The ancient legend of the Sword in the Stone and King Arthur comes to life in a modern story set in London. Young Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) finds a sword sticking out of a concrete construction pylon at the site of a demolished building. When he removes the sword, strange things begin to happen. Morgana from the underworld (Rebecca Ferguson) seeks to steal the sword, take over the world, and enslave the people of England. Merlin the Magician (Angus Imrie/Patrick Stewart) shows up in Alex’s school disguised as an awkward student to tell Alex that, in fact, it is up to him to defeat Morgana and save the world.
Alex, along with his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), forms an unlikely team with two of his school’s bullies/popular kids, Kaye (Rhinna Dorris) and Lance (Tom Taylor), and embarks on a journey to find the entrance to the underworld. The bullies grow selfish and have trouble seeing Alex as their leader, which causes all kinds of problems along the way. In the end, it takes help from Alex’s entire school to defeat Morgana’s army of the undead, along with planning, hard work, and some of Merlin’s magic.
There’s a side story about Alex’s father, who “has his own demons,” his mother tells him. After Alex finds the sword, he digs out a copy of a book about King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table, which includes an inscription from his dad. Alex is convinced that even though his dad is not around, he knew the truth about Alex being the one true king, and that finding him will help the mission.
Many times in the movie, the script blatantly says what the children in the story will have to do. The characters often state their true emotions in certain situations. For younger children, this makes a fast-paced story easier to understand, and it’s easier to grasp the deeper meaning of the story. That said, teens and adults might feel a bit too much of the unfolding story is made obvious and that the dialogue is unrealistic. (Before the children embark on their journey, for example, you hear the voice of Morgana saying, “I will play on their weaknesses,” rather than letting that be revealed through the events of the story.)
For parents, know that the movie depicts bullying and teasing, but also someone standing up to bullies. At night, when the army of the undead visits the real world, a character made of bones and fire shows up in Alex’s bedroom while he is sleeping. There are frequent sword battles between the main characters and the army of the undead. Morgana transforms into a fire-breathing, dragon-like creature and gets her head chopped off.
There are no sexual references, and language consists only of one “what the hell.” The characters show perseverance, flexibility, and facing your fears when you don’t feel so brave or important. Kids who wouldn’t typically be friends work together, and overcome their differences for a greater cause.
The Kid Who Would Be King is rated PG, and opens in theaters January 25.