THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING – Wonderful Family Film with a Clever Story

When I first saw the trailer for THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING I thought “Harry Potter Wanna Be,” “Someone’s Desperate for a Franchise,” and “oh god not another shite Percy Jackson style franchise try hard.” But then I got an invite to a family day screening with thanks to 20th Century Fox. I could take up to three friends and invited some of the Salty Crew. Blake, his partner DDJ, and myself trotted off with low expectations.

I did not expect I would love it and never would I imagine I would prefer it over AQUAMAN. But there you have it, THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is pretty awesome, it releases tomorrow, Thur 17th January, in Australia. It is rated PG and runs for 120mins.

The Kid Who Would Be King Louis Ashbourne Serkis image
Louis Ashbourne Serkis

BY JASON KING

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING SYNOPSIS:

Old school magic meets the modern world in this epic adventure. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis – recognise that last surname) thinks he’s just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical sword in the stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie and Sir Patrick Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

The Kid Who Would Be King Rebecca Ferguson image
Rebecca Ferguson

AN IMAGINATIVE KING ARTHUR TALE:

I’m still in a little bit of shock at how much I enjoyed THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. It takes a relatively nobody kid, the kid next door you wouldn’t hang out with and turns him into a remarkable hero. The plot is well thought out and cleverly carries on the King Arthur/ Excalibur tale with relative ease and wonderful modernising.

It uses the code of honour among the Knights of the Round Table and combines that with a strong message against bullying and does a lot of the unexpected. As opposed to the bullies of the movie becoming bumbling idiots who get their just-desserts, as would be the standard trope, it gets turned around and the bullied kids, Alex and Bedders, sign up the bullies, Lance and Kaye, to their cause to save the world as we know it. I absolutely loved this thinking-out-of-the-box approach to the bullying message.

It does adhere to the Potteresque small kid-can-defeat-evil with Alex’s Voldermort being Rebecca Ferguson as the arisen Morgana. Merlin is a younger wizard who has taken on this form to be more approachable to the younger knights however he is so damn looney that most people think he is a freak. In all honesty he is bloody hysterical and the hand movements he does to perform his spells are soon about to annoy the crap out of families by younger kids who are going to be doing it incessantly.

WILL APPEAL TO THE WHOLE FAMILY:

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is a family movie with that will appeal to everyone from the youngest to the grandparents. It sticks to the basics of the Excalibur/ King Arthur tale, explains some of the history, and then re-writes it for the modern times. The older Merlin explains that the story books were altered throughout history by retellings and so on. He hands Arthur the updated version at the end of the movie that made my heart go all warm and fuzzy.

Big kudos to director and writer, Joe Cornish, who is eight years between directing gigs with his last film being the most awesome ATTACK THE BLOCK. That marvel introduced us to John Boyega and starred a very cool Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who). Much love for this guy – he was the writer of ANT-MAN among his many other talents.

The Kid Who Would Be King Main Cast image
Rhianna Dorris, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Angus Imrie, Dean Chaumoo and Tom Taylor

FANTASTIC CASTING:

Louis Ashbourne Serkis is our lead, playing the somehow spiritual/chosen heir to Arthur Pendragon in this history repeating with a re-write tale. You may recognise the last part of his name, he is the son of Gollum. OK – the son of Andy Serkis, I never knew it but he has been acting for quite a while. He is in SS-GB and TABOO, voiced Peter in MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER (English Version) and he would have made you cry if you was MOWGLI on Netflix. He was Bhoot, the albino wolf with a horrendous story ark.

In my overly judgemental arrogance I, at first, thought he was a little too chubby, and very un-star-like for the lead role in the movie. But that’s the point! He nails it – he is the smallest of the entire cast and carries much of the film with ease. I cannot wait to see what he does next.

Dean Chaumoo plays Alex’s best mate, Bedders, he is one of the comic relief characters of the story and reminds me of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker’s best friend in SPIDER-MAN, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon). Him and Alex’s chemistry as besties in the movie is top notch. Then there is Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) and Lance (Tom Taylor), the bullies that for one third of the movie you despise with a passion. By the end of the movie you will love them. Keep your eye on Tom Taylor, he is going to be famous – he has major star appeal on the horizon. More judgie arrogance from me – but hey I did pick Tom Holland would be a household name when reviewing his first movie.

The Kid Who Would Be King Rhianna Dorris, Tom Taylor, Dean Chaumoo, and Louis Ashbourne Serkis image
Rhianna Dorris, Tom Taylor, Dean Chaumoo, and Louis Ashbourne Serkis

MERLIN STEALS THE SHOW:

Rebecca Ferguson filmed THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING on the weekends between weekday shooting of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT. The odd thing was I had no idea she was in this and watched Fallout the night before the screening for the third time, love that film. And LOVE HER – she is an admirable Morgana but this is a smaller role and she plays it as a somewhat dark pantomime character minus the music.

The final two characters are one and the same. Merlin is played by both Angus Imrie and Sir Patrick Stewart. Imrie is the younger completely hysterical and insane lanky-gangly Merlin all the kids will love and Patrick Stewart plays the older wise Merlin – Merlin shape shifts between the two and an owl. Imrie basically steals the show, I loved him – completely lit up the screen with innocent humour and epic hand and arm movements to perform his spells. Stewart looks like a homeless Merlin but sprouts a very cool line when popping up for the wiser moments. I can’t remember it all – it’s something like; “Every young child has a wise old wizard inside of them and every wise old wizard has a young child inside of them.” I know it’s not perfect but it was poignant at the time.

The Kid Who Would Be King Patrick Stewart and Louis Ashbourne Serkis image
Patrick Stewart and Louis Ashbourne Serkis

IN CONCLUSION:

THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING has a certain Narnia/ Hook/ Goonies kind of charm to it. I was expecting very little and was thoroughly impressed by this modernised family Excalibur fantasy quest film. It had a good message, a wonderful plot and a script a thousand times better than AQUAMAN. I do hope sequels are forthcoming.

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.