The King is based on the plays by William Shakespeare, known collectively as Henriad. Focusing on the rise to power of Henry V and the conquest against the French that led to their defeat at the Battle of Agincourt. This is a story that has been made into film many times, with some of the biggest names in cinema cast as Henry.
This brand new production pulls out all the stops, with a powerful cast and brilliantly directed by Australian director David Michôd. Michôd teamed up with Joel Edgerton to co-write and produce the film along with Brad Pitt and Liz Watts. Known for the acclaimed film Animal Kingdom, Michôd displays great skill in representing tales of loyalty and corruption.
David Michôd has built a great working relationship with some of the biggest names in cinema. So it's no surprise to see the likes of Ben Mendelsohn and Joel Egerton giving such powerful performances. For me, Mendelsohn is one of the biggest talents around and he gives another outstanding performance in The King. But it is Edgerton who really steals the show playing a unique take on the character Falstaff. That's not to say the rest of the cast is weak, because that is far from the truth. Timothée Chalamet (Dune) gives a fine performance as Henry and Robert Pattinson gives a truly surprising take on the Dauphin.
A real standout of the film is the quality of the cinematography. Adam Arkapaw screens the whole thing with a wonderful greyed out palette and manages to create realism to the battle scenes that immerse the viewer right into the heart of the action. These are not the usual glory scenes, more a murderous muddy mosh pit. That truly represents how if must have been to fight in battle in the fifteenth century.
The catch is, that The King could be criticized for not being true to the original story. Firstly, Edgerton's Falstaff is very much a new take on the character. Secondly, key elements such as Henry talking with his soldiers the night before the battle are pulled from this production. As are characters like Fluellen and Pistol. Also, it could be said that the film drags somewhat in sections and at two hours twenty minutes in length it could have been made a little shorter.
However, overall The King is a great cinematic experience. This is an epic tale told in an epic way. All topped off with some of the finest acting that you will ever experience. So forget about the inaccuracies and give The King a go, it's easily one of the best Netflix productions made so far.