Joe Cornish Brings King Arthur to the Block in ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’

Allow it.
The Kid Who Would Be King
20th Century Fox
By  · Published on October 17th, 2018

Well, it’s not Attack the Block 2. After too many years toiling behind the scenes on films like The Adventures of Tintin and Ant-Man, director Joe Cornish is back to deliver a rollicking children’s wish-fulfillment adventure. The Kid Who Would Be King is another stab at transferring Arthurian lore to the playground, but minus the fancy Mark Twain novel to fall back on.

The kids in this trailer do not appear to have the vulgar maturity of the hoodlums in Cornish’s first film, but what they lack in potty-mouth vocabulary they make up for in roundtables, Ren Faire battle armor, and “Did I Do That?” grimaces. It’s hard to say based on the two minutes and thirty-five seconds seen below, but it does not appear that The Kid Who Would Be King has much on its mind beyond the fantasies of similar films like The Last Starfighter, The Goonies, and Super 8.

I find it very difficult to get excited about anything King Arthur related. If I wasn’t already nauseous from the endless streams of T.H. White knockoffs, John Boorman’s psychedelic Excalibur, Sean Connery’s snoozefest First Knight, and Antoine Fuqua’s ghastly gritty King Arthur then Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight and Guy Ritchie’s Legend of the Sword unleashed a violent attack of the plague.

I’m done. No more. And you can keep your Robin Hoods, Peter Pans, and Tarzans as well. They are all recognizable names from the classroom, but Hollywood has beaten them to death. Spare us for at least another 50 years.

Then again, the original trailer for Attack the Block didn’t do much for me either. A group of teenage thugs confronts a herd of space critters in their apartment complex. Basic pulp action? Not at all. What was impossible to contain in the teaser was the chemistry of those kids and the natural charisma of breakout star John Boyega. Joe Cornish took low-fi sci-fi and elevated it into an essential watch for genre fans in desperate need of grounded character work.

The Kid Who Would Be King has a look of fluff to it, but we should have faith in the man bringing the production together. Cornish has proven himself a firm director of children, never talking down to their level, and sparing us from cloying two-dimensional performances. If he’s excited by their mixture into Arthurian myths, then I’ll muster up some enthusiasm as well.

We barely catch a glimpse of them in the trailer, but it’s worth noting that both Patrick Stewart and Rebecca Ferguson are involved. Stewart plays the grumpy, old version of Angus Imrie’s Merlin. Ferguson is the wicked witch Morgana who takes on various harpy forms and commands that legion of undead zombie knights. They are a pair of actors I’ll happily watch chew scenery.

At worst, The Kid Who Would Be King falls into that long line of Arthurian adaptations. It may not be the best of the bunch, but it certainly won’t be Transformers: The Last Knight. What possible hell could claim that crown? The most important thing regarding this trailer is the return of Cornish. Hopefully, there won’t be another seven-year gap between pictures, and this film will kickstart a campaign to get Attack the Block 2 into gear.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)