Immediately upon seeing the trailer for Joe Cornish’s The Kid Who Would Be King before Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, my 10-year-old turned to me and said, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to see it. And I don’t blame him: The Kid Who Would Be King looked like a lot of fun, but it looked precisely like the sort of movie that I would’ve loved to see when I was his age.
So I hoped that Joe Cornish’s latest film — his first since 2011’s excellent Attack the Block — would be great, not for my sake, but for my children’s. I want my kids to have movies that they fall in love with and then look back on with fondness when they’re adults. Thankfully, if early reviews are any indication, then it looks like both my kids and I will find much to enjoy about The Kid Who Would Be King.
Germain Lussier, “The Kid Who Would Be King Is a Solid, Feel-Good Adventure Film”:
In addition to the action and comedy, The Kid Who Would Be King also really has a lot of strong, thematic lines going through it. It’s a film about friendship, loyalty, and trust. About the way the world has changed, and how now, more than ever, we need the next generation to step up and be the heroes we know they can be. Those sentiments add important layers to the film that give it a nice aftertaste. Even if the whole thing isn’t a total slam dunk, you know it’ll age well.
I believe in the transformative power of stories. If you know my writing, this is a big “no duh” statement, since a lack of that belief would probably preclude my having gotten into this film criticism business in the first place. I love myths and legends and narratives of human perseverance because those are the stories that demonstrate the values and strengths of a culture, the best parts of ourselves that serve as examples to live and grow by. And it’s something of a relief and reaffirmation that Joe Cornish, the writer-director perhaps best known for the superb Attack the Block, is on the same wavelength, as that is the underlying ethos that drives his latest, The Kid Who Would Be King. Taking aim at a younger audience, Cornish has built a loving testament to the power of legends to build a better future, with a surprisingly mature understanding of how that message has a place now more than ever.
Kevin Jagernauth, “The Kid Who Would Be King Is An Inspiring, Instant Classic”:
It’s quite something to sit down for a press screening of a film that so resolutely announces that the time is over for the very middle-aged cynics taking notes. “A land is only as good as its leaders,” Alex and his alliance learn, with their journey leading them to finally believe that perhaps they can actually make a difference, and have the strength for the battles that lay ahead in their lives. “The Kid Who Would Be King” is a movie earnestly invested in the next generation, with Cornish and Pope’s camera making no mistake to capture the diversity of faces that will populate the future and strive to make the world a better place. An instant classic, “The Kid Who Would Be King” blows the dust off an old tale, and makes it invigorating and inspiring for viewers who will be forming their own round tables of world-changers for generations to come.
Joe Cornish’s long-awaited and largely delightful follow-up to “Attack the Block” is a unicorn of a children’s fantasy movie: It’s imaginative, it’s heartfelt, and it never feels like it’s trying to sell you anything more than a measure of hope for the future. Cornish may bite off a bit more than he can chew by trying to reinvent Arthurian legend as an epic, ultra-contemporary adventure for the kids of Brexit-era Britain, but the guy hasn’t been able to direct anything in more than eight years, so it’s hard to fault him for an excess of pent-up ambition (especially not when the least effective parts of his movie involve a crazed Patrick Stewart running around in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt).
Contrary to the above critics, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky is a bit more lukewarm on the film, which he only gives a C+:
[Cornish] thumbs his nose at some of the tropes of modern-day pop myth (Harry Potter is a specific target), all while offering his own hodgepodge of swords-and-sorcery clichés and less-than-special effects. It’s a problem often faced by children’s entertainment, which has to address both its escapist fantasies and the realities and anxieties of its young audience. (Spielberg’s mastery of — and pointed subversion of — this formula remains the most imitated model.) Though it has a healthy sense of humor, The Kid Who Would Be King never nails the fantasy part (even its Excalibur looks cheap), and ends up with nothing to hang its more grownup ideas on.
More reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes, where it currently has an 87%. The Kid Who Would Be King arrives in American theatres on January 25.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.