Monday, March 28, 2022

The King's Man (2021)


Streaming Service: Hulu
Movie Name/Year: The King’s Man (2021)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 131 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Studios, Marv Films, Marv Studios, Forum Hungary, HKC Entertainment, Ukrainian Film Distribution (UFD), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Argentina, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney+
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Matthew Vaughn, Karl Gajdusek, Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons
Actors: Gemma Arterton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Stanley Tucci, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Brühl, Olivier Richters, Charles Dance, Tom Hollander, Djimon Hounsou, Harris Dickinson, Alexandra Maria Lara, Alison Steadman, Neil Jackson, Robert Aramayo, Branka Katic
IMDb Blurb: In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to wipe out millions.

Selina’s Point of View:
If you’ve been reading for any length of time, then you know I’m a huge fan of The Kingsman (2014 -) series. That return to a more ridiculous spy characterization is right up my alley. So, I have been looking forward to this prequel for a long time.
There was minimal doubt that I would like The King’s Man. Aside from the possibility that the director might opt for a different tone, or the new cast might alter things too much, it was going to happen.
I love this series for all the reasons a more serious critic would hate it. I love that caricature aspect. The over-exaggeration of the action/spy genre is something I just adore. I grew up on all the shows, and movies, that offered up the near-invincible spy with the fancy-ass gadgets. Bringing that into modern times and mixing it up with new filming techniques and exceptional fight choreography is a total win in my book.

The convoluted conflict at the core of a plot that seems basic, but subverts expectations at the most random moments, is a bonus to me. The villains supporting their mostly anticipated motivations with their insane and absurd plots makes it fun. How many times do we have to see the same plan with the same reason behind it before it’s acceptable to see something a little preposterous to counteract it?
Kingsman films are top-tier escapism to me. There are enough scenes that dip into seriousness to make them feel like anything but a parody, while still giving off that ‘turn your brain off and enjoy’ flair.
The King’s Man was exactly all of that. It had moments of glory that sent a chill down my back, huge shocking moments that caused me to exclaim out loud, and great fight choreography. All of it was surrounded with just enough of that caricature feel to make it fit in with the series.

I did find Rasputin to be a bit more cringe than I had hoped for. I don’t know if what went down with that character was the director’s choice, or the actor’s, but the performance did dip a bit more into parody than I’d have preferred.
That was my only issue, though. The whole film did an amazing job explaining core reasons for the existence, and content, of Kingsmen. It was a phenomenal movie, and it did what it needed to as a prequel.
I’m happy to say I’ll be watching The King’s Man again as part of my rewatching of the series. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for the next film, set to be released sometime in 2023.
I will be a Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust, X-Men: First Class) fan for life.

Cat’s Point of View:

The King’s Man landed squarely in the Top 10 of both Selina and my December 2021 Top 20 lists. In fact, our placements only varied by 1 spot. Following so many delays (mostly due to the pandemic), it was such a relief that this production finally hit screens large and small. I was doing internal cartwheels when it became available on Hulu and Xfinity’s On Demand.
I’ve always been a fan of the action spy-thriller genre. Cool gadgets, suave and quick-witted spies, and choreographed mayhem just does it for me. The Kingsman series just settles gloriously into that comfort zone. With this particular franchise, I adore the tailor shop front and all the references to the legends of King Arthur.
The 2nd movie had a little bit of a wobble with fan service over substance, but I still enjoyed it.

That brings me back to this particular installment. The King’s Man is a prequel telling us how the Kingsman Secret Service came to be. So much was packed into 2 hours that I am, frankly, surprised it wasn’t much longer. I honestly wouldn’t have minded. The King’s Man kept me so thoroughly invested in what was going on, I didn’t notice the passage of time. That’s a rare thing for my squirrelly ADHD and MS-addled brain.
Aside from the peek into the Kingsman’s history, the cast of this production was a real draw for me. I have been a fan of Ralph Fiennes (Spectre, Holmes & Watson, The Dig) since long before he lost his nose and waved a wand around. I was a freshman in college when The English Patient (1996) hit screens and caused an excessive need for tissues. His portrayal of the Duke of Oxford was everything I could hope it would be.

I’m also always excited to see Djimon Hounsou (Air, Captain Marvel, A Quiet Place Part II), Gemma Arterton (Murder Mystery, How to Build a Girl, Summerland), and Charles Dance (Johnny English Strikes Again, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Iron Mask). I didn’t even realize ‘til I looked at the credits that Tom Hollander (Tulip Fever, A Private War, Bird Box) played King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas. Bang-up job, there.
Though, I will say I was floored by a particular action sequence by Rhys Ifans’ (Serena, Official Secrets, Spider-Man: No Way Home) character of Rasputin. Who would have thought that such a despicable and horrible historical figure would be the center of one of my favorite scenes in this movie?! I’m dying to know if he actually performed the stunts or had a stand-in. I digress.

Some history buffs might have had their eyes twitching at the creative license taken with the story. I actually loved the blend of real-world elements and fantasy – spinning a conspiratorial web around the time of World War I and the horrors of that conflict.
The production value alone for The King’s Man was off the charts. This film was flat-out gorgeous.
I would recommend The King’s Man in a heartbeat. You don’t even have to see the other movies in the series before watching it – but after you do, you’ll probably want to.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 44%
Metacritic User Score – 5.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.3/10
P.S. – There is a short additional scene in the middle of the credits.
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

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