Scandinavian slaloming, Dark Ages style.
The Middle Ages had a lot of wild and woolly stuff going on, usually on a daily basis. Kings rose and fell. Cities were sacked. Civilizations were wiped out. And strep throat went untreated, subjecting millions of people to everlasting gullet discomfort.
This era of humanity, while sucky for all who lived it no doubt, remains one of my favorites. Human history pivoted in inexorable directions this stretch and entire cultures thrived (Saxons!) or fell short of world dominance (Danes!).
But, mainly, I liked the Middle Ages because of the movies. The sword-swinging, gut-stabbing, britches-muddying tomfoolery that tends to characterize these endeavors. So you can understand why I was eager to take The Last King for a spin.
Here’s the story: the throne of Norway is up for grabs. There’s an heir, but he’s currently vulnerable to usurpation due to the fact that he happens to be a baby. Some nasty Church bishops have their eyes on the crown so they dispatch all manner of sword-thug to slay the kiddo and secure the throne for their own devious purposes.
The only thing standing between the future king and a tiny coffin are two warriors. Together they tote the baby across the snow-swept terrain of Norway, dodging arrows and sword swipes and shield bashes, but mainly they ski. Oh how they ski! Downhill! Uphill! Cross-country! They ski and ski and ski and slaughter and ski!
Good movie here. I’m always down for a swashbuckler that happens to feature some historical context from an era I have no clue about. And seeing I’m not as up on my Norwegian royalty succession background, The Last King ladled on some welcome knowledge along with its raw pugilism.
Most of you will notice Kristofer Hivju, a.k.a. Jon Snow’s ginger BFF from Game of Thrones. He’s a bit looser here than in the HBO series, but still operates at peak bad-ass. And regardless if you couldn’t pick anyone else out of lineup The Last King stands on its own wind-chapped two legs. The pacing is swift, the action is fun and visceral, the cinematography is gorgeous and the history is cool and interesting.
If any of this resides anywhere near your wheelhouse, consider this a recommendation; The Last King offers more than a sleigh-ful of spills and thrills. On Blu-ray, the Norway topography looks dynamite in 108op and the brouhahas ring out in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (in the original Norwegian).