Friday, 14 June 2019

The Kid Who Would Be King ★★★★☆

Every time I saw a poster or a bit of marketing for The Kid Who Would Be King, I got angry. I don’t know why, but something about it enraged me. The title made it sound like an abysmal, obnoxious kids’ film. But I should’ve looked closer. I should’ve seen Joe Cornish’s name attached – if I had, I would’ve been relieved and excited. For those of you who don’t know, Cornish is one half of comedy duo Adam and Joe, directed Attack the Block and co-wrote Ant-Man. Yep, no reason to worry with him at the helm.

The Kid Who Would Be King follows the young Alex who stumbles upon the mythical sword Excalibur on a building site when hiding from bullies. With the power of the sword, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin, take on the wicked enchantress Morgana who gets stronger with every day. With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be. Despite being a box office bomb and losing an estimated $50 million, this is actually a delightful old-school romp for all ages and one that could well be a future family film classic.

This film has such a nostalgic warmth and heart that I was whizzed back to my childhood watching it. The special effects-filled me with wonder, the humour made me chuckle, the action had me on the edge of my seat. I was pretty enthralled by the film, which is surprising considering I went in with preconceived notions that I was going to hate it. So where do we begin?

First of all, the young cast are great. Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy, portrays our hero and gives the film its heart. He’s brilliant and has clearly inherited his father’s talent onscreen. He makes the film so relatable for anyone who has ever been a kid. The supporting youngsters – Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris – are all fine too. Special mention should go to Angus Imrie who plays Merlin (Merlin ages backwards, he has the appearance of a teenager after centuries have passed). Angus is absolutely superb in the role of the quirky and eccentric wizard, and one of the most memorable things about the film. When Merlin shifts into an older body, he is, obviously, played by Patrick Stewart. Who else?

The film’s visuals are pretty stunning too – the final showdown at the school is actually one of the best battle scenes I’ve seen in years. But ignoring the film’s visuals, acting, comedy and everything else – it gets by on its heart alone. This film is so full of childlike joy and wonders that you’d have to have a heart of pure stone to not be moved and entertained by it. It’s such a charming romp that it will make you feel 10 years old again no matter what your age – and if you don’t like it, then you should probably consult a cardiologist, you heartless bastard. The Kid Who Would Be King is an absolute delight and perfect viewing for a wet Sunday afternoon.

Sam Love

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