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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "The Kid Who Would Be King" appealing, but not perfect

Jan 25, 2019 12:30AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Angus Imrie, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, and Dean Chaumoo in The Kid Who Would Be King - © 2019 20th Century Fox.

The Kid Who Would Be King (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language.

Starring Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Doris, Denise Gough.

Written and Directed by Joe Cornish.



The cool thing about legends is that they are easily adaptable to whatever interpretation you prefer. Even though most legends have some basis of fact, they are organic story threads that can lead down any path. One such legend is the story of King Arthur, his Round Table, chivalric knights, his quest for the Holy Grail, and powerful sword Excalibur. The latest iteration of the Arthurian legend comes in the form of The Kid Who Would Be King, a sequel to the popular versions of the story, set in contemporary England.

Louis Ashbourne Serkis (son of Andy) stars as Alex Elliot, a teenaged boy who is known to stand up to bullies in defense of his pal Bedders (Dean Chaumoo). The primary bullies are Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Doris). While running away from Lance and Kaye one evening, Alex chances upon a dig site where he discovers a sword stuck in concrete. He retrieves the weapon, only to discover that dark forces are soon out to get him. A strange boy named “Merton” (Angus Imrie) suddenly appears at the school and immediately approaches Alex, explaining that the sword is Excalibur and that he’s been chosen to lead a new group of knights to battle against the evil Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who has awakened from her centuries-old underworld prison, intending to spread darkness over the world. Merton is really a younger version of Merlin, who disguises his true older self (played by Patrick Stewart). Alex recruits and “knights” Bedders, Lance and Kaye to join him in a quest to travel to an underworld entrance and kill Morgana before she can retain all her powers. They eventually return to the school, where they recruit more knights among their classmates and prepare for a final battle, with a little magical help from Merlin.

The Kid Who Would Be King is a surprisingly fun movie with a lot of appeal for kids and adults. Newcomer Louis Serkis carries the heavy load as the lead character with plenty of charm and screen presence and is complemented by a quirky, yet appealing ensemble. Patrick Stewart and Angus Imrie (son of British actors Benjamin Whitrow and Celia Imrie) also make a formidable pair of Merlins.

Despite the charms of the cast and unique reimagining of the Arthurian legend, The Kid Who Would Be King isn’t without flaws, not the least of which is the all-too-convenient names of contemporary characters being an exact match to the popular legend. There are a few clichés at play, too – but not enough to detract from the overall appeal of the story.

So, go ahead and take the kids to see The Kid Who Would Be King. It’s the chivalrous thing to do.   

The Kid Who Would Be King Trailer