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Review: “The Kid Who Would Be King” is a Good Starter Fantasy for Kids

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Joe Cornish firmly roots his young adult urban fantasy of The Kid Who Would Be King for a kid audience. He presents an adventure that places the kids in real danger but nothing some sword swinging and team building couldn’t best. He stages grand displays of wizards and demons but makes it palatable enough for a satisfying family matinee. But most importantly, it has a strongly positive message that may be delivered with blunt force but sometimes messages need not be so subtle for a film where the younger audience is sure to dig skirmishes of flaming skeletons and armored kids with big swords.

The whole film has the throwback nature of a 1980s fantasy in many ways. The story inhabits the rocky times of Brexit and a world constantly heated with hatred, akin to the nuclear fears of the 80s. The changing times are only hinted at with DANGER and WAR printed on the public papers of the newsstand the plucky boy Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) passes every day on his way to school. He may not be as up on politics but he knows things are not going good when bullies target his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) and the school won’t do a thing about it. Alex will have to defend himself but doesn’t have enough faith.

L-R: Rhianna Dorris, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Angus Imrie, Dean Chaumoo, and Tom Taylor star in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.

He’ll have to gain some confidence quick, however, when the evil sorceress Morgana le Fay (Rebecca Ferguson) rises from her underground hell to enslave the Earth. Thankfully, Alex stumbles upon the legendary sword in the stone at a construction site and is the one true king to remove it. How did the sword get there? A question that only adults would ask. I knew when I was a kid that if you were able to pull a magical sword out of a stone, you didn’t ask too many questions and you kinda believed the story.

And Alex will soon find himself believing the story of King Arthur when using the sword to fight off flaming skeletons that seek his head. The end of the world is coming soon if Alex doesn’t stop Morgana before a solar eclipse. He’s informed of this by the returning wizard Merlin, sometimes in the form of the gangly teen Angus Imrie, sometimes the elder Patrick Stewart, and sometimes an owl. But Alex will also need allies, deciding to recruit his pal Bedders and later the local big bullies of school (Tom Taylor, Rhianna Doris). And, later, his whole school when waging war against dark forces.

Patrick Stewart and Louis Ashbourne Serkis in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.

Despite the film coming off a bit heavy with its positive message about not fearing the future and placing trust in teamwork, it’s a film perfectly suited more for the kids than the adults. There are not much of any in-jokes for adults, making more relatable youth references of Mario Kart and Harry Potter. There’s plenty of magic present with Merlin conjuring everything from transportation portals to duplicating swords to using mind control on adults. I especially enjoyed the fun had by Angus Imrie when he requires a youth potion of unorthodox ingredients but readily available in scores of junk food. And there’s just something oddly charming and thrilling about a climax where students get the day off to fight the forces of evil.

While The Kid Who Would Be King never lept out at me as a fantastic fantasy, I have to admit its genuine pluck and the great message kept winning my smile. The kid actors all give admirable performances, the special effects are just keen enough to enjoy the spectacle (especially a storybook-animated prologue), and the sense of adventure is present throughout. There’s nothing incredibly new to Alex’s battle of swords versus skeletons nor with its positive signals about teaming up when the world seems to be on fire. But I thought about how certain kids would approach this film and be rather inspired by its vigor. Sure enough, while exiting the theater, I heard one kid mention he wants to see more like that. And any film that can get kids a little more enticed to check out The Dark Crystal or The Lord of the Rings is a good film in my book. Given the simple stakes and a medium amount of danger for Alex and his band of 21st-century young knights, this is the perfect type of family matinee, despite being little more than that.

L-R: Rhianna Dorris, Tom Taylor, Dean Chaumoo, and Louis Ashbourne Serkis star in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Photo Credit: Kerry Brown.


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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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