The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray Review
Sword in the Stone meets The Goonies
The Kid Who Would Be King Film Review
Joe "Attack the Block" Cornish's sophomore effort is a slightly lightweight romp which has sparks of magic but still feels too TV movie for its own good.Although he helped Edgar Wright (and Paul Rudd) on the script for Ant-Man, before it was passed over to Peyton Reed to direct, Cornish hasn't really done a great deal to cement his standing in the eight long years since he impressed audiences with his enthusiastic, low budget comedy horror, Attack the Block.
For his follow-up, he reworks the classic Arthurian legend of Excalibur, combining it with a sort-of coming-of-age kids' adventure which wouldn't have been out of place in the 80s, seeing an underdog schoolboy, who stands up for what is right, become convinced that he's a long-distant descendant of King Arthur, and promptly take on an evil witch bent on destroying the world.
Alex is just another schoolboy, but after he discovers a magic sword, and meets a teenage boy who can shape-shift and says that he is the magician Merlin, he becomes convinced that he's a scion of Arthur Pendragon. When Arthur's evil witch half-sister, Morgana, rises to reclaim the world, it falls upon the ill-equipped Alex and a motley crew of both friends and foes from his school to band together and stop the impending apocalypse.
Cornish reworks the classic Arthurian legend of Excalibur, combining it with a sort-of coming-of-age kids' adventure which wouldn't have been out of place in the 80s
Despite a $50 million price tag (the same figure as the reported losses after it bombed at the Box Office), The Kid Who Would Be King can't escape a certain TV movie feel to its Brit-set antics. In an age where kids get up to much darker stuff in It and Stranger Things, and where swords and sorcery have been served on an epic scale by Jackson's Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, fighting possessed trees on the moors just seems a little low-key.
Slaughterhouse Rulez went for a not altogether dissimilar scale and theme, but found more success in pitching it to teens rather than younger children and there's something sorely lacking in this distinctly PG romp (although that rating didn't stop both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Bumblebee from hitting all the right notes). Perhaps it's a genre where you now need to go big or go home (hell, even Ritchie's messy Legend of the Sword had a decent scale to it), but The Kid Who Would Be King certainly doesn't feel like it should have been pitched at the Big Screen, wasting very limited cameos on its big names - Patrick Stewart (Logan) and Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible - Fallout) - and struggling to invest anything dynamic in its main child cast.
Sure, the child incarnation of Merlin gets brief moments of fun and magic, but Andy Serkis' son, Louis, just doesn't ever earn his random ability to retrieve Excalibur (it's hardly the evolution of Thor or, more recently, Captain America in Endgame), which puts the story on the back foot from the outset. On paper, a Goonies / Excalibur combo sounds like a lot of fun, but Cornish needed to at least go darker and more stylised (the British setting is undoubtedly a low budget look if used so blandly) rather than green-screen a quartet of self-appointed child knights in costumes and expect the audience to be sold.
The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray PictureThe Kid Who Would Be King comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox who look to have delivered the exact same disc as the US received not long back, affording the modestly budgeted fantasy a largely excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
A largely excellent presentation
Detail remains impressive throughout, with strong clarity and little noticeable softness, bringing finer skin flourishes, clothing textures and background nuances to life with aplomb, and with no visible defects. The colour scheme does its best to promote the somewhat drab UK setting, with at least some lush green landscapes, even if the skies are frequently overcast. The clothing provides some nice added pop and black levels remaining deep, rich and solid during the darker sequences. The more effects-based shots are reasonably well-integrated (though there are some glaring green-screen shots that look cheap), and mostly spark life into the proceedings (the glowing eyes and fiery swords stand out and would have undoubtedly looked spectacular with HDR enhancement) rounding out a largely excellent presentation.
The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track also does a suitably impressive job with the material, remaining a demo and largely reference audio offering which is perhaps only let down by the knowledge that there is a 4K edition available in the US (and, indeed, originally planned for release in the UK) which sports Atmos. There was no reason given why the announced UK 4K disc was unceremoniously pulled from the roster, but, clearly, this is not a high enough
profilerelease for it. Despite the lack of Atmos, this is a stellar track, which should more than satisfy those who don't feel the desperate desire to import.
An excellent track
Dialogue remains keenly prioritised across the frontal array, rendered clearly and coherently throughout, whilst sound effects, which are at times more impressive than the visuals, bring the various beasties (right from the fiery skeleton) to life - often courtesy of Morgana's powers, as her echoey incantations permeate your room - and afford a welcome immersion during the key setpieces, whether in a bustling classroom or a would-be battlefield. The score suits the adventurous, feel-good and at-times even rousing romp, and rounds out an excellent track.
The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray ExtrasAfforded the same solid selection of extra features as the US release (as aforementioned, due to the fact that it is likely the exact same disc), the largely Featurette-driven roster covers the bases, even if it would have been nice to have a Commentary to round out the set.
The same solid selection of extra features as the US release
Some 6 Featurettes, all over 10 minutes long, look at the concept, the cast, the young and old Merlins, the villain, the action and the effects, providing a slew of behind the scenes clips and plenty of interview snippets from the cast and crew too. There are also a few minutes of hair, makeup and costume tests and a few minutes of Deleted Scenes, and the disc is rounded out with a selection of promo clips and a music video.
The Kid Who Would Be King Blu-ray VerdictOn paper, a Goonies / Excalibur combo sounds like a lot of fun, but Cornish needed to go darker and more stylised
Although the UK 4K release of The Kid Who Would Be King was somewhat unsurprisingly cancelled, this Blu-ray set - which matches up to the preceding US disc (they still got a 4K release, with Atmos too) - is a winner, sporting excellent video and audio and a solid selection of extra features. Fans who aren't inclined to import should consider it a strong release.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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