punishment. When Hal would fight, it looked like medieval MMA. He was, in a sense, a jiu-jitsu fighter wearing armor. It was very cool to see, and it was very original. Netflix deserves serious Kudos for their out-of-the-box thinking on that.
2. The film takes violence to task
In a movie like this, a medieval action/war movie, you know there will be fighting. That is often the whole draw. Boom, pow, smack. And there is a lot of fighting. So don’t worry, guys. There is all the action you need. But this movie, unlike some movies, doesn’t romanticize violence and killing. Instead, it shows violence for what it is: sad. You see violence take a toll on the characters throughout the movie. You also see Hal (King Henry) go from a peacemaker to a warmonger after being influenced by his inner circle to react to (supposed) French provocation. And you see him become obsessed with power, slowly but surely. He starts out reasonable, but he takes a left turn as soon as the crown hits his head. These are real life lessons about the human condition. Power and money destroy men faster than sickness. And this was shown in full here. In the movie, you also see Joel Edgerton’s character, John Falstaff, suffering under the weight of the killing he had done in battle prior to coming in contact with Hal. There was real thought put into the way violence was portrayed in this movie.
3. It shows a young king making young men’s mistakes
Hal started out wiser than he became in the movie. He was actually a very wise kid before the crown was placed on his head. But his inner circle fooled him and influenced him, to the point of deception, to go to war with France because there was something in it for them: financial gain. Major spoiler — the motive for going to war with France was a false presumption. But this movie showed how hundreds of thousands of lives can easily be affected by one lie. This is the world we live in. Many things have changed since the time of knights and swords, but that has not changed. The pride of men and the love of money causes people to forego the very things that make them human, turning them into animals hell-bent on gaining resources at any expense. Our protagonist learns this the hard way, and he pays the price for it. Again, you don’t often see this level of thought portrayed in a war movie.
Bottom line: The movie was awesome.
Other points of praise I have include the dialogue, the acting, the scenery, and the incredible fight choreography. It was also dense with rich story development and rivalry. Netflix did an excellent job with this one.