Directed by: Joe Cornish
Premise: Set in contemporary London, a twelve year old boy (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) removes a sword from a block of stone, making him the latest hero of the King Arthur legend. He enlists three friends to join him on a quest to defeat a rising evil force.
What Works: The Kid Who Would Be King is an enjoyable family oriented fantasy adventure. The film is the kind of live action PG entertainment that used to be more prevalent such as the live action movies Disney released in the 1960s or the adventures produced by Steven Spielberg in the 1980s. The Kid Who Would Be King is a reworking of the Arthurian legend for contemporary times. Twelve year old Alex, played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis, is an unremarkable kid but he generally does the right thing and defends his best friend (Dean Chaumoo) against bullies. When Alex discovers Excalibur in a construction site and removes the sword from the stone, he is plunged into an epic struggle between good and evil. The filmmakers tap into the zeitgeist; evil is rising because of a general feeling of cynicism and hopelessness that’s taken hold in the culture and Alex and his friends must find faith and goodness in themselves and in the world. The Kid Who Would Be King deals with some heavy and complex ideas and it is admirable how respectful this film is toward its young audience. It doesn’t condescend to them and the movie has a few real moments. Alex and his friends go on a journey but what they eventually discover is not what’s expected. Along the way the young people get into adventures and the film offers a steady supply of action sequences that are competent and appropriate for the intended audience.
What Doesn’t: The Kid Who Would Be King is a bit overlong. The film has a lot in it, taking the characters on a long journey only to put them back where they started for the climax. No particular sequence feels unnecessary but the pacing of the film is sometimes slow, especially for a movie that’s aimed at young viewers. The intended audience of The Kid Who Would Be King seems pretty specific. This is a movie for pre-teen viewers who have graduated from animated features but may not be ready for some of the grittier superhero adventures. The film may not hold the interest of viewers who are older or younger than that but it ought to play well with their parents.
Bottom Line: The Kid Who Would Be King is not a great movie but it ought to entertain its intended family audience. Unlike a lot of stories intended for young people it actually has some substance to it while spinning an entertaining yarn.
Episode: #736 (February 3, 2019)