THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JOE CORNISH / STARRING: LOUIS ASHBOURNE SERKIS, DENISE GOUGH, DEAN CHAUMOO, TOM TAYLOR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The legends of King Arthur, Excalibur and so forth have been adapted many times in some form or another. Some have been completely faithful adaptations, some have been parodies, and sometimes they utilised the most iconic elements to create completely different stories entirely. Even Doctor Who had a story back in 1989 that revolved around the Arthurian legends. Having made a name for himself as a filmmaker with Attack the Block, director/writer Joe Cornish has now taken upon himself to take the most iconic characters and elements from Arthurian lore and turn them into something fresh and exciting - The Kid Who Would Be King, a story about a kid obtaining Excalibur and, aided by his band of misfits, including Merlin, takes on the sorceress, Morgana.
Despite receiving positive praise, the film has been officially declared a box office bomb, especially after performing pretty disastrously in the US, yet Joe Cornish's cute and charming fantasy adventure flick still stands tall. Like Attack the Block, the film focuses primarily on the younger generation and places them as the central protagonists, having them start out in a troubled place but, by the end, they become a brave and heroic unit. Cornish put his faith in the youths, and the results speak wonders, telling a tale of outsiders that go on a journey, putting aside their personal differences, and are willing to work alongside each other to achieve a common purpose that'll eventually reach a catharsis between them. Cornish is clearly aiming at the young audience here, and this film provides a good moral lesson for kids while also delivering on the fantasy spectacle with whizzo CGI and special effects.
Certain descriptions of the characters' personalities and traits are perhaps laid out too thick and could have benefited a bit more from the classic 'show, don't tell' approach, but it isn't embarrassing to watch, and it's all handled in a sentimental and big-hearted manner. The young talent involved give very charming performances, not least Angus Imrie as the young incarnation of Merlin (sharing a dual role with Sir Patrick Stewart), delivering a zany, manic quality that's incredibly fun to watch and, frankly, this guy would make a very good future Doctor in Doctor Who. The extremely talented Rebecca Ferguson gets relegated to a mere 10-15 minutes of screentime as the villainous Morgana, but she's deliciously OTT whenever she's on screen.
The Kid Who Would Be King is a charming delight of a film that knows what it is, is unashamed about it, and wears its heart on its sleeve. Joe Cornish understands his audience, and this film just about hits all the right marks for being a fun, entertaining fantasy adventure flick that families can easily enjoy. Not a perfect film by any means, but a fun one nevertheless.