“The Kid Who Would Be King” stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Angus Imrie, Rebecca Ferguson, and Patrick Stewart. Released on January 25, 2019, the film is about a young boy who is chosen to save the world from a villainous enchantress.
The film is written and directed by Joe Cornish, who also directed “Attack the Block” and wrote “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Ant-Man”. Well, this is a surprise. We got ourselves another movie that’s based on the legend of King Arthur. Ok, it’s not really a surprise since Hollywood likes to revisit several classic stories and legends every now and then, but hey, we got a new family film in January, so…that’s something. After making a successful directorial debut with the acclaimed sci-fi comedy, “Attack the Block”, Joe Cornish, the co-star of “The Adam and Joe Show”, follows it up with a family-friendly fantasy film that takes the Arthurian legend to modern times. There have been a bunch of films in the past that reflect the legend of King Arthur in their own ways. Some of them worked well, and some of them made people wish that they would just leave it in the stone. So, how does this one compare to the others?
The story in this film is something that I would consider a “modern reimagining” of the legend of King Arthur, as it follows a boy named Alexander Elliot (Serkis) who discovers the sword in the stone. This is something that could’ve gone in a direction that may divide a certain amount of people in terms of the concept and its PG rating. Fortunately, instead of relying on just cheap kid-friendly gags and fast-paced action, Joe Cornish took full advantage of its bizarre plot by providing a well-told story for both kids and adults and a sense of adventure and fun that was inspired by the classic kid-centric films from the 80s, including “The Goonies". For the young children who prefer films that are fast-paced and harmless, this one can be a bit slow at times and the CGI creatures can be just as frightful as the imaginary monsters that are hiding in the closets. So, unless you think your young child is OK with any of these things, it’s probably best to wait until they’re a little bit older, like around six or seven. I think the reason why this film worked so well for me is because of its ability to display its underlying message in the midst of its modern fantasy tropes. While it had its share of similarities to the other fantasy family films like “Percy Jackson”, the story was able to produce a suitable amount of entertainment value and deliver a valuable message that we desperately need during this time of day. Louis Ashbourne Serkis did an impressive job in his first leading debut as Alex. For those who don’t know, he is the son of motion-capture mastermind, Andy Serkis. The character of Alex was nicely developed as someone who is called upon to change the world even though they think they couldn’t. The film’s proper standout, in my opinion, is none other than Angus Imrie, who was effectively amusing and likable as Merlin, a wizard who takes the form of a teenager in order to help Alex on his quest. Merlin is best described as a “fish out of water” type of character due to him being in the modern world instead of the Arthurian era, which lead to some pretty humorous moments that actually worked wonders for me. I was a bit worried that they might rely a bit too much on this type of humor in order to gain some laughs from the kids, but it looked like Cornish understood the proper balance between storytelling and humor that was needed to prevent the adults from getting a lot of negative vibes in their bodies.
Overall, “The Kid Who Would Be King” is a modernized take on the Arthurian legend that displays a surprising mixture of storytelling and entertainment. Thanks to its cast and Cornish’s respectable sense of direction, the film is worthy enough to join the Knights of the Round Table. It’s such a shame that it’s not performing as well as the studio hoped in terms of box office because it has a relatable message that everyone should know about, especially during the time when people are showing nothing but hate and stupidity. Hopefully, it will be successful when it comes out on Blu-ray. If you like Joe Cornish’s other works as a writer and director, this film is worth checking out.