The film title THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is likely used due to familiarity with the medieval hit, John Huston’s 1975 Rudyard Kipling adaptation of THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING. Don’t let either the title or the fact that this is a family film discourage you from seeing this picture. Despite the film’s limitations of targeting a family audience, there is plenty to enjoy for adults. Also ignore the silly ad” “Kids Rule” that would turn off adults.
The story follows Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy) a young boy who is picked on at school and does not appear to be very special at all. However, that soon changes when he finds and pulls King Arthur’s famous sword Excalibur in the neighbourhood construction site. He discovers that he is destined to form a new round table for an upcoming battle with the medieval villain Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who summons evil forces to rule the world, after being banished by King Arthur. All this information is revealed at the film’s prologue – animation style. The wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie) assists Alex in his quest. He is depicted as a young incarnation of Merlin in the film but capable of transforming to his old self (Sir Patrick Stewart).
If Morgana’s evil forces, creatures made up dark black with infra-red eyes look familiar, these creatures bear an uncanny resemblance to the invading aliens in ATTACK ON THE BLOCK, a small first feature that was a hit. And with solid reason. KID is directed by that film’s same director Joe Cornish who has the talent of bringing his films filled with spirit, humour and imagination.
Performances are surprisingly spectacular. Deserving of mention is relative newcomer Angus Imrie who plays the young Merlin, who suddenly appears as a new student to help Alex in his quest to save the world. Also delivering a heartwarming and sometimes gut-wrenching performance is Denise Gough, an Olivier Award (British Theatre) winner who plays Alex’s mum.
The location where the fights and setting take place is stunningly captured on film by cinematographer Bill Pope. The film is shot in the Cornwall area, south coast of England. The film can also be considered to be a super action hero film, with Alex as the young schoolboy King Arthur type hero saving the world. The film also has plenty of special effects to go with it – so action fans will be delighted. The special effects is dished out small doses at a time with nothing much at the first half of the film but then coming out strong at the end creating a solid climax for the film.
Cornish’s clever script contains plenty of messages as if to mock films with messages. These come on strong even at the beginning of the film. “Telling the truth and doing the right thing.” “The world doe not change – you do!” “You do not need what you already have!” “Use your enemies as your allies.”
THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING is an often imaginative super hero adventure cleverly blending medieval times with the modern with lots of good messages from the director Joe Cornish who the TFCA (Toronto Film Critics Association) awarded the Best First Feature way back when for his equally impressive 2011 ATTACK ON THE BLOCK. This film rules!