TL;DR – It has a good message, and I give it full props for trying something new even if it does not all completely come together
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Due to the vagaries of international copyright law, there are some stories that you will see over and over again because they have had the good grace to enter the public domain, which is becoming more and more difficult to do. This means that anyone can make a film based around the King Arthur mythology, and there have been a lot of them, including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (see review) from a couple of years ago, which I really liked, but I think I was alone in that. Well, today we get a new film based around this mythology, which is trying to do something a little different, even if it doesn’t all quite come together.
So to set the scene, we open with a really well designed animated sequence that gives you in a couple of minutes a quick overview of this particular film’s take on the Arthurian mythology. With Arthur banishing Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) under the Earth, but in a last act of defiance, she cursed the world that one day when the country was leaderless she should return and take what is hers. Flash forward to 2019 and England is just as she predicted … looks at today’s news … yikes they really timed this film well. Well out in Britain there is still but a hope because one Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) runs into a construction yard after being chased by some bullies and finds a rock with a sword in it … yes, that sword … and like all true and noble heroes, he is able to pull it from the rock. This puts in motion a series of events because in four days there will be a total solar eclipse and Morgana will rise.
are a lot of little things that I really like with this film that all add up to
the final product. We see this first in their approach to Arthurian Mythology.
In this take Arthur is not so much a hereditary king, but the noblest, and so the sword is not something to
be passed down from one child to the next but it appears when it is needed to
the one who is the noblest at the time. Also, it knows that it is leaning heavily on
the Hero’s Journey and instead of
hiding that it leans into it and uses it
for the motivation for the narrative. Indeed on the side of the construction
site is a sign that says “Start Your
Story” right where Alex starts his story. Also their take on how magic
happens, is just fun, I mean this is such a fun film at times.
Also, the cast is here for the somewhat weird story that they have been thrust into. Louis Ashbourne Serkis has to do a lot of the heavy lifting here as the lead and new Arthur and he does a really good job especially towards the end when Alex’s life gets turned upside down. While it is always good to see Patrick Stewart appear in any capacity, I do have to say I give full props to Angus Imrie who plays the young Merlin. He has to be both a fish-out-of-water in a new time, also the most powerful wizard in history, also Patrick Stewart, and also sometimes an owl. While I would have liked to have seen a little more of Rebecca Ferguson’s Morgana, she is giving to the role the high drama it needs. Add to all this is a supporting cast that hits every beat, and it all works.
key point that works with the film is the visual effects of the undead warriors
coming back to life. They are a hybrid skeleton/fire beast and there is a lot
of detail to the flames. Also, this gives
the film licence to do some interesting lighting both with the undead and with the Excalibur sword itself. The
action scenes all work really well, as long as you put aside that there was no
way they could get all this set up in 2 hours. One effect that didn’t work as
well as this others was the dragon
Morgana, but that is only a small issue.
While I did enjoy the film, I don’t think it did quite come together as well as it could have. I think part of this is the weighting they gave each of the acts. The film has a very long first act, a very rushed second act, followed by the big battle. While a film does need to have some setup, it did feel like it was taking its time to get going. This meant that the end was a little more rushed than it needed to be, and they could have spent a bit more time building up that final battle. As well as this, there are some issues with tone, in that the flaming skulls and other things mean that this might be a bit too intense for the younger kids, but then it is a bit too silly for the older kids, so I am not sure who their target audience is going to be.
In the end, do we recommend The Kid Who Would Be King? Yes, we do. While it doesn’t completely come together, it is trying something new. As well as this, it has a message that working together is better than fighting each other and doing evil’s job for them, and in the world, we live in today, we need more of that.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Kid Who Would Be King
Directed by – Joe Cornish
Written by – Joe Cornish
Music by – Electric Wave Bureau
Cinematography by – Bill Pope
Edited by – Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss
Starring – Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Rhianna Dorris, Tom Taylor, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Ferguson & Denise Gough
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: na; United States: PG