Movie Review: “The Kid Who Would Be King”
The Kid Who Would Be King
Alexander (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is an ordinary kid, with ordinary problems. He has to deal with a couple of school bullies on a regular basis, but has his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) by his side. One evening, Alexander is running away from the bullies when he stumbles into a construction site. That is when something peculiar catches his eye. He sees a sword protruding from a chunk of concrete, but (curiously) he is able to pull it out with ease.
Alexander quickly shows Bedders his sword, but things start to get very strange the next day. There is a weird new kid at school, who seems oddly obsessed with Alexander. The kid tells him that he is the infamous wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie), Alexander is King Arthur’s heir, and that the sword he pulled is actually Excalibur. Before all of this is able to sink in, Merlin also informs Alexander that King Arthur’s evil half-sister will be rising (with an army) to retrieve the sword and enslave humanity. Alexander is just a boy, but Excalibur chose him to be the one to save mankind. He will definitely need some help, but will need to count on some unlikely allies.
The Pros & Cons
Alexander & His Knights (+6pts)
The Plans (-4pts)
Merlin’s Spells (-2pts)
The Sword & The Lady of The Lake (+4pts)
Pro: Alexander & His Knights (+6pts)
Louis Ashbourne Serkis did a good job in the lead role of this movie. Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, and Rhianna Dorris did great jobs in their respective supporting roles (as Alexander’s knights). The group was a fun group to watch, as they had the interesting dynamic of being two bullies working together with the kids they bully. I liked this dynamic, although that storyline was a bit predictable. Regardless, I enjoyed watching these kids working together and I liked that each had their unique strengths, although we never got to see Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) was somewhat underdeveloped compared to the rest.
It was fun to go along with these kids on their journey, and it was fun to see how they took on Morgana’s minions in the final battle. The bullies were interesting to see developed, but my favorite dynamic was the one between Alexander and Bedders. I do not want to give anything away, but it was a fun friendship to see. One of my favorite parts of this movie was the early stages of the final fight. I really enjoyed seeing how each of these kids acted as a sort of General in their war, and I enjoyed seeing how each section handled Morgana’s minions differently. The movie was not perfect, but it was fun to go along with, and I believe these kids were the primary reason for this.
Con: The Plans (-4pts)
I liked the movie because of the group of kids, but it always felt like they had no real plan. Alexander decides to go searching for his father for answers, but he has a pretty flimsy reason in believing that his father has the answers he is looking for. It also seemed strange that his friends decided to join him on this journey, even though he did not have much to go on. It then seemed even stranger that Merlin decided not to say anything when he knew something that would make the whole mission feel like a waste of time. It seemed like the filmmakers wanted Alexander and his knights to have something to do before making a reveal later in the movie, but the filmmakers could not think of anything productive for the characters to be doing. The result is a good chunk of the movie that could have been cut. Cutting it would have let the filmmakers focus on other things and tell a much more entertaining story.
Like I said before, one of my favorite part of this movie was the early stages of the final battle, but even then it seemed like the kids had a very poor plan. They had a rough plan of how to trap Morgana, but had no reason to believe that Morgana would ever be in that exact spot. The kids relied on convenience and luck, which made the climax feel less impactful. It was as if they needed a step-by-step, A-to-Z plan to get Morgana. Instead of planning for every step, they planned for A, D, J, Q, and Z (then kind of just hoped that the rest would work out on its own). This made the plan feel very weak and made the climax of the movie feel less impactful than it should have been.
Pro: Merlin (+4pts)
I thought this character was one of the more interesting, and entertaining parts of this movie. Merlin was King Arthur’s advisor, mentor, and wizard. Now that King Arthur’s trusted sword has returned, Merlin seeks out Alexander to aid him in his quest to stop the evil Morgana. However, Merlin disguises himself as a young teen in order to blend in. The idea of Merlin in a kid’s body was a lot of fun to see explored. I liked the character a lot, and was always left wanting to see more.
The character is far from the film’s main focus, but the movie was always more entertaining when he was on screen, and the actor was the main reason why. Angus Imrie played the young Merlin and had a ton of charisma. Merlin is an alien to this time, and I enjoyed seeing Angus Imrie play into that. This movie had its flaws, but Merlin was far from one of them. The character was interesting, and the young actor made him very entertaining.
Con: Merlin’s Spells (-2pts)
As I have mentioned already, I liked the character a lot, but the manner in which he casted spells felt like a weird creative choice. Was this idea one that the actor brought to the table, or was it something the filmmakers wanted? I do not know the answer to that question, but I do know that Merlin’s spell casting was so silly that it felt very out-of-place. Whenever the guy wanted to use some magic, he would start snapping and slapping his hands together in a really bizarre manner.
At first, I thought I would get used to it, but I never did. It felt silly (more silly than the tone of the movie called for) which made it feel like it did not belong. The tone of the movie was always light, but this aspect of Merlin made the character (at times) feel like a cheap parody of what he should have been. I liked every other aspect of the character, but every time he went to cast a spell, I found myself distracted by how dumb the snapping and slapping looked.
Pro: The Sword & The Lady of The Lake (+4pts)
King Arthur is a story that has been told many times in many different ways. One recurring aspect of this story is King Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur. In this movie, the sword reveals itself to Alexander and has some magical properties, but the filmmakers did not over do it. When dealing with this mythical sword, it would be easy to make the sword immensely powerful in an attempt to add cool action to the movie, and increase audience curiosity in the iconic weapon. However, I thought the filmmakers gave the sword the right amount of power (which was not a whole lot).
The sword warns Alexander of danger, only he can pull it from a stone, and the sword is not very effective when in the hands of someone else. The other mythical aspect of the sword is it’s relationship to The Lady of The Lake. The Lady of The Lake is the keeper of the sword. Whenever the sword is lost or broken, the chosen King needs only to find a body of water and ask The Lady of The Lake to return it. It is such a simple idea, and does not give Alexander any sort of advantage, but it adds a ton of mystery to the sword and makes the story feel way more magical.
Con: Morgana (-4pts)
Morgana was played by Rebecca Ferguson, who I have seen good performances from, but this character ended up being pretty disappointing and one-dimensional. She is evil, turns into a giant monster when it was convenient for her to be menacing, and she turns into her more human form when it was convenient to show the actress playing the character. The character felt like a very underdeveloped video game boss, and made for a pretty bland final fight. The filmmakers failed to make the character interesting or entertaining, so she ended up being very forgetful.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
I got some mild enjoyment out of this movie, but it was unfortunately nothing special. I liked the group of kids, I liked the early stages of the final battle, and I liked the character of Merlin. I also enjoyed the relationship between Excalibur and The Lady of The Lake, but I did have some issues with the movie. The majority of the film’s issues came from poor writing. A lot of the movie was spent following Alexander on a mission that was a colossal waste of time. To make this worse, Merlin knew it was a waste of time, yet for some reason did not have a problem with it. This, however, was not the film’s only issue.
The filmmakers also relied on convenience as a plot device to setup the final stage of the final battle. The antagonist was also severely underdeveloped, and not very entertaining. Due to these issues, the kid’s mission (for the majority of the movie) felt meaningless, and the antagonist felt very bland. I also thought Merlin’s snapfest spellcasting felt silly (in a bad way), and distracting. I had my issues with the movie, but I was mildly entertained from start to finish, which I think can be contributed to the fun dynamic between the actors who played Alexander and his group of companions (Bedders, Lance, Kaye, and Merlin). It was a fun group dynamic that made this movie much more entertaining than it should have been.