While this film contains some factual information about events that took place during the Hundred Years' War, most of the film is fiction or based on various plays including some Shakespearean stuff - don't let that word scare you off, none of the dialogue is delivered in sonnets or anything.
Although it wasn't the specific intention originally to make it a Netflix exclusive, that is what it has become after a short run in just a few cinemas. Basically, the film has good and bad aspects to it and I'm kinda on the fence about whether or not to recommend this one.
As always i try to avoid spoilers but if you truly want to go into a film blind, it might be better to skip this or all reviews for that matter
The plot all centers around the rise of Henry V's rise to the throne and what happens thereafter. I do not know which parts of this are true and which parts of it are fiction so I'll just steer clear of that and say that at least from a cinematography point of view the early stuff, which is mostly about squabbling among royals, is done extremely well. The acting is sound, the lighting / costumes / sets are magnificent, and the music is perfect to build tension. However, it does start, even at an early part of in the film to seem as though most of the major players in this film, are very small and not believable as warriors.
I have no idea how big the actual King Henry was and I don't think anyone else does either, but 23 year old Timothée Chalamet is so "skinny-jeans skinny," that I just don't find it very believable any time he is involved in a fight. Whatever! I suppose it isn't important.
I think the underlying message of this film is the fact that "Henry" was very opposed to war, especially the ongoing battles with France that have existed all his life (which leads to a great deal of turmoil with his war-mongering father) but upon rising to the throne through the only possible avenue of succession, he quickly becomes at odds of actively pursuing the very battles that he loathed previously. I suppose it could be a "coming of age" combined with "power corrupts everyone eventually" type message.
If figuring out deep, underlying moral lessons in creative dialogue-driven scenes isn't your thing then you'll be pleased to learn that there are some large battles that take place (several of them.) One of these battles is a Hundred Years' War battle that I actually have heard of: The Battle of Agincourt.
Even though they did put a lot of production value into these war scenes, I can't help but feel a little like they sometimes appear to be budget versions of Game of Thrones battles. In most of the skirmishes, they seem as though they maybe didn't have as much money as they would have liked to have had.
This is particularly noticeable when we start looking at the number of people actually on the battlefields. It's still entertaining, don't get me wrong, but at times they just seem kind of cheap.
Perhaps this is because Game of Thrones is still on everyone's mind and you can't tell me that this wasn't at least part of the equation when deciding whether or not to make The King at all. There is also the fact that Brad Pitt is a producer and Johnny Depp's daughter is involved.
One of the best performances came in the form of Robert Pattinson who plays the role of a French Royal named The Dauphin. His arrogance and insolence is done so well that I almost forgave Robert for "Twilight."
from the official Netflix channel
Overall, i believe this film is decent but not great. It does get terribly boring at times and even though he is a fine actor, Timothée Chalamet's constant brooding acting style (seems like he is about to either cry or break something at all times) starts to seem a bit tiresome after an hour or so.
I also have a hard time believing that such tiny people would be capable of being any sort of intimidating physical force. I tend to believe that these whisper-thin baby-faces would be handled the same way that Paris was handled in Troy if we were being truly realistic.
If you are in to historical dramas, and generally I am, this might be for you. However, I believe you will end up in a similar situation that I did when I was frequently looking at my phone to get through the sometimes drawn-out dialogue bits, particularly at the beginning. Actually, i think that is really the only way I can recommend this film without encouraging the use of a remote control to skip some of it.