Well, it’s gotta be better than the actual King Arthur movie we got.
The story looks like it’s about a young kid who gets caught up in a real-life King Arthur situation where he is the chosen one to wield the legendary Excalibur sword and lead an army against an ancient evil.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Andy Serkis’ son, Louis Ashbourne Serkis (ALICE 2 ), Tom Taylor (DARK TOWER ), Angus Imrie (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible ROGUE NATION  and FALLOUT , LIFE , GIRL/TRAIN , and upcoming films MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL  and DOCTOR SLEEP ), and Patrick Stewart (EMOJI MOVIE , GREEN ROOM , TED 2 , X-MEN , X2: X-MEN UNITED , X-MEN: LAST STAND , and FUTURE PAST , and upcoming films CHARLIE’S ANGELS  and DRAGON RIDER ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have Joe Cornish, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Electric Wave Bureau, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. The cinematographer is Bill Pope, known for BABY DRIVER (2017), JUNGLE BOOK (2016), MEN IN BLACK 3 (2012), and upcoming films ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (2019) and CHARLIE’S ANGELS. Finally, the co-editors are Jonathan Amos (PADDINGTON 2 , UNITED KINGDOM , and GRIMSBY ) and Paul Machliss (BABY DRIVER).
Overall, I don’t know how to feel about this movie. I’m getting quite the Karate Kid meets STAR WARS: PHANTOM MENACE kind of vibe, but it also looks like it’s kind of self-aware of that. I guess anything’s possible, but I’m not expecting much from this.
This is my honest opinion of: THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING
Set in London. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a twelve-year-old kid who lives with his single mom Mary (Denise Gough) and gets bullied with his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) by Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). After standing up to the two of them, they chase him into a construction site and leave when they think they accidentally killed him as he fell off a ledge. Alex wakes up fine and then discovers a sword in a block of stone, pulls it out, and takes it home. What he doesn’t realize is that the ancient evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (Rebecca Ferguson) is gaining more power for her return to the world and the only hope that Alex has is from the help of Merlin (Angus Imrie), who must convince him that he’s the chosen heir as King Arthur’s successor and prepare him for the upcoming conflict.
Meh… it’s alright. I’m obviously not the intended audience. Still, had some good, had some annoying.
My biggest issue with the flick is that it’s obviously a kids movie. I know that sounds strange to say, but hear me out. When I say that, it’s because you have characters written in very obvious ways that’s distracting. You have a fantastical situation that Alex tries to explain to his mother, in this real world bound by logic no less, and surprise surprise, Alex’s mom doesn’t believe him. And more than a couple of characters are so annoying that they never really shut up or play out of their stereotypes. Specifically, I’m referring to both Bedders and Merlin. Bedders is a nervous wreck, constantly acting like the resident coward on par with Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, and narrating his train of thought, or spelling out what we already know from what the movie showed us. Merlin is eccentric and invasive. He’s also not written well. I understand that he’s doing the “fish out of water” thing and doesn’t know how things work in the current world. On the one hand, that works to his advantage as he puts a lot of people under spells and basically does a whole Jedi mind trick deal. But then there’s the issues like his behavior. If he intended to warn Alex about Morgana and her intentions to kill him, what does it matter to be a student at his school and creepily stalk him? Just go up to him, tell him what’s what, and help him prepare. But, no. Somehow, creepy stares and hopping on a table to announce that Alex is now a king, is comic gold. Somehow, it’s not dawned on him that after thousands of years, things would have changed, and he makes no effort in understanding how. Yet, in other scenes, he knows that things have changed. It’s just confusing and never makes his character feel real. He belongs in a cartoon, not a live-action movie set in a world that’s supposed to be, at least, kind of real. I know these are typical of kids films, but I’ve always had a problem with movies that did that in the past, I certainly have problems with it now. There’s a way to make a kids movie and have the characters act like normal people and react to things in a normal way.
But it the movie a complete loss? Well… I did say that this movie does have some good stuff in it, so evidently not.
One of the best consistent elements is the star himself, young Serkis. We can all agree that this kid got this role because of his dad, but make no mistake, Serkis does a pretty solid job for what he’s given. He comes across as the only real kid in the entire movie. He’s dorky, but he’s not afraid to stand up to bullies, even though he doesn’t like to fight. He loves his mom, he’s not portrayed as overly smart, he’s mild-mannered, he’s basically the textbook definition of normal. It’s as if Emmet from THE LEGO MOVIE was a live-action kid. It really works, and as the story progresses, he has a nice arc of growing into not just a competent warrior, but a fearless and inspiring leader. I admit, he carried the film really well.
One of the first things I fell in love with was, quite naturally, Morgana’s look. I love how she’s basically covered in bark and thick vines. She looks like she’s actually part of the tree. Like a demon version of Grandmother Willow from POCAHONTAS. Even though her vines are clearly CG, the way they move is so chilling and creepy. Almost snake-like. I don’t know, every time Morgana comes on screen, I just get a little more giddy. Even when things come to a head later on, the way the lighting and shadows are done as she transforms into a monster just looks great. Morgana herself may be a pretty thin character, but she’s presented well, so I can appreciate that much. In fact, there are a fair amount of good visuals. Of course, Morgana’s monstrous form is cool, but so are the flaming skeleton warriors at her disposal. I even give credit that some of the fighting is surprisingly aggressive and fast-paced. A lot of kids movies actually tone this down, but here, it almost feels like legit action scenes in a serious movie. Granted, not all of the action is this good, but it’s there.
Despite how a lot of these characters get on my nerves, I have to admit that they eventually grew on me. Bedders is a character who never shut up about how he and Alex are like Frodo and Sam, but at some point getting wrapped up in their adventure, he does prove to have a stalwart heart. He stands up to the bullies too. Even though he still gets pushed around and isn’t the most competent fighter, he still doesn’t give up the fight and is in on the action. Also, the bullies, Lance and Kaye, are also pretty boring. But I do like their progression from being bullies to allies of Alex and how it takes it time with it. It’s not very often that we see it in general, but to see it take form over a pretty lengthy period is quite welcomed.
<<<SPOILERS>>> [ I also think there’s at least one legitimately emotional scene. When Alex returns home from his adventure, he talks to his mom about everything that he learned about his father, which was a really good scene too, but the tenderness in which they spoke to each other, that calm but stern acknowledgement that they should always be honest with each other no matter what happens. And in a freakishly weird turn of events, this movie does what I thought was impossible: making the excuse of “I lied to you to protect you” a good reason. This entire time, we’re ready to learn that Alex’s long-lost father is some kind of lost hero that will give Alex the motivation to continue his journey, but we later discover that he didn’t leave his family because he was struggling with being the hero that Alex would end up becoming, but because he really was a deadbeat dad who didn’t want anything to do with either of them. I don’t know about the rest of you, but didn’t see that coming. This movie went full LAST JEDI on this kid, but it’s done, somehow, so much better here. Alex is really traumatized and feels like he can’t go on. He’s hyped himself up that he’ll eventually get some adult help who knows how all of this works. Someone that he can put his trust in, who isn’t Merlin, only to discover that he started this journey alone and he’s going to be alone in it for awhile. It’s his friends who give him that boost of confidence to carry on. Not only does this movie have the guts to tackle a hard subject of deadbeat fathers and go all the way with it, but it’s perfectly understandable why his mom lied to Alex. He loved his dad without ever knowing the truth about him and she wanted her son to have his love for his father that he may never actually see again in his life. This is a rare case of lying that anyone could actually get behind. Bravo, movie. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Overall, this movie has its highs and lows. I give credit that Serkis is a good actor, his character has a good arc, and there are a few neat visuals, mostly centered around Ferguson’s Morgana. But because we’re stuck with annoying characters, especially Merlin, who never ceases to be a level ten creeper, it’s a mixed bag. I can’t be too upset with it, and for all intents and purposes, it’s a harmless enough movie with some passable morals and themes. In that respect, I think kids will be fine watching this. As for adults, eh, you’re not missing anything.
My honest rating for THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING: 3/5
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