A band of kids embark on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.
It’s been 8 years since Joe Cornish’s debut ‘Attack the Block’ became a cult hit and he’s finally released his second feature in ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’. Essentially a love letter to 80s adventure movies such as ‘The Goonies’, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ updates the Arthurian legend for modern times and uses it as a backdrop for a coming of age story. This is a charming family movie clearly designed to appeal to children and it mostly succeeds, even if it is perhaps a little longer than it needed to be.
Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy) is a 12 year old boy about to start a new term at school whilst dealing with school bullies and the impact of an absentee father, when he discovers a mysterious sword in the middle of a nearby construction site. Those familiar with the story of King Arthur will know this to be Excalibur and the film has good fun updating the different elements of the classic tale to the present day whilst retaining the core of the original. These include a young Merlin, played by Angus Imrie (son of Celia), who is fantastic in particular, Patrick Stewart as the older Merlin, and the villainous Morgana, played by Rebecca Ferguson. Alongside his best friend (Dean Chaumoo) and prior enemies (Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris), Alex is tasked with defeating Morgana’s evil and preventing her from enslaving all of England.
Alongside the core narrative there’s a barely concealed political subtext about coming together and fighting against divisive forces which is perhaps laid on a bit thick, but when the film focuses on its characters it is often really good. The best children’s films work because alongside the adventure the characters learn things about themselves along the way, and ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ succeeds in this regard. This focus on character serves to raise the stakes in the final battle, which is inventive (no surprise from the man behind ‘Attack the Block’) and delivers a satisfying conclusion true to each character. ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ is an often fun coming of age film wrapped around the fantastical King Arthur legend and it’s a solid second feature from Joe Cornish, if not a film that will linger long in the memory.
Directed By: Joe Cornish
Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Dean Chaumoo, Denise Gough, Rhianna Doris and Genevieve O’Reilly