"The Kid Who Would Be King" Review - (Non-Spoiler)

"The future is theirs."

Don't let the release date and terrible marketing fool you for a second: this is superior family entertainment. It reminded me greatly of Joe Johnston's work from the 1990s, and we all know that's a big plus. Perhaps this is the kind of film I'm prone to overrate, but at the same time, this genre is near and dear to my heart, and I'm very picky. The Kid Who Would Be King works not because it depends on appealing to a sense of nostalgia, but because it centers on the particulars of adolescence, maturity, and a kid's place in a world that's constantly changing.

The film is a rousing adventure, filled with some great set pieces, including living trees that fight the kids and a brilliant final battle set at a school. It affords each of its talented young cast members genuine characters, with real depth. They're afflicted by timidity, callowness, and even greediness at times. But that's in step with what the film is ultimately talking about -- a generation forced to figure out how to fix the mistakes of the one that came before them. While there are some subtle hints that director-writer Joe Cornish is lambasting Brexit, it's actually a great message for kids, as the film never looks down on its young protagonists, but instead shows them to be resourceful. "Inside every kid is a wise adult, and inside every adult is a foolish kid," Merlin helpfully tells the kids when he tasks them with changing the world. There is a way for the generations to connect. Adolescence doesn't have to mean immaturity, and adulthood doesn't have to mean selfishness.

There's a lot under the hood, to be sure, but since the film focuses so much on telling its simple-but-effective story through a childlike perspective, it's not hard to see how this is extremely appealing to kids. It's also a little daring and sometimes scary, which is much appreciated. Angus Imrie is great as Young Merlin, Louis Ashbourne Serkis (yes, the son of Andy Serkis) has a bright career ahead of him, and the film is complete with an incredible score by Electric Wave Bureau. One of the only downsides is that it does run a tad too long, and I would've loved more Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see Mark Bonnar make a small appearance. Definitely cheered out loud. Which reminds me... where the hell is the fourth season of Catastrophe? I'm going to give "The Kid Who Would Be King" an 8 out of 10.

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