Cinema Perception: “The King” review: hail King Henry!

Image in Public Domain (CC0 1.0).

Hello fellow readers and welcome to my first column article, Cinema Perception, for the Quad newspaper. Under this column, I will write about a notable film that recently came out, discuss its pros and cons and provide my overall recommendation of the film. Also, preferred films will be at the end of this review,  regarding the selected genre. To those wondering if there are any spoilers present in this column, I can assure you that there will be none. If there is, it will only be something minor, but nothing major in regard to the plot. Although this is only a critical review of a selected film, I would definitely recommend anyone to see the actual film in order to gather a different perspective. After all, with great knowledge comes great responsibility. So sit back and relax as I tell you my highlights. For this issue, I will discuss Netflix’s new original film on “The King.”

Set during medieval times, “The King” follows the story of King Henry V and his noble quest to achieve everlasting peace in Europe. As a medieval fan myself, I pondered on who King Henry V really was, how his role impacted Europe and why Henry desired peace rather than war. Before I saw the film, I came to believe that this might be some form of “Game of Thrones” after watching the premiere trailer. After watching the film, I was greatly entertained, but sorely disappointed on minor elements like combat and pacing.

To start, the film does a grand job in providing a well thought out plot that leaves the audience guessing over who would live and die in the show. I found it riveting to ponder what would become of Henry throughout the film, as well as who the main villain really was. Other than the film’s plot, costume design and cinematography were a plus for the historical background to Henry’s story and how medieval battles were actually fought at the time. The film even had a diverse cast that did a superb job in representing their historical actors. I would not have guessed that Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp, and Robert Patterson would be playing in the film. On a personal note, I felt Timothee Chalamet’s interpretation of Hal, who becomes King Henry V, gave me some distinct sense understanding his character’s behavior and actions throughout the film.

Overall, ‘The King’ does live up to its reputation as being a decent historical film, even though the film had a long premise, minimized action scenes and no after credits scene.

Despite having many positives, the film also had certain drawbacks. Throughout the film, I found the actual pacing to be a main concern. For instance, at the start of the first half, there were a lot of dialog scenes between each character and minor scenes of action. Due to having dialogue scenes with important characters, this caused the film to draw at a longer pace. When I watched this film with my dad, I believed that the film was actually a mini-series that Netflix made up. As the film clocked over an hour, I found out that the show was indeed a film.

Personally, this film might have been better as a mini-series since it added more depth to the plot and their main characters. The looming question that I had as a historian was if this film was a true story of Henry V’s life. According to a news article by Alex Nelson, the answer remains mixed – since the premise was loosely based on “Shakespeare’s group of historical plays called The Henriad.” Generally put, the film is not a historical documentary, but a film half-based on fact and half pure Hollywood magic.

Image in Public Domain (CC0 1.0)

As it came to the second part, however, the action scenes with the English fighting the French forces made up for the lost time from the dialogue. In my opinion, had the film had more action and less dialogue, the plot would probably be comparable to a “King Arthur” film. Another drawback that the film had was the film’s villain. Yes, there was blood and murder, but when The Dauphin, played by Patterson, meets up with Henry V to insult him, I felt that this interaction between them was mild and not thought out. The last drawback with this film had to do with its ending. I personally wanted an actual biography after what became of King Henry V in the credits. To my dismay, there was none given which left me to wonder about the historical character of Henry V.

Overall, “The King” does live up to its reputation as being a decent historical film, even though the film had a long premise, minimized action scenes and no after credits scene. For history fans, this film is definitely interesting to see, but to those that want a better historical film, I suggest one of Oliver Stone’s films to garner on drama and suspense. For those that have thoughts or comments about the film’s review, feel free to email me at my WCU email for your deep insight about the film. Until the next issue for the Quad newspaper, this is Nicholas Bartelmo signing off from Cinema Perception.

Nicholas Bartelmo is a fourth-year student majoring in history. NB790429@wcupa.edu

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