The King

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Elvis Valderez (Gael Garcia Bernal) has just been discharged from the Navy, but his life isn’t without direction, not even close. As soon as he leaves the service, he begins down a path that he has waited to walk for as long as he can remember. That path will lead him to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he hopes to find his father, who has no idea his son plans to drop in. In fact, his estranged father, a man named David Sandow (William Hurt) hopes he never sees his son again, as he isn’t proud of his past. Sandow is now a pastor and does the work of the Lord, but he hasn’t always walked such a straight line. He now has a family in Corpus Christi, a beautiful wife Twyla (Laura Harring), an honorable son Paul (Paul Dano), and a gorgeous, but sheltered daughter, Malerie (Pell James), a family he doesn’t wish to expand. So when Elvis arrives in town, David turns him away and informs him that he wants to leave the past in the past. This is not what Elvis wanted to hear, so he puts into a motion a plan that could make the past look like a happy memory for David.

I hadn’t heard much buzz about The King, but I was drawn to the film because of director James Marsh, who also helmed Wisconsin Death Trip. The cast looked impressive to boot, with William Hurt and Gael Garcia Bernal in the leads, backed by solid supporting players. The King turned out to be a solid movie all around, though it never rises above that solid level. The story is a good one and unfolds at a slow burn, so the pace is slow and as time passes, the tension mounts. In other words, if you have a short attention span, this isn’t your movie, as the film requires a slow build. Even so, the slow pace doesn’t make for a dull movie by any means, as the screws are slowly tightened until the movie hits the point of no return. To be honest, the plot is predictable and offers minimal twists to keep it fresh. But the story, while predictable, is well handled and even if we know how it will all go, the movie is still effective and keeps us tuned in. Bernal is excellent as usual, while Hurt brings a terrific performance with some well played internal conflicts. The King is not a great movie, but it is a good movie and if you’re in the mood for a good drama, this release is worth a rental.

Video: How does it look?

The King is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I was very pleased with this presentation, as it looks very sharp and I detected no serious issues to discuss. The colors come across in bold form, but never too rich and flesh tones were natural as well. The contrast seems well balanced also, with dead on black levels and no visible detail loss to report. The source materials show a few small instances of debris, but not enough to be worried about, so the score won’t be lowered much. Overall, a great looking presentation from ThinkFilm, so fans should be pleased.

Audio: How does it sound?

Although this disc uses a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, I didn’t detect much in terms of surround use, as this is a laid back mix in all respects. A few scenes allow the surround channels to open up, but on the whole, this is a dialogue driven, low key audio experience. The music sounds very good and although not immersive, it hits the right tones and reaches the desired ends. The main focus is the dialogue however, crisp and always easy to understand, with no issues in the least to complain about. This might not be an explosive mix, but it presents the material in a natural form, which is what matters in this case. This disc also includes subtitles in English and Spanish, should you need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The most substantial extra here is a commentary track with director James Marsh and writer Milo Addica, which is a more than solid effort. The two remain talkative throughout, covering a wide range of topics, both technical and anecdotal. I wouldn’t classify this as one of the more entertaining tracks I’ve heard, but it is better than most sessions out there. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, a look at rehearsal for one scene, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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