THE KING – Review by Susan Granger

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Netflix ventures into historical drama with David Michod and Joel Edgerton’s loose amalgam of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V, although the name of the Bard isn’t included in the credits.

Set in the early 15th century, Timothee Chalamet stars as pallid Prince Hal, the hedonistic first-born son of Henry IV (Ben Mendelsohn), who returns home as his father is dying only to discover that he’s considered such a “whoring fool” that his ambitious younger brother Thomas (Dean-Charles Chapman) will inherit the throne.

As fate would have it, Thomas subsequently dies in Wales, leaving Hal – reluctantly crowned Henry V – to decide whether to continue fighting the French in unnecessary wars: “A new chapter of my life has begun…As Prince, I spent my days drinking, clowning. Now, I find myself King.”

At Hal’s side is his battle-hardened buddy, Sir John Falstaff. (Joel Edgerton), who soon becomes the Warrior King’s most trusted confidante.

Eventually, Hal’s troops confront the French, led by snide Dauphin Louis (Robert Pattinson), the foppish, flamboyant son of King Charles VI, at a muddy bloodbath known as the Battle of Agincourt.

Although the 5,000-9,000 British were outnumbered by 12,000-30,000 French, Henry V’s army possessed a new weapon: the longbow. When the French cavalry attacked the English archers, they encountered a sea of sharpened wooden stakes and were cut down by arrows.

After that victory, Henry V captured Caen, Normandy and Rouen until Charles VI surrendered. On May 21, 1420, they signed the Treaty of Troyes, disinheriting the Dauphin, naming Henry as France’s Regent and bestowing Charles’ daughter as Henry’s bride.

King Henry V’s nine-year reign ended with his death from dysentery in 1422.

Stripped of Shakespeare’s poetic iambic pentameter and medieval perspective, it’s a ponderously paced coming-of-age saga with little effort devoted to character development. Indeed, the screen only seems to spark upon the arrival of the combative French Princess Catherine (Lily-Rose Depp).

Available for streaming, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The King is a gloomy, generic 5 – about waging endless war.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.