Aaron Peck column mug

AARON PECK

film critic

“The Kid Who Would Be King” is one of those kids movies you, as a parent, might sigh at before taking your kids to see. From the previews, it appears to be like dozens of other kid-friendly live-action movies.

Don’t judge a movie by its previews. This is a delightful movie. So many great family films come out of the United Kingdom at the moment. This is right up there with the “Paddington” franchise in whimsy and childlike wonder.

It’s been eight years since Director Joe Cornish’s first feature film, “Attack the Block,” which was an adventure with kids, but definitely not made for kids. Cornish takes the action and adventure of his first film and creates an exciting movie the whole family can enjoy.

The world is a rotten place on the precipice of collapse. Not because of natural disasters or calamities, but because of the overall apathy of mankind. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) and his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) aren’t made to thrive in this world of cutthroat bullies. Instead, they’re survivors. Sometimes that means standing up to the oppression of schoolyard tyrants and other times it means pretending to be invisible. The last thing a kid like Alex wants is attention, but that’s just what he gets when he ends up pulling Excalibur (yes, that one) from a cement block on a construction site.

Why is the sword there? Why hasn’t anyone noticed it until now? These are questions that don’t really matter, because the movie really isn’t interested in answering logical questions and that’s just fine. It’s a modern-day fantasy and with the way it’s constructed it’s easy to just go with it.

There’s a lot of legend explaining and Arthurian history exposition, which is done in such a gentle, unassuming way that is quite interesting. Suffice it to say, Alex is apparently the true heir to Arthur’s throne and must defeat Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) before she rises once again to take over the world.

Morgana’s rise is brought about by the overall state of the world. At one point Merlin (Angus Imrie) supposes that “A land is only as great as its leaders.” There are so many parallels to draw, but I’ll let you draw them. Alex and Bedders exist as citizens of an unfair world just trying to get by. Now, how do these ordinary people act when faced with extraordinary expectations? Can they change the world? Can they even change themselves? Perhaps the latter one is harder, anyway.

They form a haphazard group of knights as they befriend the school’s two worst bullies. The four of them are flung together into a situation where they’re forced to compromise, react, adapt, and accept their new roles.

“The Kid Who Would Be King” is part “Lord of the Rings” and part “Stranger Things.” A wild unassuming movie with big aspirations.

What stood out was the endearing clumsy determination Alex and his team of child-knights possessed. Do they make mistakes? Many. Do they learn from them? Yes. Can we, both old and young, learn something from them also? Most certainly.

Aaron Peck is a movie critic based in West Jordan. He attended USU for his undergrad and graduate degrees. Even though he’s moved out of Cache Valley he still considers himself a resident and a lifelong Aggie. You can follow him on Twitter: @AaronPeck

Aaron Peck is a movie critic based in Cache Valley. You can follow him on Twitter: @AaronPeck