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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Kid Who Would Be King (Blu-ray)
The Kid Who Would Be King (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG // April 16, 2019 // Region Free
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted May 28, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE FILM:

The best adolescent adventure films succeed largely because they do not treat their youthful characters like kids or discount their emotions. Fans of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Goonies and Stand By Me will understand what I mean. These classics treat the emotions and conflicts of their young subjects with respect, and none needlessly panders to immature viewers. The Kid Who Would Be King similarly respects its characters, including lead Alexander "Alex" Elliott (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), who winds up amid a modern day retelling of the King Arthur legend. This Joe Cornish written and directed fantasy offers humor, action and virtues, all while maintaining a cheerful mood and forward-moving narrative. This film should appeal to both adults and children, and is a strong candidate for family movie night.

Unpopular at school but loyal to his best friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), Alex draws the ire of school bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris), who one evening chase Alex onto a construction site. There, he finds a sword and removes it from the ground. Back at home, Bedders and Alex discover the sword is the legendary Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, and Alex knights Bedders. Soon, an evil sorceress, Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson), begins awakening from an ancient slumber in hopes of reclaiming the sword and her power. Wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie, and Patrick Stewart in a funny extended cameo) arrives to protect Alex, and soon saves him from a demon sent by Morgana. Although her minions can only operate at night, an upcoming solar eclipse will allow Morgana to enter the mortal world and plunge it into darkness. Alex, Bedders and Merlin are accompanied by a reluctant Lance and Kaye as they form a new Round Table to combat evil.

The film playfully opens with an animated summation of the King Arthur legend, before dissolving out of the pages of a book, which turns out to be something given to Alex by his absentee father. The Kid Who Would Be King suggests Alex may be the "once and future king" destined to fill the late Arthur's throne and protect the world from Morgana. The film makes clear that society is suffering, and early on viewers are treated to newspaper headlines decrying gloom, doom and war. Cornish succeeds in sending his cast on an adventure with real stakes, and the film throws in human conflict, too, like selfish Lance's impure motives and Alex coming to terms with the person his dad really was.

The battles use a bit too much CGI, but Cornish's script offers plenty of chuckles and affecting drama, and I enjoyed the interplay between the young characters and Merlin, who also has the ability to change into an owl. Those looking for a completely new take on the King Arthur legend may find this material overly familiar, but The Kid Who Would Be King at least freshens the legend up with modern sensibilities and technology. Some of the world building here is actually more entertaining than the late-game, chaotic battles, but the film maintains good pacing over its two-hour running time. This is an entertaining family adventure that never feels like a children's movie and should appeal to audiences of all ages.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Fox provides a strong 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer for the film that offers good fine-object detail and texture, crystal clear wide shots and nice color saturation. This digitally shot production does have a few softer shots when effects are blended heavily to create environments, but most shots are crisp and clear. Black levels are good, with only minor noise in a few nighttime scenes, and contrast is appropriate throughout.

SOUND:

The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is robust and immersive. Dialogue is clear and clean throughout, and is balanced appropriately with the weighty score and effects. Environmental effects, like weather and crowd noise, make good use of the sound field, and action-oriented effects provide strong sound panning and LFE response. Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital dubs are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc release is packed in an eco-case that is wrapped in a slipcover that duplicates the rather unattractive, busy key artwork. The set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and an HD digital copy. Extras include Deleted Scenes (4:03/HD); Origins of a King (11:48/HD), a making-of piece; Young Knights (12:07/HD), about the cast; Knight School (10:03/HD), about the roles of each cast member; The Two Merlins (11:48/HD), with remarks from Imrie and Stewart; Meet Morgana (12:02/HD), about the villain; Movie Magic (10:33/HD), about the special effects; Hair, Makeup and Costume Tests (2:58/HD); and Promotional Materials (5:57 total/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

An entertaining reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, The Kid Who Would Be King benefits from an affable cast, strong sense of adventure and a lively narrative. Recommended for family movie night.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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