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Early Critical Response To The King's Man Is Sharply Divided For A Very Good Reason

The latest installation of the "Kingsman" film series is nearing its release date. The prequel film, "The King's Man" will premiere in theaters on December 22, 2021. The upcoming film follows 2015's "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and 2017's "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," both of which starred Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. All three films are directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn.

As a prequel, "The King's Man" features a brand new cast and gives viewers a look into the Kingsman secret service organization before Egerton's Eggsy was initiated. Set in the era of World War I, "The King's Man" follows Orlando, Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), and his protégé Conrad (Harris Dickinson) as they work to stop "a collection of history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds" — including Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), who is heavily featured in the trailer — who are plotting a catastrophic war that would take out millions of people (via Entertainment Weekly).

With just a few weeks left until the release of "The King's Man," early critics' reactions are beginning to come out, and they're seriously divided.

Reactions to The King's Man are mixed

To start with the good, entertainment writer Cassam Looch wrote on Twitter that the film is "an unexpectedly emotional WWI story, brilliant Ralph Fiennes action movie and historical prequel all rolled into one." Generally in agreement is Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell who thought it "[blended] real-life history to the heightened Kingsman world to mostly successful results."

On the other end of the spectrum, Hoai-Tran Bui of Slashfilm found both the plot and the tone confusing, writing, "Tonally, it's the wildest movie I've seen this year, [it's] both self-serious and utterly, totally silly. It also has a deeply troubling plot that the more I think on it, the more I loathe. But Rasputin has superpowers I guess?" Meanwhile, Gizmodo's Germain Lussier found the prequel unnecessary, writing, "The action is fun when it happens but there isn't a ton and the story is awkwardly disjointed. I forgot about it the moment it ended."

Additionally, there have been more mixed reviews pop up as well, with some critics pointing out the tonal shift from the other films — as well as within "The King's Man" itself. Looper's own Jeff Ewing declared that "the script seems like pages of two separate scripts shuffled together." Finally, Sean Mulvihill found the film to be "fine" overall, noting that it is "tonally much more serious than the previous two."

Overall, there seems to be some missteps in terms of tone and plot, but the film has some fun action and memorable performances. Audiences can give their own input when "The King's Man" premieres in theaters later this month.