Review: THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING Boasts Its Crown

the kid who would be king excalibur
Louis Ashbourne Serkis stars in Twentieth Century Fox's THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.

With The Kid Who Would Be King, writer-director Joe Cornish shows that medieval fun isn’t just for grown-ups who watch Game of Thrones.

The Kid Who Would Be King is a new family-oriented fantasy adventure written and directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). It is about a group of kids that embark on a journey to thwart the evil witch Morgana when one of them is able to pull the sword Excalibur out of the stone.

The film’s story is relatively straightforward. It is rather predictable because the script follows the formula of the fantasy epic to the beat. The hero’s journey is a common story archetype that dates back to some of the earliest stories told by man. Since this formula has been around for so long, it can be hard to make a film of this type stand out. However, this also means that the hero’s journey is a tried-and-true success if done properly.

The characters in the movie are highly compelling. What kid doesn’t dream of being a hero with magical powers? Every child who sees this movie is going to want to be the protagonist, and as such, will find the story to be fun and compelling. The film also contains some strong, but not overly preachy, anti-bullying messages. This makes the movie more relatable, but more importantly, makes it an important watch for younger generations.

the kid who would be king round table
L-R: Rhianna Dorris, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Angus Imrie, Dean Chaumoo, and Tom Taylor star in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.

Perhaps this film’s biggest issue is its pacing. The movie is over two hours, which is pretty long for a film aimed at younger audiences. It is never boring, but there are some moments in the movie which weren’t entirely necessary, such as an extended red herring in the second act. That being said, the abundance of fantasy action and lighthearted laughs is sure to keep most children (just not the youngest ones) occupied.

The protagonist is played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy Serkis. He delivers a strong performance with a range that is impressive for such a young actor. It is nearly impossible to imagine anyone else playing the role as well as he did. However, the highlight of the film is Angus Imrie, who plays the younger version of Merlin. Irmie’s delivery of the comedic lines is great, eliciting most of the movie’s laughs.

the kid who would be king action
Louis Ashbourne Serkis stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.

Dean Chaumoo is the weakest link in the cast. He is still likable in the role, but he seems to be struggling through his lines in quite a few scenes. Perhaps had a few more takes been shot of each of those scenes, the delivery could have been corrected. The most frustrating part of the film is that it underused the big-name actors in its cast. Neither Patrick Stewart nor Rebecca Ferguson are used to their full potential. It’s a shame, as either of them easily could have been a scene-stealer.

The visuals are pretty solid. For the most part, the CGI looks really strong. Some of the creatures don’t have so much polish, but the demonic soldiers look impressively creepy. The cinematography is mostly good too. Apart from some shots that are oversaturated, cinematographer Bill Pope did a great job of capturing both the action and the beautiful scenery.

Overall, The Kid Who Would Be King was a fun fantasy adventure for all ages. It may be formulaic and a bit too long, but it’s an enjoyable watch nonetheless.

The Kid Who Would Be King opens in theaters on January 25.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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