It has taken far too long to get a follow-up film from Joe Cornish after he burst onto the scene with the cult favorite Attack The Block from 2011. The results are a bit mixed but his new film, The Kid Who Would Be King, has heart in all the right places. It also manages to bring A Kid in King Arthur's Court to modern day audiences.
And that is where things get a little messy. While the Sword in the Stone elements works wonderfully, Cornish keeps driving home his central theme while commenting on post-Brexit England. The script often draws the more engaging story to a halt to dole out his theme of inclusivity and forgiveness. However, Cornish knows how to mount action scenes driven by characters and that shines here. So does his knack for working with young actors. The cast has real charm and charisma that makes it easy to overlook the clunkier parts.
Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) sticks up for others and is a ready-made hero when we meet him. He is also on 12-years-old. He and his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) are the regular targets for bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris). They are 16 and complete jerks. Alex often tries to turn the other cheek. He doesn't even rat them out in a key moment. Alex knows the world is a harsh place and full of unkind people. He strives to be just and true.
Cornish loves the character of Alex. Not him as a character but the qualities that make him a perfect heir to King Arthur. He wants Alex to inspire a young generation to be noble and there is something heartfelt about his earnestness here.
Alex finds a sword in a stone in a rundown construction site. He soon meets a teenage Merlyn (Angus Imrie) and learns that Morgana Le Fay, an evil sorceress, means to kill him and take the sword. This kicks off a fun if predictable adventure that sees Alex forming the knights of the round table and defending the world from Morgana.
The cast's MVP is Imrie who brings a welcomed loony quality while he delivers tons of exposition. The film has some clever sequences such as a training sequence with sentient trees. The film also oozes charm. This is due to Cornish's ability to direct kids and make them seem like kids. 12-year old me would have eaten this film up. The adult me found it pleasant and fun.