The Last Kingdom weaves together fictional characters and historical events. This creates a highly dramatised screen version of the book written by Bernard Cornwell. Part of the Saxon Series set between 800 and 900 AD, we follow the life of Uhthred Ragnarson.
Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is captured by Ragnar from his homelands in Northumbria. Uthred goes on to become a great warrior through his Danish upbringing. But his loyalties are questioned when he returns to England creating an alignment with King Alfred of Wessex to regain his birthright.
This is a joint production between the BBC and Netflix with the show now in its third season. First screened in 2015 this epic tale was clearly targeting the success achieved by the likes of Game of Thrones or Vikings. The cast is incredibly strong with great performances from Ian Hart, David Dawson, Emily Cox and Rutger Hauer. But the lead role played by Alexander Dreymon seems to fall short of the rest. And if it was not for the other solid performances it probably wouldn't be anywhere near as good as it is.
The production is good. But somehow it feels just like any other BBC period drama. Sadly, it never quite generates a big screen feel in the way that Game of Thrones does. There is more than enough blood and guts though, with some excellently shot battle scenes that give some authentic feel to the show. However some of the costumes look drastically out of place. In particular, the clothing, the makeup and sword used by the hero Uthred look ridiculous for the period it is set in. Think more eighties fantasy movie rather than a Viking battle god.
Overall the show is entertaining. If you are looking for something new to binge on Netflix, then I would recommend you give it a go. With eight episodes in each season and all lasting up to an hour, there is plenty to get your teeth into. But do not expect the same visual value that you may be used to, from the likes of Game of Thrones and Vikings.