The Kid Who Would Be King Review
Since the fantastic directorial debut that was Attack the Block in 2011, film fans have been waiting eagerly to see what would come next from writer/director Joe Cornish. But other than working on the screenplay of Marvel’s Ant-Man and a brief cameo in The Last Jedi, we haven’t really seen much from him. Now he returns to the directing chair with The Kid Who Would Be King, a fun modern day take on the Arthurian legend.
Schoolboy Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) must face an epic destiny. When he pulls the legendary sword Excalibur from a stone he is told by Merlin (Angus Imrie and Patrick Stewart) that he must face the dark sorcerer Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) and save the land from an eternal darkness. With the help of his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and school bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris), Alex will go on a quest; fighting monsters and confronting some truths about the past; both mythical and his own.
Cornish is someone who happily wears his influences on his sleeve. The Kid Who Would Be King is Amblin Spielberg with just a dash of Time Bandits Gilliam where Attack the Block was pure Carpenter and Dante in South London. It’s not as slick an experience as that previous film and the second act, whilst containing some good character stuff for the main kids, doesn’t have the same energy as the first or third act and as such ends up feeling a little baggy and slow. Despite that it still has some very clever moments, and it does a nice job of playing with and subverting elements of the tired “chosen one” narrative. The third act is a great climax, featuring an army of evil descending on the kids’ school and the students fending them off in a was that is less Helm’s Deep and more Home Alone, but is very creative and satisfying to watch.
All the young cast are great, but Angus Imrie is the absolute MVP of the film as Merlin. His performance as the wizard brings an energy and a sincerity to even the most ridiculous moments and stealing every scene that he’s in, not an easy feat when you share a role with Patrick Stewart. Although he might make you look sideways at your local chicken place from now on.
The Kid Who Would Be King is the kind of kids’ film that is full of adventure with a strong message in becoming your own kind of hero that never talks down to its audience, and action that has weight and drama but doesn’t push the PG rating too far. In short, it is a perfect choice for a family trip to the cinema this half term.