Film Review: ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’

Variety | 1/25/2019 | Peter Debruge
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A likable enough, Amblin-esque update to the classic Arthurian legend, “The Kid Who Would Be King” is hardly the first time a group of adolescents have saved England from supernatural harm in a Joe Cornish movie. That said, much of the attitude and originality that drew fans to the irreverent writer-director’s inner-city alien-invasion debut “Attack the Block” — wherein underdog heroes faced off against fluorescent-fanged beasties from outer space — has gone missing from his eight-years-later second feature, which skews considerably younger and safer than that 2011 cult favorite.

Maybe that’s because the kid in question is bland 12-year-old Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis). Polite, white, and thoroughly unexceptional, Alex comes across as an average student in most respects, proving that chivalry is not dead by intervening when best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) is hassled by classmates Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) and Lance (Tom Taylor), two bullies who would no doubt have been sorted into Slytherin if they’d been sent to a more magical boarding school. Oozing menace, Lance reminds the runty do-gooder that he’s the king of Dungate Academy — as if that were a thing thugs say in this day and age.

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Next time these two schoolyard villains spot Alex, they chase him into a fenced-off construction site, where the boy slips off a ledge and finds a well-worn sword wedged deep in a block of concrete. Pulling it free without trouble, Alex doesn’t realize that he’s the first person in centuries to have touched Excalibur, which was last brandished by the long-dead Arthur and is now coveted by Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), an evil, seemingly immortal enchantress who looks like a cross between Walt Disney’s Maleficent — in full-fledged dragon form — and some sort of sexy mandrake, buried deep but armed with tendril-like roots she uses to spy on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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