With the string of medieval movies performing poorly in terms of box office and critics, it’s no surprise that some are kind of getting a bit tired of them, especially anything revolving around King Arthur and Excalibur. Haven’t we gone through enough? One would think quickly The Kid Who Would Be King would be another example. Though it is, it turns out to be a surprise for its younger demographic.
Writer-director Joe Cornish hasn’t made a movie in eight years (yes) when this came out last year. If that name sounds familiar, he’s responsible for the underrated 2011 sci-fi Attack the Block, which launched the careers for John Boyega and Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker. It was a bit exciting to see what he was going to do with his follow-up. But with his previous film involved street punks in London fighting off aliens, now we have kids in London fighting off armies of skeletons. Strange, but it ain’t stupid.
When you see the trailers for The Kid Who Would Be King, like me, you probably think this looks like Fox’s another attempt at some kind of Percy Jackson that was going to be very forgettable. Instead, it’s a totally fun family adventure for those that are fond of these kinds of stories. The performances weren’t too bad, either. This stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis, also known as the son of Andy Serkis. Though this isn’t Serkis’ first role of his, he sure surprised me with how well he acted as protagonist Alex. Some other supporting players who worked well alongside him were Dean Chaumoo as his best friend Bedders, Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower) as Lance, and Rhianna Dorris as Kaye. The funniest character that stole the movie entirely had to be Angus Imrie, who played a teenage version of Merlin (with Sir Patrick Stewart as an older Merlin), and it was a good thing that he didn’t come off as annoying.
Only his second time in the director’s chair, Cornish does a good job of making this a refreshing take on the Arthurian legacy and make it not boring for kids and for the main characters. The story goes about the way it’s expected, but it was able to have a heart combined with its action, harkening back to the days of Spielberg produced ‘80s flicks. Everything else from Bill Pope’s cinematography that looks amazing and the action sequences are pretty fun when they involve these knights made of fire, especially this chase sequence I didn’t expect to be exciting. Certain moments might not be for young kids, but those who are a bit older will get so much out of it.
As for problems I found with this, Rebecca Ferguson was kind of wasted as the main villain, and that might be because there isn’t much to her character when she could’ve done more early on in the film when her goal is to take over the world. Besides that, it can be a bit too long for a kids’ movie that’s two hours long with a third act that didn’t have the same amount of energy as its first two.
Though the entire time watching this, it honestly reminded me so much of The Goonies, and that’s a good thing. The Kid Who Would Be King is a solid follow-up for Cornish. I’m curious to see what his next project will be, hoping it could be only a couple years out. It’s a shame nobody went out to see this, including myself, as I think it’s crowd-pleasing enough to get some fun out of this fantasy. Highly recommend it.
Overall Grade: B