**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language
20th Century Fox
Article first published at TheReelPlace.com
People were surprised that I was excited to see The Kid Who Would Be King. As Joe Cornish’s follow-up to Attack the Block, I hoped it would be more than just another reimagining of King Arthur and Excalibur. While it still is, it manages to stand all on its own. Attack the Block came out of nowhere and planted Cornish on the geek map. And he hasn’t slumped yet.
With co-writing credits on The Adventures of Tintin and Ant-Man we finally get to see Attack the Block was more than just a one-off that introduced the world to John Boyega. Aided by a fun cast and a score by Electric Wave Bureau that may be up for awards this time next year, The Kid Who Would Be King is the family adventure we didn’t know we needed.
With an amazingly animated opening retelling the story of King Arthur and his sword Excalibur, we’re brought up to speed that King Arthur’s evil half-sister Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) lies in wait in the underworld for her chance to rule the world. In the present, Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne “Son of Andy” Serkis) does what he can to keep from getting bullied by Kaye (Rhianna Doris) and Lance (Tom Taylor).
Alex is also dealing with his dad abandoning him and his mother (Denise Gough). During a skirmish with Kay and Lance, Alex winds up pulling a sword from a stone in a construction site, and soon enough, he’s off on an adventure with his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), Merlin (Angus Imrie/Patrick Stewart), Kaye, and Lance. Together, they must defeat Morgana and save the world before the total eclipse gives her the chance she needs.
Considering the overload of family fare, hopefully word-of-mouth can save the day for The Kid Who Would Be King. Harkening back to the ’80s Amblin heyday, it’s a family adventure similar to E.T. or The Goonies. Serkis holds the film on his own while being backed by a fantastic entourage who all have camaraderie to spare. It’s oddly ironic to find Taylor playing an actual knight in this movie after his role as Jake Chambers in The Dark Tower. That story is also derived from the Arthurian legend, although you’d never know it from the film.
Cornish isn’t setting out to rewrite the legend, but he’s done a fantastic job of updating it for modern times. With Morgana, the story does start to get a little on the dark/creepy side, but never too much to question the PG rating. Full of excitement, humor, heart, fantastic special effects, and an early voting contender for Best Score, The Kid Who Would Be King may not wind up being king at the box office, but it’s absolutely worth a look. With an end setting up the possibility for franchising, they better make quick work before the cast grows up. This is one series I definitely would like to see more of soon.