Over the years, the legend of King Arthur has been retold and reimagined more times than anyone can count with books, comics, TV shows, video games and, of course, movies. When it comes to King Arthur on film, we have seen adaptations by everyone from Disney to Monty Python to Guy Ritchie (the less we say about this one, the better).
Most recently, we have “The Kid Who Would Be King,” which replaces Arthur and the kingdom of Camelot with a 12-year-old school boy in modern day England. “Attack the Block” director Joe Cornish returns to the director’s chair to tell this story of a boy named Alex who finds the sword Excalibur and is able to pull it from the stone as King Arthur had done centuries prior. Now he must form a new round table with the help of Merlin, the wizard, in order to stop Morgana, the enchantress, from enslaving the world.
Has this type of story been told before? Without a doubt. You can clearly see inspiration drawn from various children’s adventure films of the early to mid 80s, with the inclusion of the everyman protagonist with a single mom and estranged father, the fat and nerdy best friend, the bully who later becomes an ally and enough cheese to fill the dairy section of a supermarket. Does this make the movie bad? Not per se. It has its flaws but it’s still a fun ride.
Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson give good performances as old Merlin and Morgana, but neither of them are in the movie very long, and they’re not given much to work with. Morgana should have been given more character depth rather than just being an evil witch. The one stand out performance in the cast is given by Angus Imrie as young Merlin. He knows exactly what type of movie he is in, and he takes advantage of every second he is on screen. His performance is just so bizarre and strange that you must enjoy every second he is on screen.
As in “Attack the Block,” the fight sequences that Joe Cornish brings to the table are incredible. It’s really impressive what he was able to pull this off with such a limited budget. Morgana’s undead soldiers have a really cool color pallet, and it just gives them an other-worldly feel.
The biggest problem with the movie is by far is its pacing. While the movie is only two hours long, the second act feels like it goes on forever and shows the same story elements multiple times. They probably could have cut out about 20 minutes from the movie.
Overall, while it seems a little longer than it needs to be, it’s still fun. The kids in the audience seemed to really enjoy the movie, and it does have a good message for them. Does it bring anything new to the kid adventure drama? Not really. But you can still have some fun with it if you’re looking for some escapism during Oscar season.