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Kid Who Would be King, The


Stars: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Angus Imrie, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Ferguson, Denise Gough

Director: Joe Cornish

I admit it.

Before the screening began, I was thoroughly disheartened at the prospect of having to sit through a biopic of heir to the throne Prince Charles.

Thankfully, I was proved wrong.

Instead I thoroughly enjoyed myself watching the fast, funny and thrilling magical adventures of apparently unremarkable 12 year-old London schoolboy Alex - perfectly played by Serkis - who achieves unexpected heroic status after he draws the magical sword Excalibur from its rockbound setting.

Result? Joined by school-friends and enemies, he becomes the leader of a brave band of youngsters who, with a little help from Stewart's memorably entertaining magician Merlin (with Imrie adding to the fun as Merlin's contemporary teenage alter ego), set out to save modern Mankind from the evil enchantress Morgana and her sinister supernatural warriors.The clash between the modem world and ancient magic serves up splendid movie-magic-driven action and adventure guaranteed to entertain the young audience at which the film is accurately aimed and - better still for accompanying adults - turning out to thoroughly enjoyable for accompanying adults as well.

State-of-the-art special effects bring everything from running, sword-fighting trees and killer corpses on horseback to convincing life and add to the excitement but, to writer and director Cornish's considerable credit, he never allows mere movie magic to diminish the considerable appeal and impact of his human actors.

Cornish, who demonstrated skilful and convincing empathy with young characters in his first-rate 2011 science fiction thriller Attack the Block, which saw South London youngsters fighting off alien invaders, hits all the right marks here. His characters and contemporary settings are credible and involving while ensuring the humans' amazing fantastic adventures are equally convincing in context.

Serkis (son of Andy) is perfectly cast, as is Stewart who, clearly enjoying himself on his well-earned break from boldly travelling through space and time on the small screen, is terrific fun as he entertainingly goes over the top to the perfect height of fun-making.

So too, does The Kid Who Would Be King, which is thoroughly pleasurable from start to finish and, happily, contains no forced and embarrassingly unfunny 'comic relief' of the ill-fated kind as was provided by David Beckham in Guy Ritchie's unfortunate King Arthur.

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Feb 2019