Making Grass Grow

The feeling of watching Rhys Ifans, as Rasputin, sexually licking Ralph Fiennes’ injured leg partway through The King’s Man warrants a word not yet developed in English language. “Bizarre” fits, if not capturing the comical awkwardness or discomfort when imagining that scene being shot on set.

That brazenly goofy comedy isn’t King’s Man norm though. It’s a movie undecided as to its theme, values, and style. A creative oddity, there’s as much real world history and substance as there is unfathomable nonsense. Whether it lands or not comes on a scene-by-scene basis.

It’s a genuine shame King’s Man never chooses where it stands

The King’s Man details war, or rather, the effects conflict has and the generational turnover that inspires the young to defy their parents in defense of national values. Fiennes is stellar as a father figure to on-screen son Harris Dickinson, relating regret about his wartime experience during British colonialism. Yet, Dickinson carries an eagerness to fight, whether through teenage rebellion, or social pressures as World War I comes into historical view.

Were it not the script’s utterly screwy moments, there’s a genuine tale about how families confront crisis, and what drives individual perspectives, all set in real world context. The King’s Man carries bite when commentating on mistakes and definite truths, like a plot to embroil the American President in sexual scandal, causing the voting populace to focus their attention there, not the brewing war in Europe. That is, unquestionably, a factual truth as to how this nation cares more for infidelity than foreign fighting.

Yet those ideas occur between wonky, pulpy, and uneven violent comedy. One second The King’s Man focuses on the horny Rasputin, the next on a surprise character death, swinging the emotional vibes uncontrollably fast. Oddball action like dancing sword fights likewise have their counter, notably a brilliant nighttime stand-off between trench-bound forces that’s among the series’ grandest in terms of tension.

As an origin story, the necessity is giving the decidedly British organization grounding. In that respect, The King’s Man succeeds. Fiennes’ efforts as the leader comes from a place of pacifism and grief that’s authentic compared to his ludicrous, pulpy parachute jumps or umbrella fights. Simultaneously, the script holds considered nuance and flagrant idiocy, impressive in that any one film can deviate so wildly in but a few minutes. It’s a genuine shame King’s Man never chooses where it stands.

The Kings Man 4K UHD screen shot

Video

Spectacular clarity highlights this UHD presentation, sourced from a peerless digital source. Short of the slightest visible ringing and mild noise, nothing impedes on this presentation’s purity. It’s dazzling stuff, wholly modern, and glossy in the extreme.

This lets detail flourish everywhere. Sightly wide shots give landscapes a seemingly impossible beauty. Facial definition routinely reaches reference grade. Other than slight smearing on CG surface textures, The King’s Man pours out precision texture in almost every frame, even amid darker cinematography.

Tinted sepia, age is suggested through the color grading (with the occasional drift into blues). Aggressiveness in this area saps energy from the HDR, dimming contrast in places, although highlights leave a mark where needed. Peak brightness isn’t shy about reaching an intense high point. Black levels stay more subtle in their application, choosing to match the aged aesthetic through drier shadows. What’s lacking in depth is countered by elegance.

Audio

Widely spaced design tracks gunfire brilliantly through the soundstage. Even if the Atmos effects tend to lack the same attention, motion swings through the surrounds in grand fashion. Action scenes enjoy filling each channel, making each sound count. Nothing becomes lost in the chaos. Battlefields erupt as bullets bounce between speakers.

Explosions drive a hefty rumble into the low-end. It’s smooth, tight, and prominent, plus produces the needed range for a major studio action movie.

Extras

Everything resides on the Blu-ray, the most notable of which is a 90-minute making-of, split into six sections. It’s exhaustive, and that goes double for a new release. A scene breakdown follows, but it’s an excellent half hour piece about soldiers after they experience combat that’s the winner here.

The King's Man
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The King’s Men’s tonally odd style blends real world war history, creative action, and wonky fiction that never feels comfortable.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 46 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: