How come nobody is talking more about this historical drama epic of Henry V, Prince of Whales, that was just released on Netflix this past weekend? Another question: why isn’t anyone talking about Robert Pattinson’s over the top deliciously awesome off the wall bonkers supporting performance as The Dauphin of France in this? If you haven’t check out THE KING on Netflix yet, do so. Yes, it is 2 hrs and 20 minutes long (minus about 8-9 minutes of end credits) but you don’t feel the length at all. It is probably the most watchable medieval epic of it’s kind since Kingdom of Heaven (THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, not that awful theatrical garbage version). With these kind of period piece epic films, it usually only takes me 10-15 to know whether I am going to come out loving/liking it to being 100% absolutely bored. I knew in 5 minutes that I was hooked. The film tries not to be overly complicated on its audience, a very smart move indeed. It is entertaining as hell, has a great score, and has some supremely masterful sequences. Just another film that shows that Netflix maybe starting to take things seriously with this whole streaming wars coming to fruition.
The movie is based on several plays from William Shakespeare’s “Henriad”, which chronicles Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, of which I am not familiar. This film chronicles the origin of Henry V and his invasion of France. Timothe Chalamet stars as the titular hero, one who doesn’t want the crown at first, but after his father dies, assumes leadership and very quickly has to get it together for England and its people. considering he disagreed with many of his fathers decisions. The ruler of France keeps taunting and threatening Henry V, and while he doesn’t want to go to war at first, the escalation goes quickly out of hand to where it no longer can be ignored. Henry, or “Hal” to his close friends, feels like there isn’t that many people to trust, and he has to navigate the new world given to him without getting manipulated or killed in the process. Usually a film to this degree would be about 3 hours, with the droning on and on of politics. The King says “fuck you” to that by getting down to business early on and never letting up. The film doesn’t have much flashy dialogue that would make it hard for audiences to get into, but it does have solid dialogue, makes the viewer understand what is going on and not make one decipher every sentence like they probably had to do in English class during high school.
There are some spectacular sequences in this too. My favorite would have to be when Henry V and his army reaching the castle of Harfluer and then seizing it by throwing endless balls of fire at it using trebuchets. Another sequences, very late into the film, showing Henry V going into a giant battle, and all in this one take, showing him killing the enemy while almost being killed himself, in a sea of armored clad men with no faces. There is even a Raiders of the Lost Ark comedy duel late in the game that I won’t ruin for spoiler reasons, but needless to say, a lot of movies have tried to copy this classic Spielberg scene, but none have done so hilariously while still be executed a bit differently. There are more than just those three, but needless to say the cinematography in this is quite good considering it is Netflix that financed the film. Like I said above, the movie doesn’t feel its length. There is enough interesting battles, conversations, treasons, and scene stealing acting to get you through it rather quickly.
Let’s talk about the acting. Timothe Chalamet is a great actor, let me just point to his incredible performance in Call Me By Your Name. He also looks like he is going to do a great job later this year in Little Women. And he is good here too (and has an excellent before battle speech), but the movie is completely stolen from him by two supporting roles: that of the always reliable Joel Egerton, who plays Falstaff, a once drunkard warrior who becomes Henry V right hand man, and Robert Pattinson, who plays The Dauphin. Egerton has the more meatier role, spouting off military strategies but also handing out life lessons to those around him, fascinating even when not a word is spoken from him. But I really want to talk about Robert Pattinson. Now while I didn’t care for The Lighthouse when I saw it last week, Pattinson is fucking fantastic in it, and even though all you naysayers that can’t get him out of your head as Edward from Twilight or Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter, you need to give that film and especially the movie Good Time a chance, to know that he will make a fantastic Batman/Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ upcoming one-off Batman film.
If those two movies didn’t say your thoughts of him, I guarantee you this one will. His character, The Dauphin, doesn’t show up until over halfway of the movie being over, and Pattinson is really only in the film for maybe about 10 minutes total if you spliced his scenes together, but his introduction is one to be marveled at. He plays this French son of a king so ruthlessly and maliciously over the top, I smiled every time he opened his mouth spewing heated disses to Henry V with a deliciously vile French accent. And it 100% works. At first I was afraid that his performance would be just written off as a good French Heath Ledger Joker, but Pattinson truly makes it his own, and the 10 minutes he is in the film is worth it just to watch the whole thing alone. There are other supporting parts such as Ben Mendolsohn as King Henry IV (less screentime than Pattinson) and Lily Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter) as Catherine (even less screen time than both Mendolsohn and Pattinson) and while they are good, they aren’t very memorable because of their lack of a huge presence. Sean Harris (the main villain in the last two Mission: Impossible film) seems like he’s getting the short end of the stick with his character, but towards the end you realized that it was necessary all along.
Yeah, so what the fuck are you doing? If you like epics such as this, this one is right up your alley and ranks along the greats. But I mean, would this kind of film make money if it was in the theater anymore? Probably not, but Netflix knows that there is this certain niche of people at there that need their fix for these kinds of films, and smartly swiped this up and debut it on their streaming platform. I have a feeling it is going to get more praise in the coming weeks, I just wish it was getting it now. I have a feeling it is being drowned out by Dolemite Is My Name and other things about to hit the giant service, but that is okay right now as Netflix is truly trying to merge as a competitor before things truly get ugly next week as Disney+ debut and then in January when HBO Max tries to reign supreme. Maybe my little review here could get some of you to hit that play button on your remotes and spread the word so that way it comes out of being drowned in the mud and muck. It doesn’t deserve that, especially when I will definitely be checking this out a time or two in the coming years.