The Kid Who Would Be King will thrill the family this half-term with break-out star Angus Imrie stealing the show

The Kid Who Would Be King is Joe Cornish’s second film as a director, and is a brave choice for him given the trail of Arthurian movie failures in the past.

However, the skills that served him well in his directorial debut — 2011’s hugely successful Attack The Block — just about save him here, but only just. He has wisely stuck to what he knows, taking boring urban British life and injecting it with fantasy and humour.

This film could quite easily have turned into a two-hour episode of Doctor Who were it not for a few key facts.

Firstly, it fills a void of a dearth of live-action films not set in Marvel or DC land.

Secondly, it is unashamedly aimed at kids — something that is all too rare these days.

There are no knowing gags for the mums and dads here. Adults enjoy it for the same reasons our children do — it’s likeable and fun. And an appearance by Patrick Stewart, as Adult Merlin, helps.

Aiming its sword directly at a Britain in turmoil, The Kid Who Would Be King opens with news headlines telling us of WAR! and GLOOM! as we meet our main characters. There’s Alex, a boy as normal as you’ll get — played believably by Louis Ashbourne “Son-of-Andy” Serkis — and his pal Bedders, a brilliant debut from Dean Chaumoo).

The pair are bullied relentlessly by Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) when they discover a sword in a building site.

It’s at this point I hand the review over to two experts in children’s adventures. My own kids.

Buzz (aged 10-and-a-half): “I liked that it was set in the modern day with phones and stuff and not in the 14th Century.

“Alex kept getting bullied and thought the sword was just a prank by YouTubers. The guy called Merlin was really funny and I loved the hand movements he does to make all his spells and when he eats his chicken.”

Jasper (just about 14): “It reminded me of The Goonies when a group of young kids go out to find something and treasure changes their lives. It’s a bit like the first Harry Potter because Alex is new to magic too.

“The woman from The Greatest Showman (Rebecca Ferguson) is the baddie. She doesn’t appear much in the film but was right for the job (Dad — Tough critics).

“The ending was good. I just thought there could have been more of the villain.”

This will please the family just enough and offers the right balance of reality to make it believable

So there you go — a pretty good seal of approval from very much the target audience.

For what it’s worth I agree with them. It’s a film brimming with ambition and sentiment, with a couple of standout performances.

The most notable being the inclusion of Angus Imrie — son of actress Celia — as Young Merlin.

He is the breakout star and the film lights up and gets a proper jog on every time he appears.

The malevolent aspects of the film are its weakest. The film suffers from a baddie who doesn’t feel particularly threatening and relies far too much on a formulaic CGI climax, which is a shame.

While it feels very much a middle act in Joe Cornish’s ascending journey, this will please the family just enough and offers the right balance of reality to make it believable.

Also out this week

INSTANT FAMILY (12A) – 118mins: Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play first-time foster parents who take in three siblings – with hilarious* and touching results.

*Hilarity not guaranteed

A PRIVATE WAR (15) – 110mins: Matthew Heineman directs Rosamund Pike in this incredibly powerful biographical war drama about Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin. An important reminder of the value and sacrifices made by frontline journalism. Highly recommended.

The Kid Who Would Be King 120 mins (PG)



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