The Kid Who Would Be King
Though this film appears to be dying at the box office, is has a diverse cast that will have a surprising impact. Children will like it, though go see it anyway if none are available.
First of all, while I have long recognized that January should be considered the Dead Zone for new movie releases, occasionally a few good films slip under the radar screen. The Kid Who Would Be King is one of them, and it is a movie that will delight both adults and teenagers.
While many of you will be reluctant to see a movie centering on twelve-year-olds who discover Excalibur, King Arthur’s legendary sword, and thereafter take off on a fight with the underworld to save humanity, I urge you to set aside your skepticism. While I congratulate director Joe Cornish on both the cinematography and musical score, the intelligent script plays out like a subtle criticism of the political climate presently haunting countries ranging from Britain, Poland, Hungary and our own United States.
In a fashion, The Kid Who Would Be King reminded me of the popular horror film It (2017) where young people rallied together to fight evil. However, unlike It where a subterranean clown sought to devour children, this film centers on four middle school aged kids who must challenge an evil enchantress seeking to destroy mankind.
The movie begins where you see a twelve-year-old known as Alex running from two classmates who continually bully him. Seeking shelter, he enters an old construction site where he discovers Excalibur, which is embedded in a stone as expected. Removing it without much thought, Alex discovers that all hell is about to break loose that is far more dangerous than the bullies that torment him.
Louis Ashbourne Serkis, the son of actor/director Andy Serkis, dominates the film as a kid who is trying to figure out what to do with the sword that he now hides in his bedroom. He is quickly shocked when a monster breaks into his home at night with the intent to kill him. Facing what appears to be a likely death, a young lad (played splendidly by Angus Imrie) appears out of nowhere to save his life.
Alex’s rescuer, who is actually a young Merlin, explains to him the task that lies ahead. Alex is instructed that he has only 4 days before an eclipse to destroy a wicked goddess or face the end of humanity.
And there you have the adventure awaiting you on the big screen. Alex induces the two above-referred to bullies (Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris), along with his school friend Bedders, a charming Dean Chaumoo, to join him as knights of a modern-day Round Table. Thereafter, they set out to risk their own lives to save the world. It becomes both fun and intriguing to watch them track across portions of England to find a way to an island where the evil demon resides.
In addition what also adds meaning to The Kid Who Would Be King is the endearing relationship between Alex and his single mother Mary (Denise Gough). Mary sacrifices her own standing as she tries to help Alex treasure a missing father who doesn’t deserve it, and Mom becomes all the more loveable in the process.
What also helps this film succeed is the appearance of Patrick Stewart as an adult Merlin and a very talented Rebecca Ferguson as the evil Morgana from the Underworld. Though they both are on screen for a limited period of time, they provide the glue that makes this film hold your attention. Ms. Ferguson builds on the somewhat villainous personality she demonstrated in last year’s The Greatest Showman while Mr. Stewart challenges Ian McKellen as two magnificent aging actors who have not lost their skill at any level. Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood should be jealous.
As I noted above, this film tells a powerful story about what it takes to be a meaningful leader of any successful organization, regardless of how large or small it may be. Merlin teaches Alex that he can’t succeed if he is not truthful and honest at all times. In the process, I couldn’t help but wish that Merlin could appear in the White House today and teach our President to wrap himself around love and honesty and reject a policy that encourages hatred and racial fear.
Where are you Merlin when we need you?