Gather around the round table, 3.5 readers, for it is time for a review of “The Kid Who Would Be King.”
Someone call the late, late, late, incredibly late Arthur Pendragon’s agent because that guy is posthumously hot lately. However, unlike 2017’s Guy Ritchie directed “King Arthur,” this latest flick, as kids’ movies go, is mildly enjoyable.
Let me put it this way. I don’t think it is destined to become that childhood classic that today’s youth will break out and watch year after year, but for parents, it is something you can take your kid to and your eyes won’t completely glaze over.
Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of the infamous motion actor Andy (the guy who gets into one of those green suits with ping pong balls over it so computer geeks can turn him into various CGI monsters) stars as Alex, a British boy who attends Dungate Academy.
He and his bestie, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), are a pair of dweebs who are bullied early and often by cool kids Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris).
While on the run from one such bullying session, Alex hides out in a construction site, only to miraculously locate the accidentally excavated “sword in the stone.” Only the heir to King Arthur’s throne will be able to remove Excalibur, so when the boy does so, this is a very big deal indeed.
Alas, Alex gets more than just a mere pointy trophy. He’s now got a duty. He must save Britain from Morgana, Arthur’s half-sister turned witch (Rebecca Ferguson.) As early narration informs us, she’s laid low in the bowels of the earth, waiting for a time when mankind has become so divided that she can easily swoop in and take over. Cue endless number of borderline heavy handed allusions to how everyone on all sides of the political divide need to stop bickering and come together to face any number of threats and dangers coming the world’s way.
As we are also told, Arthur had a knack for turning enemies into allies, a trait that is sorely needed in today’s leadership. Alex manages to do so with Lance and Kaye, turning his former bullies into his trusty knights.
Other critics have noted that the performances of the various kid actors were somewhat flat. I mean, you know, they’re kids, so I didn’t really expect any of them to break out as the next Al Pacino. I felt the kid who played Bedders had an innocent lacky quality, blindly following his buddy and saying naive, “the world is a nice place” type things to motivate Alex, things that only an innocent kid who has yet to be knocked out by the world’s endless “No” machine would believe.
The kid who played Lance comes off as a typical bully and the girl who plays Kaye comes off as his lackey. Overall, everyone did what they needed to do and I wonder if a flat performance by Serkis might have been the point. The kid’s character, is, after all, just a normal, average kid. He isn’t extraordinary. He’s picked on all the time. The kid that the whole school loves could easily get everyone behind him. The kid who gets the snot kicked out of him because kids think that’s a fun thing to do will have the harder challenge to unite his classmates against the forces of evil.
Admittedly though, the film is rather British. Had it been American, there would have been endless fart jokes, burp jokes, and so on. One kid would have definitely got kicked in the nads or something. (Not gonna lie, as an American, I think these additions would have turned the flick into a classic.) Alas, the Brits prefer to find higher forms of humor I suppose.
The character who truly makes the movie come to life is Merlin. Sometimes he’s an owl. Sometimes he’s Sir Patrick Stewart (i.e. the old version of Merlin who is only broken out when the kids aren’t listening and require an adult to drive some sense into them.) Most of the time he’s young Merlin, having taken a teenage form so as to easily blend in while keeping an eye on the kid heroes. Angus Imrie takes that role and not to dump on any of the other kids but if forced to place a bet on which kid has a future in show business, I’d put my money on this one. His take on Merlin is the main source of laughter in the film – wild eyed and crazy, performing magic spells that require an elaborate series of hand gestures. By the way, if his take on modern day fast food doesn’t get you to swear off that swill completely, then nothing will.
My one criticism is I did think some of the monsters might have been a little scary for kids, but then again I don’t think this film is meant for the wee ones. It’s geared toward tweens. High school kids will scoff. Toddlers should run for cover. Anyone in the middle will find it just right.