Director: Joe Cornish
Cast: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rebecca Ferguson, Patrick Stewart
Screenplay: Joe Cornish
120 mins. Rated PG for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language.
The Kid Who Would Be King had some pretty bad marketing. It felt too silly and too cliche, and perhaps the finished film is, but the film’s marketing did not sell it well. Word of mouth from reviewers is the only reason I went to see it, and I found it to be much better than expected even if it suffers from several issues that plague these kinds of fantasy films.
Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) isn’t a popular kid by any means. He regularly saves his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) from the clutches of bully Lance (Tom Taylor, The Dark Tower, TV’s Doctor Foster). But when he discovers a sword amid the rubble of a construction site and retrieves it, he is enlisted by the mythical sorcerer Merlin to stop the evil witch Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Life) from taking over the world and plunging it into darkness. To stop her, he will need to master the sword and enlist some knights to assist him.
There’s some good in The Kid Who Would Be King, and there’s some notable flaws as well. First of all, I think Alex is a well-written character and Louis Ashbourne Serkis does a fine job of holding up the film. He’s realistic and imaginative and very reminiscent of heroic characters. He’s a flawed character with room to grow.
Dean Chaumoo’s Bedders and Tom Taylor’s Lance are rather simple one-note characters. Bedders is there for the jokes and Lance doesn’t display true believable growth. I also found Morgana to be a very bland villain. Rebecca Ferguson gets really nothing to do in the role.
The writing is smart but some of the jokes fall completely flat and the film gets a little lost in search of purpose. This is especially apparent with the finale, where it feels like the film should have ended about 30 minutes earlier. That’s where the film lost me. I was unimpressed with the poor plotting and repetitive action.
The Kid Who Would Be King could have been better. I enjoyed bits and pieces of the narrative but overall I didn’t feel like it was really going anywhere interesting. Where it did go was uninteresting. I admire the film and I think it has an audience out there. I would be interested to see where a sequel ends up taking it, but this first film felt like I’d seen it before many times.
-Kyle A. Goethe