Review: 'Kid Who Would Be King' unleashes a dull sword

Posted 2/8/19

“The Kid Who Would Be King” is a lesser-known family film based on the classic Arthurian legend that’s fun for all ages.

I was actually fairly excited to see this movie, as I’m a …

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Review: 'Kid Who Would Be King' unleashes a dull sword


“The Kid Who Would Be King” is a lesser-known family film based on the classic Arthurian legend that’s fun for all ages.

I was actually fairly excited to see this movie, as I’m a huge fan of knights, King Arthur and the middle ages. When I saw the trailer for this production, I was intrigued. It looked interesting, action-packed, and perhaps most importantly, different. During this day and age, you either see a commercial for a superhero movie or for an all-out, guns blazing action film. While superhero films are entertaining, it seems that theater screens are overly saturated with them. Action films can be good, but many are done so quickly they never have a good plot. “The Kid Who Would Be King” is neither tiresome or rushed.

Obviously, this is based on the novel “The Once and Future King,” which tells the story of Arthur, who would go on to be the only person to successfully pull the sword Excalibur from a stone. Disney has made its mark on the legend with its “The Sword in the Stone” – a tragically underrated Disney flick, by the way. There have also been countless films centering on Arthur and his knights of the round table, but none actually starring a kid.

This movie stars Louis Ashbourne Serkis, who plays Alex, a young British student who is often bullied. Believing himself to always be the victim, Alex is surprised to find a sword in a stone at a construction site. As he is the only one to be able to remove it, he draws the attention of the ancient wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart), who comes to England to guide and train Alex to defeat a coming evil in the form of the sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). To blend in with society, Merlin adopts a youthful appearance (Angus Imrie) and enrolls as a student at Alex’s school.

This was one of those films that really makes a good case for anti-bullying, as nothing is more infuriating than seeing a pretentious and obviously low-on-self-esteem bully picking on those smaller than him. Alex is a small kid, and is often being bullied alongside his schoolyard friend. It isn’t until he discovers the sword that Alex begins to believe in himself and his abilities.

The acting in “The Kid” is great. Serkis does a great job as the protagonist, while conversely Ferguson is an excellently creepy, if underused, villain. Patrick Stewart, although being on screen very little, definitely steals the show, as he always does. We definitely see Imrie’s rendition of a young Merlin far more than Stewart’s; this fact was a bit annoying, as I found Imrie to be a bit irritating. Regardless, he definitely “acted” well. And while she gave off that creepy aura, Ferguson’s Morgana felt absolutely harmless. We see so little of her that we tend to fear her undead minions more than her. When she’s finally revealed, it’s in a bit of an anticlimactic finish with very little screen time. All that buildup for nothing, essentially.

My biggest complaint about this film is how tame it is. I suppose that says something about the younger generation, but it’s true that we are a bit spoiled as moviegoers now. If things aren’t action-packed, intriguing, horrifying or unique, we aren’t very interested by them. That’s how “The Kid” felt. It was a good movie, but that’s all. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t anything that I’d ever want to see again. That’s not to say younger viewers won’t enjoy it, but adults may get a bit bored.

The runtime for this film (2 hours) seemed a bit excessive, too. The use of Excalibur was interesting, but putting it into the hands of children made it seem a bit farfetched. I think it would have been neater to see him find the sword, then grow up a bit and face Morgana. But having a movie about Medieval content taking place in 2019 is already stretching things a bit anyhow.

Overall, I believe that parents will enjoy this film, as there’s hardly anything bad in it whatsoever. Kids will enjoy the action, humor and childhood representation. If anything, this movie shows children as capable people, rather than people who are too young to understand “end of the world” stuff. Go check it out if you’re looking for a tame family flick good for the whole family.

“The Kid Who Would Be King” is rated PG for fantasy-action violence, scary images and thematic elements, including some bullying and language. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.


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