The Kid Who Would Be King - 2019
Director(s): Joe Cornish
Writer(s): Joe Cornish
Cinematography by: Bill Pope
Editor(s): Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss
Cast: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, TomTaylor, Nathan Stewart-Jarret, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie and Patrick Stewart
King Arthur has had a rough go as source material as of late, with Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur (2004) as the more recent examples. Seemingly the IP is just as hard to adapt as the sword is to pull from the stone. Naturally, I was more than hesitant when I first saw the trailer for this film, especially considering it was centered around a group of unknown kid actors, and it was being released in January. However, when I found out that Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) was directing, and Patrick Stewart had a small role, I was hopeful. And to my great surprise, this film was an absolute blast. Let's talk about it.
The story follows young twelve-year-old Alex (Serkis) and his friend Mary (Chaumoo). They are the outcast kids that bullies love to pick on. One night when running away from the bullies, Alex finds a sword stuck in a stone. After pulling the sword from the said stone, strange and magical things start to happen around him. When Merlin (Imrie) shows up and tells him that he is the new King Arthur and the only one that can save the world from the evil grasp of Morgana (Ferguson), Alex most raise an army to stop her before it is too late. Joe Cornish figured out how to appropriately adapt King Arthur by placing him in modern times. The mixture of adventure, comedy and at times to my pleasant surprise horror in the form of Morgana, was perfect and well balanced. The kids are charming and funny, all having a character arch that defines the message of the film. Pointing to our youths and letting them know that the change is not going to happen around them, they must be the change the world needs. They don't have to be complacent of selfish like the grown-ups around them; they have to take the sword and battle the evil that is taking over our world.
Cornish not only wrote an excellent screenplay, but he also delivered with the action. And there is a lot of action. From the very first time one of the villains rose from the ground and attacked Alex, I knew this movie was going to be awesome. The combination of good CGI and excellent sound design help sell the undead soldiers on the hunt at night for the sword. Each battle grew in size and stakes, slowly building up to the showdown at the school with the full armies. Morgana's transformation was terrifying, regarding kid's movie standards, and it felt in the same vein of the kid's movies of the 80s that had an edge to their villains. The pace is fast, and they managed to jam pack the entire runtime with action, fun, humor, and charm. Serkis is charming and earnest, carrying the film. Imrie was hilarious as the oddball Merlin trying to understand the new world. Ferguson was creepy and her line delivery, boosted by the sound design, was eerie and set the stage correctly for the danger to come.
The Kid Who Would Be King feels like a throwback to the good old days of kid adventure films, a la The Goonies, where the kids are the only heroes able to stop the real and terrifying evil presence. Joe Cornish delivered an action-packed adventure that will fun for the entire family. I cannot recommend this film enough. I had a blast watching this film, and I look forward to watching it again.
The Kid Who Would Be King is Why I Love Movies.
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