Saturday, September 7, 2019

DVD Review: The Kid Who Would Be King

A fun and engaging youth-oriented take on the King Arthur mythology, with a little heavy-handed lecturing thrown in for good measure.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of Andy Serkis, famed for his special-effects-aided performance as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films), stars as Alex, a pre-teen living with his single mom in a British suburb. He’s not one of the popular kids, but he does stand up for his bullied friends, including Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), a portly but cheerful nerd. When the two main bullies at the school try to fight him after class, Alex flees, and ends up in a seemingly abandoned and collapsing construction site. He discovers a sword sticking up out of a stone, and sucessfully draws it, with no audience to see him.

The action of pulling Excaliber does bring Merlin out of hiding, who realizes he must find Arthur’s inheritor and assemble a team of knights to do battle with Morgana, who is also returning to the mortal world…in search of Excaliber herself.

It takes a while for the young-appearing Merlin (portrayed by Angus Imrie as a teen, and by Patrick Stewart as an older version) to convince Alex and Bedders of the truth, and they end up surprisingly teaming up with the bullies, Lance and Kaye, to go on a quest for Alex’s missing father, who may hold the secret of where to defeat Morgana.

The kids are engaging, particularly Serkis as a very earnest young Alex, and Imrie as an intense Merlin. The special effects, as our heroes battles Morgana’s resurrected undead minions, are pretty impressive. There are humor, sadness, treachery, honor and nobility. There are multiple quests, and character growth for most of the young leads. The cinematography is noteworthy, with scenes along the coast and in the English countryside that are gorgeous, and a final battle between the forces of good and evil on the grounds of the middle-school which all the kids attend.

Yeah, there are silly and unbelievable things, but in the end, I enjoyed The Kid Who Would Be King very much. There were moments that were breathtaking, such as the Lady of the Lake presenting the sword to Alex after he’s faltered in his quest. And those moments more than made up for any failing in this kid-oriented film!

[ If you liked this film, you may also enjoy Excaliber (1981) — my favorite retelling of the Arthurian legend, starring Nigel Terry and Nicol Williamson, though it is definitely not for kids. And Camelot, the classic 1967 musical, starring Richard Harris, is another fun telling of this tale. ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you watched this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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