Joe Cornish is back behind the camera and he has brought us another delightful action-adventure, complete with a new crop of young U.K. talent. The Kid Who Would Be King is a modern telling of the Arthurian legend, which follows a 12-year-old boy who finds the legendary Excalibur. Suddenly, he is thrust into an epic battle between good and evil.
The movie is exactly as advertised. It’s a cute romp with a group of adorable young characters as they are tasked with saving the world from Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). They are led by Alex (Louis Serkis) who is a kind boy who doesn’t rank high on the social food chain at his middle school. Despite being bullied, he holds his head up and isn’t afraid to stand up to the bullies for himself and his best friend, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo). Due to this, he is a hero in his own right before he even has Excalibur in his grasp. His bravery in a world of cowards causes Excalibur to reveal itself after being hidden for many centuries, and when Alex gets a hold of it, the movie takes off into a delightful action-adventure.
The story is a basic retelling of the Arthurian legend with a 12-year-old boy at the center, who is destined to recreate the roundtable of knights, unite friends and foes, and embrace the chivalric code. This adventure pushes Alex to confront his fears, and to learn more about himself and his family. Andy Serkis’ acting skills have certainly been passed down as young Louis Serkis does a great job in his first major acting role. He does a lot to make Alex grounded and relatable as he embarks on this adventure of self-discovery and saving the world.
As for the rest of the cast; Angus Imrie as the disguised Merlin does a great job as the central comic relief, and Patrick Stewart’s brief appearance as the older Merlin adds to the good-natured humor. Rebecca Ferguson does the best with what she is given, but her performance proves that not everyone can do a dramatic scenery-chewing villainess like Eva Green, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter. Chaumoo (Bedders), Tom Taylor (Lance), and Rhianna Doris (Kay) round out the cast, and although they don’t have too much to do, they are a charming group of kids that I would gladly see more of.
Attack The Block is Joe Cornish’s defining movie and The Kid Who Would Be King is charming but doesn’t quite rich the same heights. However, Cornish certainly has found his sweet spot with these type of adventure films that evoke some of Steven Spielberg’s classic action-adventures, like The Goonies and E.T. Similar to Spielberg’s films, The Kid Who Would Be King does not talk down to kids or simplify anything for that demographic. The Kid Who Would Be King is fun for all ages and has a solid message at the center: heroism isn’t about preordained destinies or lineage, it’s about character.
Be sure to see The Kid Who Would Be King stateside beginning January 25 and in the U.K. February 15!