It’s February 2019 and right now, everything feels a bit bleak right now doesn’t it? The rich continue to get richer as the amount of those without increases. Brexit. Trump. The list is endless. With all that darkness, we need a bit of light. Which is what writer-director Joe Cornish (his first film since 2011’s Attack The Block) brings us with this modern take on the legend of King Arthur.
Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) finds a sword stuck in a stone at a building site. He pulls the sword out with ease, not realising what this now means for him and the rest of Great Britain. In four days, during the next eclipse, the evil Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) will take the chance to steal the stone and condemn the citizens of Great Britain to eternal slavery. It’s down to Alex to create an army, with best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and reluctant bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). Merlin is also on hand to help, both in young form (Angus Imrie) and older form (Patrick Stewart). But can a small group of teenagers save a country from true evil?
This is the perfect film for right now, a fact which is semi-referred to within the film itself. Alex is constantly laughed at for remaining optimistic in face of the current state of the world. But that’s the thing about hope, it’s hard to keep it when everyone else has lost theirs and also requires that much more strength to retain when the odds are stacked against you. That’s why being being optimistic essentially makes you a superhero, or at the very least a total legend.
Serkis plays Alex wonderfully, able to convey so much depth in his performance. He’s a young master at that old show don’t tell. We’re quick to take his side, routing for him throughout the various battles he finds himself confronting. Chaumoo, Taylor and Dorris are all excellent as the knights who reluctantly join him in battle. It’s Imrie though who is the film’s MVP, he truly commits to the old-man-in-young-body archetype and it pays off. He’s funny and totally endearing.
The film clocks in at almost 2 hours exactly, which is slightly too long. Some of the escapades could have been shortened down for pace. And yet, when the material is this good, you’ll be more than happy to stay. The script is packed with some fantastic one liners, the teacher’s response to school being cancelled so students can train to save the world being ‘But year 11 were meant to be off timetable for intensive intervention’ was a personal favourite.
The Kid Who Would Be King is released just in time for half term, a truly perfect decision as this is the kind of family friendly fantasy-comedy we don’t get nearly often enough. Grab the kids and go see it. Go laugh, maybe get a bit weepy and get fully engaged in a cracking story. Are you not entertained?
The Kid Who Would Be King is in UK cinemas from Friday 15th February.