After seven release date changes, The King’s Man is finally getting its day in theaters, and the reviews are in. The Matthew Vaughn-directed prequel will take audiences back to where the Kingsman organization began, a century before the events of 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Ralph Fiennes stars in the third installment of the Kingsman franchise as the Duke of Oxford, alongside Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou and Stanley Tucci.
The red-band trailer seemed to promise plenty of the wit and violence that has attracted fans to the series, but what did the critics have to say? We’ll start with the CinemaBlend review, as our own Mike Reyes gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, noting that while The King’s Man takes a slightly more serious tone than its predecessors, the film still brings plenty of antics and cheeky charm.
Hoai-Tran Bui of SlashFilm rated the movie 5 out of 10, finding problems with its tone. The film’s somber use of real historical events, including World War I, clashed with the comic book-like hyperviolence. And while “weird” was likely part the goal, it didn’t hit the mark in its intended way.
Anna Smith of Deadline agreed that The King’s Man was tonally confusing but had its good moments. The dramatic wartime scenes effected palpable grief, and Rhys Ifans’s Rasputin was “gloriously theatrical,” but other aspects were either confusing or underdeveloped.
Vikram Murthi of IndieWire agreed with the other critics that the prequel brought a more serious tone than the other two Kingsman movies. He graded the film a C, saying he wouldn’t have minded the second half’s devolution to an “overstuffed shoot-em-up” if the action sequences hadn’t been so "dull."
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter, on the other hand, found a “lurid fascination” in the movie’s revisionist history and a lot to like. even if parts of the first half suffered from lethargic pacing.
It seems like the critics — like the early reactions — are split. They all seem to agree there is a tonal shift in this movie that is more serious than the previous two, but where the disagreement lies is how successful the film pulled off the series’ signature humor against the backdrop of World War I.
You’ll be able to form your own opinion on the prequel when The King’s Man hits theaters December 22. And be sure to take a look at our 2022 New Movie Release Schedule to start planning for next year.
Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.
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