Kid Who Would Be King
The King Arthur story has been told in many ways, but this latest
one is really designed for kids to enjoy.
Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is a middle-school kid in an English
private school, complete with coat-and-tie unforms, and older kids who
bully the younger ones. When
Alex finds that his best friend, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) is being targeted,
he runs to his friend's rescue, only to earn detention, because he
wouldn't say who started the fight. His Mother (Denise Gough) is clearly
disappointed in him, and says that his father would be, also, because he
always wanted his son to be a good boy.
Unfortunately, Dad's not around any more, and hasn't been for a
while. Alex doesn't tell his
Mother, but secretly he's not sorry he came to his friend's defense.
But the bullies are waiting for him after detention, and Alex runs
away to a roped-off, abandoned construction lot, where he finds....yes, a
sword in a stone.
We all know what happens next.
Alex pulls the sword out of the stone.
But even though he's read all about King Arthur and Excalibur, he
doesn't believe it, even when strange things start happening, like the
sword occasionally lighting up. But
when the dark, fiery horseman comes after him at night, now he knows
something's changed. That new
kid in school, who calls himself Merton (Angus Imrie), actually turns out
to be a young Merlin, who can transform himself into an owl, or,
occasionally, into his older “real” self, played by Patrick Stewart.
Merlin tries to convince Alex that he needs to take Excalibur and
go defeat the Queen of the Underworld, Arthur's evil half sister, Morgana
(Rebecca Ferguson), before the eclipse happens in four days, otherwise
she'll enslave all of Britain.
Well, that's a heavy task for a young boy who's still trying to
find his way around middle school. But Alex, it turns out, has all the
qualities necessary: he's
brave, he's clever, and he has a skill for turning enemies into friends,.
Still, he suffers from disappointments and frustrations along the
way. He launches a Quest for
his long-lost Dad, mistakenly thinking he could help.
He fails to tell his Mom what he's up to, which naturally worries
her, and so Alex breaks the chivalry code of honoring his loved ones. Of
course, in the end, he turns out to be both resourceful and remorseful,
which enables him to inspire others around him.
Yes, it might be too intense for small children, but really, the
jousting violence is without bloodshed, and only the evil skeleton-knights
get destroyed. Thankfully,
writer and Director Joe Cornish does not have the kid stars cursing, and
resists the temptation to insert “adult humor” into their dialogue.
He even spares us any cringeworthy moments of pubescent romance.
We like these kids because they seem both real and genuine.
And the old legend of King Arthur enjoys a modern re-telling, with
some fun CGI embellishment. Nicely