Director: Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: Louis Abrahams Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Rebecca Ferguson
Genre: Action/ adventure
Schoolboy Alex (Serkis) thinks he is just another nobody, but one day when running to a building site while escaping a couple of school bullies he stumbles upon the mythical sword in the stone Excalibur, which he removes from the stone with ease. He then learns that the fate of the world is in his hands, and he must become a leader and unite both his friends and enemies to stop the wicked enchantress Morgana (Ferguson) from turning the world into darkness.
In this day and age, the right marketing strategy can determine whether a film reaches the right audience and achieves financial and critical success, and if people are not quite sure what a film is trying to be, they just won’t see it. Despite its reasonable budget, The Kid who Would be King made very little money in America, perhaps because people were not sure what Joe Cornish’s film wanted to be. There is no escaping the fact that it is a very undeniably British film that combines some very topical themes with what can only be described as (in my view) a good, old-fashioned honest action adventure. How the film deals with these themes is of course open to interpretation, and that interpretation may well be influenced by the individual’s pollical views, as one utterly shameful review in The Guardian described at as some kind of anti-brexit film. Well, it can also just be taken on face value as a film that contains a positive, optimistic message, and is also just a fun adventure film for both kids and anyone who was a kind (so, basically everyone). The fact that film’s antagonist (played in proper pantomime style by Rebecca Ferguson) is taking advantage of the fact that our world is currently divided and leaderless can be interpreted in many ways, but for the film then deals with this in a optimistic way.
There is no denying that this film is made from the point of view of its young characters, but also within its narrative it portrays optimistic messages of very universal themes, such as befriending those that you may initially regard as your enemies and treating them with respect, and expecting the same back from them. The film contains an overwhelming sense of positivity and optimism that it seems to place within its young characters, but also at the same time feels like it is very much told from their point of view. I challenge anyone to not embrace their inner child or go back to when they were a kid and not want to be one of the film’s characters and go on the adventures that they do! This is where for me Joe Cornish judges the film just right in terms of its tone; there is a certain air of naivety and innocence to it overall, but yet there is also some brutal reality in some of the personal discoveries that the individual characters make, as per the experiences of so many of us that come from dysfunctional families. Our two main characters are outcasts that are bullied and do feel alone as they struggle to find a purpose and meaning to their life – apart from the very few of us that were the popular kid (and I certainly doubt they write or indeed read film review blogs), we can all empathise with the protagonist’s situation. The performances from the young cast are also all great, producing characters we can engage with and believe in.
As the narrative progresses, The Kid Who would be King successfully explores many themes that we can all relate to, both as adults or children, and those of us willing to embrace our inner child cannot help but be engaged by its good, old fashioned sense of adventure. There are of course some slight convenient contrivances and plot holes within the narrative that cannot help but glaringly feel at odds with the film’s innocent tone. My personal view is that those who think the film has some kind of political agenda are just being influenced by their own personal cynicism and political agenda, but for me that completely misses the point of this film and the way it unashamedly embraces the innocence and naivety of childhood. For me, overall The Kid Who Would be King is a rip-roaring old-fashioned adventurous yarn that can be enjoyed and appreciated by viewers of all ages.
A film that truly captures what it is like to be a child and to wish for greater things; while the more cynical may try to attach their own political agenda to The Kid Who Would be King, for me it is a film that does not have one, and instead perfectly captures the innocence, naivety and unlimited sense of adventure that we all had as children.