From Joe Cornish, the writer and director of sci-fi/horror ‘Attack the Block’, comes new fantasy adventure ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’. The film is a contemporary take on the story of King Arthur. A young boy named Alex finds Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur, and his discovery forces he and friends to embark on a dangerous quest to protect the world from an ancient evil. Could this re-imagining of a classic tale connect with younger audiences though?
On paper it’s hard to visualise this modern slant on King Arthur and Excalibur playing out in a contemporary setting. It shouldn’t work, but somehow Cornish makes it so. It’s certainly aimed at a younger audience than his previous film and for them it’s likely to prove entertaining. There’s no denying it’s a fairly naff concept but if you buy into it there’s lots of fun to be had. The impressive visuals featured throughout the film help to sell the story. There are quite a lot of effects used within the film’s runtime and they are executed with a refreshing confidence, not hiding behind fast cuts or poor lighting. It’s not without its flaws though and at the two hour mark the film is definitely too long. Some will also criticise its attempts at social commentary however I think its endeavor to include larger themes and messages beyond its contained narrative is admirable and the simplicity of this element seems suitable for its target audience.
The film has some big names attached to it, starring the likes of Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson however they are relegated to smaller supporting roles. It’s the young cast who take centre stage and their collective performances present a mixed bag of results. The lead actor, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of the wonderful motion capture and live action performer Andy Serkis gives a convincing turn as the main character Alex. Despite this some of his younger co-stars, whilst enthusiastic present more forced portrayals of their characters not feeling quite as natural. However, the comedy and chemistry that is born out of this collection of young performers’ collaborative efforts is effective enough to make up for any inexperience present. The sense of fun these characters bring is also carried through into the action sequences which are creative and fun, complimenting the narrative nicely.
‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ feels like the type of film that kids would want to watch again and again. It references many other famous film franchises popular with younger audiences, clearly striving to emulate their audience appeal and success. While it’s not quite at their level Cornish has still crafted a very imaginative story, successfully framing it within a contemporary setting, a pivotal challenge that he’s strongly overcome. It’s simplicity in its themes and lessons is not to be sneered at but instead embraced as it brings this fantasy adventure very much into the real world, making this film as relevant as it is entertaining.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: What is your favourite King Arthur movie?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
Thanks for reading this review and please let us know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop us a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.
Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access