April 22, 2019  (Web Review)

The Kid Who Would Be King

Fox, 120 min., PG, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Apr. 16

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

According to sword ‘n’ sorcery folklore, King Arthur will return to save humanity. But the idea that the legendary King could appear in Brexit-era London comes as a shock to 12-year-old Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis). Mild-mannered Alex and his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) are constantly bullied at their middle-class suburban school by Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). Fleeing from tormentors, Alex sneaks into an abandoned construction site where he discovers a sword stuck in broken concrete. Extracting it, he reads the Latin inscription, which indicates it might be the fabled Excalibur. Although he treasures a King Arthur book from his estranged dad, Alex doesn’t take it seriously until fiery demons torment him that night. And then a bizarre transfer student befriends him: the wizard Merlin, who switches between teenage (Angus Imrie) and elderly (Patrick Stewart in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt) forms, and relates a centuries-old curse. During the upcoming solar eclipse, Arthur’s evil half-sister, enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), will try to claim Excalibur. So it’s up to Alex to recruit an army, leaving his mother a cryptic note: “GONE ON QUEST TO SAVE BRITAIN DON’T WORRY.” Enrolling his enemies as Knights of the Round Table and being mentored in the chivalric code by Merlin, Alex embarks on a mission that takes him through Stonehenge and beyond, pursued by flaming skeletons on horseback. British writer-director Joe Cornish has fashioned a witty, imaginative, updated Arthurian allegory in this winning family fantasy/adventure. Recommended. (S. Granger)