Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

'The Kid Who Would Be King' Brings the King Arthur Tale to Modern Times, With Mixed Results 

click to enlarge kid.jpg

Written and directed by Joe Cornish, (who introduced the world to John Boyega with Attack the Block in 2011), The Kid Who Would Be King retells the Arthurian legend in contemporary England. The two-hour family film opens Friday in wide release.

A 12-year-old boy, Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis, youngest son of motion-capture legend Andy Serkis) discovers that he is King Arthur's true heir and must save a lost and leaderless world from the predations of Arthur's half-sister Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), who's been interred deep beneath the earth's surface for centuries, but now senses that the time is right for her to attack.

Alongside his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and two school bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris), Alex must survive several consecutive nights of attack from Morgana's minions, a flaming calvary who prove no match for the dexterity and swordsmanship of elementary schoolers. The children are guided in their quest by Merlin (a spotty Patrick Stewart), who generally assumes a teenage form (Angus Imrie) to monitor and hang with the kids. One senses that Imrie, a giraffe-like comedic presence who recalls Ferris Bueller's Alan Ruck, may be on the cusp of wider stardom. Director Joe Cornish seems to have a knack for spotting emerging talent. And Imrie, with his goofy face and impossible body, is a delight on screen. Scenes come alive when he shows up.

The story itself is a tad long and meandering, and occasionally reliant (in scripted dialogue and visual stylings) on the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Some will recognize that the dramatic personal revelation near the film's end is a carbon copy of one that appeared in 1993's Rookie of the Year. The climax, in which a student body goes toe to toe with Morgana and her army of bad guys, is full of fun, creative PG action that's endlessly more original and entertaining than the over-the-top CGI clashes that have degraded the superhero film genre.

Though the script tends toward moralizing and over-explanation, there are a handful of quite moving scenes. Among Cornish's gifts is working well with young actors, and it should come as no surprise that he has coaxed some punchy, memorable performances from his leads.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Season's Bleedings @ Capitol Theatre

    • Sat., Dec. 4
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation