In his first film since 2011’s acclaimed Attack the Block, writer-director Joe Cornish tweaks an Arthurian legend to suit the modern setting of Brexit-era Britain.

Cornish’s updated take on the folktale is festooned with political allegory and sly nods to the anarchic source material.

Early in the film, we pass by a newsstand that reads - "War! Gloom! Fear! Crisis!". A few scenes later, the villainous scorcher Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) rises from beneath the earth to conquer the ‘leaderless’ and ‘divided’ land. 

As the ‘chosen one’ narrative rolls out, it’s up to 12-year-old Alex (Louis Serkis, the talented son of Andy Serkis) and his Excalibur Sword to save his hometown in its darkest hour. Cue inspirational lessons on self-discovery and the importance of camaraderie. 

Rebecca Ferguson plays the villainous Morgana

Cinematographer Bill Pope's (The Matrix, Army of Darkness) capacious imagination evokes a spirited charm reminiscent of Spielberg's '80s kids adventure flicks. 

The trippy story has unshakable magnetism thanks to its wonderfully expressive young cast, while the CGI-fest has the peril-packed action youngsters won’t be able to resist, especially in a school-based battle involving an army of flaming skeleton knights and ghost warriors.

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The sharp wit of reverse-aging Merlin the Wizard - played as a youth by Angus Imrie and as an adult by Patrick Stewart - deploys enough humour (and slick hand tricks) to forgive the clichéd sequences and drawn-out running time.

Patrick Stewart plays the bearded ancient magician, Merlin, in The Boy Who Would Be King

The Kid Who Would Be King is a timely release that will empower kids to make their own Round Table.

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Laura Delaney

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