The King’s Man Parent Guide
The sets and costumes work in giving a sense of the era, but the script is ahistorical gibberish.
Parent Movie Review
After losing his wife Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara) to a Boer sniper in South Africa, Duke Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) becomes a pacifist, swearing to keep his son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson) away from violence. But that’s a task which seems increasingly impossible in 1914, as the world careens towards war. While both Orlando and Conrad were present at the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (Ron Cook), they were unable to prevent it, and the situation in Europe has become even more dire. With the continent plunged into war, Orlando decides that some action must be taken, if only to prevent Conrad from enlisting in the British Army. The pair travel to Russia to try and keep the Empire both intact and in the war, and both of those tasks will require a confrontation with the apparent power behind the Tsar’s throne: the mad monk, Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans).
This is a movie fragmented by an identity crisis. It’s not sure if it wants to be a Kingsman style high-octane action flick with its tongue welded firmly to its cheek, or if it wants to be a historical drama about the horrors of war. It really can’t be both. The King’s Man spends more than half its time trying to play up the father-son drama over whether Conrad will join the army or not. While that’s a staple of WWI movies, it also completely kills the fun, devil-may-care attitude the franchise has built in the other two films.
The problem is this is a terrible World War I movie. Sure, some of the sets and costumes work, but almost everything else is ahistorical gibberish of the worst order. Somehow, The King’s Man has managed to talk about the Great War without ever mentioning France, which if you’re even passingly familiar with the war, is an incredible omission. France, the nation where much of the war was fought and which sacrificed well over a million lives, isn’t even an afterthought. The film wants to play up the familial relationships between George V, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas, and historical consequences be damned. As far as the movie is concerned, the only combatants in the First World War were England, Germany, and Russia.
Were that not enough, it’s blandly predictable from start to finish. I managed to correctly identify the mysterious villain of the piece within the first 15 minutes. I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m some sort of cinematic Hercule Poirot, but the script just makes it absurdly easy.
Fans of the original films likely expect that this is not a family film, but not to the same extent as the rest of the franchise. The violence is less graphic, there’s far less innuendo, and considerably less cussing. In fact, apart from the profanity, this is essentially a PG-13 action flick with a weak grasp on history and a poor plot. With the price of movie tickets being what it is, and the risk of viral exposure being as bad as it is, I’d expect a little more effort from filmmakers if they expect me to turn up.Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Rhys Ifans, Gemma Arterton. Running time: 131 minutes. Theatrical release December 22, 2021. Updated December 23, 2021
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The King’s Man
Rating & Content Info
Why is The King’s Man rated R? The King’s Man is rated R by the MPAA for sequences of strong/bloody violence, language, and some sexual material.
Violence: Individuals are repeatedly shot, stabbed, and killed in explosions. A goat is killed. A man is beheaded. A family is shown being executed. A man falls off a cliff to his death.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes of crude graphic innuendo and language. A woman is shown dancing seductively and undressing with no visible nudity.
Profanity: There are 21 uses of sexual expletives, a few scatological curses, and some mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking, sometimes to excess. Adults are seen taking opium orally and smoking.
Page last updated December 23, 2021
The King’s Man Parents' Guide
Which historical events does this movie portray most accurately? Which has it taken liberties with? Why does it take those liberties? Do you think films like this are helpful in sparking interest in history or harmful in spreading inaccurate and fictionalized information?
Related home video titles:
If you want to see what the franchise is known for, try Kingsman: The Secret Serviceor Kingsman: The Golden Circle. If you’re interested in seeing the First World War on film, some excellent options include the documentary They Shall Not Grow Old and films like 1917, Beneath Hill 60, War Horse, Paths of Glory, Gallipoli, and Joyeux Noel.