Opening April 18, 2019
Directed by: Joe Cornish
Writing credits: Joe Cornish
Principal actors: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris
Writer-director Joe Cornish repackages the classic tale of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the mythical Excalibur sword for this modern family-friendly adaptation. Now in high school, Alex (Serkis) and Bedders (Chaumoo) soon realize their friendship may not be enough protection against older students. When Alex helps defend Bedders against the bullies, Lance (Taylor) and Kaye (Dorris) take it personally. Then in quick succession: the bullies and Alex tangle, Alex extracts Excalibur from stone, a friendly game morphs into a make-or-break deal, the new student (Angus Imrie) gets involved, and Merlin-cum-wizard (Patrick Stewart) leads the troupe to Cornwall in search of Alex’s father. Meanwhile, the sorry state of the world is waking wicked sorceress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). Unless the four teens unite, and adhere to the Chivalric Code rules, evil will prevail. The problem is: too many habits to change too fast, and a celestial eclipse’s timetable radically shortens.
The lead characters are worthy, but the scene-stealer is Angus Imrie as the great and indispensable younger Merlin-cum-owl. Production values are sound; the animated opening sequence showing the background legend is outstanding. Wenn du König Wärst packs a lot in its two long hours; some of it is overindulgent overkill, whereby any message(s) becomes confusing. The quest may have been decided, but to secure the film-kingdom, unsparing editing (Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss) was needed. While appealing to adolescents, for younger children this film’s length would be overwhelming. (Marinell H.)