The King

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
The King Movie Poster Image
Outstanding but brutally violent Henry V historical epic.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 160 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's lonely at the top. Make sure to take advice from those who have your best interests at heart -- it's important to have good friends who will speak truth to power. It can be hard to stay true to yourself and your values when you take on big responsibility. War has a high human cost that even surviving soldiers must pay.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Prince Henry starts out as a boozy party boy who disapproves of his father and rejects his place in the royal house. But when it appears to him that he's the best and only choice to succeed his father as king, he steps up to lead. He strives to demonstrate integrity; make wise decisions in difficult, complicated situations; and put his men and his country before himself, but he can also be ruthless and cruel. And once he becomes king, he doesn't always behave ideally. Women are depicted as smart, insightful, capable and are treated with respect.

Violence

Close-up of execution via beheading. Battle scenes feature stabbing, strangling, fistfights, being shot by longbows; a horse falls and rolls over. Children are murdered by the enemy; one child is forced to carry another child's head. Thousands are ordered to be killed. Detailed description of an anticipated murder and a threat of disembowelment. Character who poses no physical threat is stabbed to death. Much violence is depicted as being justified in the moment.

Sex

Character described as "a whoring fool" passionately kisses a woman whose breast can be seen through her nightgown.

Language

"Balls," "c--k," and two uses of "f--king."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine is consumed to ward off pain during a procedure. Characters drink at a tavern. Mentions of characters being "drunks."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The King is a historical epic starring Timothée Chalamet as wild, rebellious young Prince Hal, who's suddenly thrust into ruling England as King Henry V. It's based both on history and on Shakespeare's "Henriad" plays (Henry V, Henry IV Part I, and Henry IV Part II), but much is imagined and changed. Henry's astonishing strategic Battle of Agincourt victory did happen, and, while it's certainly brutal, the violence is not without purpose. War isn't glamorized here: Through two key characters' eyes, the film shows the terror and chaos of soldiers in hand-to-hand combat in a sloppy, savage melee while wearing chain mail and armor. The movie hammers home a strong message of war's high human cost that even surviving soldiers must pay; there are also themes of courage and integrity. Other violent scenes include graphic on-screen beheadings and children dying and being forced to carry body parts. Expect a brief scene of sensuality and a couple of instances of strong language ("f--king"), including an insult to the king's manhood ("c--k," "balls"). 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydbdbd November 1, 2019

Great

Stunning biopic with violence. Skip the kissing scene and should be fine
Adult Written byDddfgtfddsaafg January 1, 2020

It’s fine

The kissing scene with the breasts lasts for only a bit, and the breasts are hardly visible. Chances are you won’t notice and neither will your child. A few use... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byChickenTimothee... May 22, 2020

Awesome

I'm twelve and I watched this because I personally love Timothee Chalamet. But I also love historical movies! This movie is very violent, but I'm sure... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 8, 2020

Perfect, intense, violent.

Great film, extraordinary acting, lots of violence. I enjoyed this movie thoroughly, everything from the acting to the spectacular intense battle scenes, it... Continue reading

What's the story?

Adapted from Shakespeare's "Henriad" plays (Henry V, Henry IV Part I, and Henry IV Part II) but written in a more modern but still formal style, THE KING follows Hal, the Prince of Wales (Timothée Chalamet), who has disavowed his royal heritage, choosing to spend his days reveling and partying, Tudor style. But when his father dies shortly after his brother's death, Hal is unexpectedly crowned King Henry V. He intends to create a new day for England, one that will thrive in peace and find unity. But he must first contend with the late king's friends and foes.

Is it any good?

This outstanding historical epic boasts beautiful cinematography, strong performances, and a phenomenal battle scene. The luxe production design exists in a palette of gray, which implies that trouble is constantly brewing. The art design of each scene creates an authenticity that makes it feel like you're there -- particularly during the epic Battle of Agincourt. That attack sequence plays like Saving Private Ryan: Medieval Times. This isn't about elegant swordsmanship and proud, victorious cheers; rather, it's down and dirty, with punching, suffocating, drowning, and whatever-it-takes fighting, with bodies mashing up against each other like a murderous mosh pit. It's brutal, but it ultimately delivers understanding: You realize that this must be what it was truly like to fight in the 15th century. 

The Shakespeare plays The King is based on aren't the ones usually assigned as required reading, so it may be difficult to get teens to watch -- but do try. While running a country at a young age isn't likely to happen to any viewers, by the movie's end, Hal learns a significant life lesson that today's kids can apply as they step into the workplace. Chalamet and co-star Joel Edgerton (who also co-wrote and produced) put in fantastic, believable performances, and those who grew up with Twilight will get a kick out of Robert Pattinson, who surprises with an unexpected twist on a French prince who delights at riling the young king into war.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hal shows compassion for his brother and his troops in The King. How does he demonstrate courage and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

  • What do you think about the filmmakers' choice to scrap Shakespeare's dialogue for a more modern spoken style? What other changes are made to this ancient story? How does this film compare to other Shakespeare-inspired works with a modern-day spin, such as Romeo + Juliet or 10 Things I Hate About You?

  • How did the movie's violent scenes affect you? Does all media violence have the same impact?

  • Given his behavior at the beginning and end of the film, would you say Hal has integrity? Is there a point where you think he lost his way? There's a saying that "absolute power corrupts absolutely." How does this apply to Hal's father? Do you think Hal's behavior becomes corrupt?

  • What did you think of the shocking reveal at the end of The King? What could Hal have done to prevent being manipulated? Is there anything that applies to real life now?

Movie details

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