Not-a-movie Monday: The Last Kingdom

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I know it’s not a movie, and I should do it on TV Tuesday, but I’m too compulsive to change my blog-posting schedule so I’m shoehorning it in on Monday. Anyway, I’ve spoken before about my bizarre habit of reading everything with Vikings in, and that extends to Bernard Cornwell’s “warrior” series, despite the fact that I find the presentation of its protagonist, Uhtred, monumentally irritating. There was a bit in the most recent book where his son became the POV character and I was like “yes, he died!” but it was a fake-out. Curse you, Cornwell.

I don’t know why it is — I’ve never been the kind of person who cared about whether characters are likable. The protagonist of my story is an absolutely awful person. There’s just something about him, and almost every Cornwall protagonist, that annoys the shit out of me (the exception is Derfel from the Arthur books). Let’s see how it works on film. And, oh yeah, how they present the 9th-century setting!

So what have we got here? Well, obviously everything is kind of faded, because that’s what Saving Private Ryan was like and therefore what a war story is like, and everything is covered in filth, because the middle ages. It’s strongly influenced by Game of Thrones and Vikings, and the costumes are full of goofy stuff I’m inclined to excuse for artistic reasons — gotta make the characters visually distinctive, after all.

Historically it’s … well, it’s simplified and exaggerated, of course, as these things are, but some parts of it are OK, including the discussion of what English politics and geography were like in the 9th century. Some aspects of the sets are good, although again they’re kind of generally Skyrim-ed up. And it gets extra points with me just because there’s a charcoal-burning scene that stresses how much of a pain in the butt making charcoal is.

Prestige casting includes Rutger Hauer as an old Viking and Matthew McFadyen as the young hero’s dad, as well as Jason Flemyng as Saint Edmund (although rather a cynical reading of Saint Edmund).

So, OK, it’s nonsense, but it’s reasonably well-made Viking nonsense and I’ll continue to watch it as well as its counterpart, Vikings. You’ll probably learn more about English history from this than you would from Vikings, but that’s not necessarily saying a lot.

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Not-a-movie Monday: The Last Kingdom

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