The legend of King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone is one of my favourite fairytale stories. As a child, I used to have an illustrated Disney book that I would read over and over. I was also a huge fan of the television series, Merlin. So when I heard that the story was being re-imagined, I leaped at opportunity to see it!
The Kid Who Would Be King is set in present day United Kingdom where we’re introduced to Alex, played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of actor, Andy Serkis). Alex is a young boy in high school who finds himself fighting off bullies on a daily basis. When he runs to the aid of his close friend Bedders, played by Dean Chaumoo, in a selfless and noble act of bravery, Alex stands up to bullies Lance and Kaye (Tom Taylor and Rhianna Dorris) requesting that they stop, however this does not end well. After school Alex is forced to run away from the bullies as they threaten to beat him up. Alex discovers a construction site and proceeds to hide but is found quickly by Lance and Kaye as proceed to rough him up. When Alex falls of a ledge and the bullies fearing the worst run away, after Alex comes to, he sees a sword protruding from a broken concrete column. Naturally it peaked his curiosity and Alex withdraws it with ease from the stone. Excited with his new discovery he invites Bedders over to discuss what it might be. Alex references a book he used to read as a child, and quickly realises that it is no ordinary sword that he has drawn and it is in fact Excalibur, the legendary Sword of King Arthur Pendragon.
Upon the swords re-emergence into the world, the underworld is also awakening. Morgana, played by Rebecca Ferguson, is gaining strength and aims to rise up to claim the throne as the supposed rightful heir to Uther Pendragon, the original owner of the sword. It is not long before Alex finds himself up against the evils of the underworld whilst absolutely terrified and fearing for the safety of his mother, despite all this, he successfully defeats his foe. As the darkness rises, light also emerges in the form of a teenage boy who happens to be Merlin, played by Angus Imrie, appears at Alex’s school in a bid to protect him against the evil that lies ahead.
Sitting around a rectangular kitchen table, Alex and Bedders find themselves trying to form an alliance with Lance and Kaye. Trying to convince them that the legend of King Arthur is real and that Arthur once joined with foes at a round table, so that all were equal. With a quick adjustment of the table, the sides lift up to a round table. Although still sceptical, Lance and Kaye agree and prepare to embark on the quest to defeat Morgana and save the world.
The film is very clever in how it brings a modern take of the story of King Arthur to a younger audience. The way Merlin casts spells with clicking and clapping was a hit with the kids in the cinema. After the film they were all trying to recreate the hand movements. With a sneeze Merlin turns into an owl and then again turns into his older self as a centuries old wizard, played by Sir Patrick Stewart. The chemistry between Louis Ashbourne Serkis and Dean Chaumoo was great. Even though Dean Chaumoo’s character Bedders was of colour, his place in the film and the relationship between him and the main character Alex does not seem forced. The use of modern technology in conjunction with old folk lore was also very clever. The demonic characters looked quite convincing and although I had felt maybe at times that the film was a bit dark and too scary for the kids, the children in the audience were fine. I also thoroughly enjoyed the quick editing and special effects of Merlin changing from young, to old, to an owl. Everytime Merlin was on-screen, I could not help but smile. The character was portrayed as witty, batty and fun, but never overly cheesy, and neither was the film.
Overall, I found The Kid Who Would Be King to be very enjoyable. While it does not differ much from the original storyline of King Arthur, it still felt refreshing with its diverse cast and modern take on the classic. I highly recommend a viewing of this film if you love a good fantasy tale. This flick is a great choice for a fun family day out at the movies.
The Kid Who Would Be King is in cinemas now.