Film Review: THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING (USA/UK 2019) ****

The Kid Who Would Be King Poster
Trailer

A band of kids embark on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.

Director:

Joe Cornish

Writer:

Joe Cornish

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!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJlxP5P9v9c

Film Review: THE DARK TOWER (USA 2017) ***

the dark tower.jpgThe last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Writers: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Jeff Pinkner (screenplay)
Stars: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor

Review by Gilbert Seah

 The film’s story from ‘imdb’ goes this way: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

The film has been reported to have gone through $6 million in reshoots and production troubles. Though based on 8 volumes of a series by author Stephen king, the story sounds absolutely terrible. But surprisingly the film is not all that bad.

The main difference is the introduction of Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), an 11-year-old adventure seeker who discovers clues about another dimension called Mid-World. The story now become more credible, because the audience can identify with a human being or a boy at that. No one believes him, least of all his mother and her new husband who have arranged for him to attend a psychological retreat. His dreams on being chased by ‘skin’ people’ are realized when the skin people (recognized by him) show up at his home to take him to the retreat, This results in an exciting chase on the rooftops. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to Mid-World where he encounters a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who is on a quest to reach the “Dark Tower” that resides in End-World and reach the nexus point between time and space that he hopes will save all existence from extinction. But with various monsters and a vicious sorcerer named Walter o’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), the Man in Black hot on their trail, the unlikely duo find that their quest may be difficult to complete.

The film deserves to be commended for its continuity. When Jake throws his shoe through the portal as a test, his shoe is shown after he enters it. He is also shown in need for water and food after entering the new land.

McConaughey makes a creepy and evil enough villain without having to overdo it. While Elba seems wooden in his role, it is sort of expected for a gunslinger not to emit any emotions. Taylor as the kid is an excellent find (though his British accent is detectable in some parts), putting the much needed human feeling into the film.

The film is noticeable violent down to details like chards of glass pulled out from a hand and realities like the death of close ones. The special effects are primarily used for the action sequences though the film’s most interesting parts are the parts on earth involving Jake in school and at home.

The film successfully combines several genres like horror, sci-fi, western and fantasy.

The ultimate question is how well the film does at the box-office as THE DARK TOWER is expected to be one of many films to come. At a production cost of $60 million, which is modest in comparison to futuristic films, THE DARK TOWER should at least make a decent profit.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjwfqXTebIY

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