Hollywood, stop trying to make King Arthur happen. It's not going to happen.
In 2011, Joe Cornish made a really fun, underrated alien film starring John Boyega calling Attack the Block, making us think he was going to be the next big thing in Hollywood.
Eight years have now gone by and, finally, Cornish has been given a second project with The Kid Who Would Be King.
Turns out that even a genius like Cornish ultimately can’t make King Arthur work.
The Kid Who Would Be King is yet another take on the classic sword in the stone tale that we’ve seen Hollywood try to adapt countless times. Whether it’s Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, John Boorman’s Excalibur or, most recently, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, almost all of them have come and gone without causing much excitement from the general public (Monty Python and the Holy Grail is an obvious exception).
Now, Cornish is trying his hand at the legend, taking it out of the medieval ages and bringing it into modern day London.
That’s where young Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy Serkis) lives with his mother, Mary (Denise Gough), in a quaint but comfortable house.
Alex’s life is anything but quaint but comfortable, however. Apart from his buddy Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) always having his side, Alex has to deal with bullies — namely that of Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) — day in and day out while at school.
Home isn’t much better, either. While Mary is an honest parent who’s doing her very best to provide a living for the family, Alex constantly finds himself thinking about his father and what he might be up to. The two of them never really got to know each other, you see, as Alex’s father left before Alex can even remember, leaving a paternal-sized relationship hole in his heart.
A young lad (Angus Imrie) by day and an older gentleman (Patrick Stewart) by night or when his powers are failing, the ancient wizard has awoken from his slumber to prevent a dangerous evil that is afoot.
That dangerous evil is none other than Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who has also awoken and is now ready for her revenge after being defeated in battle by King Arthur so many years ago.
The only person who can prevent that, Merlin says, is young Alex Elliot. He’s a great descendant of King Arthur, which is then proved when he’s able to pull Excalibur out of its long resting place.
Alex doesn’t know the first thing about being a knight or fighting ancient demons, though. This whole magic stuff is all brand-new to him and, unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of time to learn as Morgana’s waiting for the solar eclipse — which is only four days away — to bring about the apocalypse.
Even if King Arthur has been done to death at this point, if you take that premise and attack a name like Joe Cornish to it, you should get a pretty fun movie.
A lot of the audience, it seems, feel that way about The Kid Who Would Be King too, as the film holds an 85% critic score and 76% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of the review.
Which kind of saddens me just a little bit, because I really wanted to like this movie. Like, really wanted to. Attack the Block is such a treasure, and seeing King Arthur actually work in a film adaptation is long so long overdue that it’s hard to process.
Too bad this movie is dull as all get out.
I’ll admit that the final fifteen or twenty minutes of The Kid Who Would Be King was a lot of fun and ultimately presented the movie that I had hoped it would be. If the whole 120-minute runtime (which is far, far too long for this kind of movie) had the same tone as the climax, I’d be singing a very different tune.
Getting to that climax, though, takes a long time, and the journey there isn’t one I find particularly noteworthy or remarkable.
In fact, I found it rather monotonous as The Kid Who Would Be King seems to be going through the King Arthur motions for the majority of the film. I get that you need things like the sword in the stone, the lady in the lake and the knights at the roundtable if you’re going to make a King Arthur movie, but this film is so focused on including all of that and finding ways to make it fit into modern day that it forgets to have any fun while it’s doing it.
Sure, a couple of the gimmicks might be clever early on and I’d chuckle every now and then, but watching that lifeless nostalgia (is there even anyone out there who actually has nostalgia for King Arthur?) trip go on and on really started to wear on me.
Part of that also could be because I didn’t care about the characters all that much, either.
Granted, I think there are some good performances within these characters — namely from Chaumoo, Dorris and Imrie — and appreciate the fact that they actually tried to give some them an arc, but those arcs were rather clichéd and predictable, to the point where I didn’t really find myself having much invested in anything they were doing on screen.
The same can be said for Rebecca Ferguson, who you could honestly be forgiven for forgetting that she was even in The Kid Who Would Be King as she’s maybe given a total of five lines of dialogue.
In the end, The Kid Who Would Be King just didn’t have the energy I had hoped it would. I was looking at this film to be the savior of January (that award is going to Glass, because it’s great and I don’t care what none of y’all say) and take its place next to Attack the Block, but this, really, just ends up being another Seventh Son or Season of the Witch.
Better luck next time, Cornish.
Watch the trailer for The Kid Who Would Be King Here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film!
'The Kid Who Would Be King' - January strikes again [REVIEW]5