Movie Review Monday: The Kid Who Would Be King
January is normally a slow month in regards to new releases, but this weekend we saw the debut of the family film, The Kid Who Would Be King. Written and directed by Joe Cornish, the film is a different take on the King Arthur story that blends the classic tale with the modern world. It follows a boy named Alex, who finds himself in a battle against Morgana after he unknowingly pulls Excalibur from a stone. The film stars Andy Serkis’ son, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, as Alex and Dean Chaumoo as his best friend, Bedders. The film also contains performances from Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Taylor, Angus Imrie, Rhianna Doris, and Denise Gough.
The film begins with an animated retelling of the story of King Arthur. It follows his pulling of the sword Excalibur all the way to the defeat of his evil half-sister, Morgana. This animated beginning also details the state that the world must be in for Morgana to return. From there the film jumps to current day, where young Alex Elliot prepares for school. Whenever he arrives, his best friend, Bedders, is being bullied by two older kids, Lance and Kaye. Alex fights Lance, and all of them land in detention except for Bedders. After detention, Alex runs from a confrontation with Lance and Kaye and accidentally stumbles upon a sword at a building site. Alex’s world is turned upside down as magical things begin to occur, and he discovers what he must do now that Excalibur has appeared to him.
So, as far as modern King Arthur adaptations go, I thought The Kid Who Would Be King was really well done. It covers the basics of the myth and has some nice parallels in the modern version of the story that is occuring with Alex and his allies. There are quests and setbacks to overcome, and they implement characters like The Lady of the Lake very well. The character of Merlin is a quirky, fun character that still provides wisdom, and they make Morgana an admirable foe. In fact, I found this movie to be a really charming family film. There are a couple of “bad words,” and the imagery surrounding Morgana and her army can be a little intense; however, the film has a lot of endearing themes and positive messages for kids.
One of the highlights of the film is the journey they push these different characters experience, and I love that we watch them all grow a lot throughout the course of the story. Of course, these character arcs are made all the better by the actors and actresses. Louis Ashbourne Serkis is really fantastic as Alex, and he manages to capture these emotional moments for Alex’s character as well as the physical demands that this role required. Angus Imrie, who plays the younger version of Merlin, is absolutely hilarious. He is awkward and funny, and he has some really great moments to shine in the movie. It just somehow works with him transforming back and forth into a crazy looking Patrick Stewart, and I kind of loved it. At the end of the day, the reactions and performances stayed true to how you would expect young teenagers to handle these events, and I thought the end result was really cute.
Overall, I would say that The King Who Would Be King is a surprisingly charming family film. It has its slow moments and times where there is a little too much exposition, but these shortcomings can be easily overlooked. I think the themes alone make this movie worth a watch for families, and I like that they are enforcing the idea to kids that the world may not change immediately but that they can go forward and make it a better place. January can be an excruciatingly slow month for theaters, but I think The King Who Would Be King is worth a watch.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.