Bullied Schoolboy Morphs into King Arthur in Modern Epic Fantasy
British schoolboy Alex Elliot (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is the unlikeliest of heroes. After all, the pint-sized 12-year-old and his nerdy BFF, Bedders (Dean Chaumoo), are bullied on a daily basis at Dungate Academy.
Unfortunately, Alex doesn’t have a father or a big brother to teach him how to deal with his tormentors. His dad disappeared ages ago, leaving behind a copy of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table inscribed with a dedication comparing his son to the classic novel’s legendary title character.
Sure enough, life starts imitating art the day Alex summons up the courage to intervene when he catches a couple of cruel classmates, Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) and Lance (Tom Taylor), torturing Bedders. Later that afternoon, Alex yanks out a sword he finds stuck in a boulder on a construction site, a feat reminiscent of how Arthur extracted Excalibur from a stone in accordance with ancient folklore.
Next, a new transfer student, Merlin (Angus Imrie), encourages Alex to embrace his destiny as a latter-day King Arthur. Once convinced, Alex uses his sword to knight not only his buddy Bedders, but their adversaries Kaye and Lance (aka Sir Lancelot).
With time of the essence, the four join forces with Merlin (aka Merlin the Magician), to defeat Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) an evil, medieval sorceress bent on world domination. She comes equipped with a scary army of flaming skeletons which the youngsters only have a few days to subdue to prevent a cataclysmic solar eclipse.
Written and directed by Joe Cornish (Attack the Block), The Kid Who Would be King is an entertaining re-imagining of a classic epic adventure. Yes, it’s rated a tyke-friendly PG, yet it’s also well enough crafted to enthrall young and old alike from beginning to end.
A wholesome family treat with an inspirational message!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for action, violence, scary images, mature themes, and mild epithets.
Running time: 120 minutes
Production Companies: 20th Century Fox / Working Title Films / Big Talk Productions
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Gina Rodriguez Plays Kidnap Victim in Tijuana Action Thriller
Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) is a Hollywood makeup artist sorely in need of a break from her abusive boss. The straw that broke the camel’s back came the day he condescendingly responded to her resourcefulness with the insulting, “Honey, we’re not paying you to think.”
So, on her way out the door, Gloria stole a couple of bags of cosmetics for her lifelong friend, Suzu (Cristina Rodlo), who is about to enter the Miss Baja beauty contest. Suzu still lives south of the border in their hometown of Tijuana with her little brother, Chava (Sebastian Cano).
Not long after arriving, the BFFs head out to a disco to attend a party sponsored by the pageant. But the two are soon separated when a gunfight breaks out between the police and La Estrella, a drug cartel led by the bloodthirsty Lino Esperanza (Ismael Cruz Cordova).
Gloria ends up in the maniacal mobster’s clutches and is unwittingly duped into blowing up a DEA safe house with three agents inside. She’s subsequently apprehended by Agent Brian Reich (Matt Lauria) who doesn’t believe a word of her improbable alibi.
He forces Gloria to prove her innocence by infiltrating Lino’s gang in order to help the U.S. government bring down the vicious crime syndicate. Of course, that’s easier said than done since she’s a beautician unschooled in undercover detective work.
That’s the captivating premise established at the outset of Miss Bala, a frenetically-paced remake of the 2011 Mexican action thriller of the same name. The film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke whose adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novel Twilight netted around $400 million at the box office.
Here, Hardwicke has crafted a compelling cross of Taken (2008) and Miss Congeniality (2000). The movie’s relentless sense of urgency is reminiscent of the former, while the protagonist’s grudging participation in a beauty pageant is similar to Sandra Bullock’s fish-out-of-water performance in the latter.
A two-fisted tale of female empowerment featuring a riveting roller coaster ride you’ll never forget!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexuality, drug use, and mature themes.
In English and Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 104 minutes
Production Companies: Sony Pictures Entertainment / Canana Films / Misher Films
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening February 8, 2019
Cold Pursuit (R for profanity, drug use, sexual references, and graphic violence) English language adaptation of In Order of Disappearance, the 2014 Norwegian crime thriller about a snow plow driver-turned-vigilante’s (Liam Neeson) hunt for the cocaine kingpin (Tom Bateman) responsible for his son’s (Micheál Richardson) murder. With Emmy Rossum, Laura Dern and William Forsythe.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (PG for crude humor) Animated musical adventure finds the citizens of Bricksburg facing a new threat, namely, invaders from outer space. Voice cast includes Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Alison Brie, Chris Pratt and Elizabeth Banks.
The Prodigy (R for violence, disturbing images, a sexual reference, and brief graphic nudity) Jackson Robert Scott stars as the title character in this horror flick about a young genius whose mother (Taylor Schilling) takes him to a therapist (Paula Boudreau) when she suspects he’s become possessed by a demonic supernatural force. With Colm Feore, Brittany Allen and Peter Mooney.
What Men Want (R for drug use, pervasive profanity, and sexuality) Romantic comedy about a female sports agent (Taraji P. Henson) who gains a competitive edge over her male colleagues when she develops the ability to hear men’s thoughts. Ensemble cast includes Tracy Morgan, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Shaquille O’Neal, Erykah Badu, Kellan Lutz, Aldis Hodge, and Mark Cuban.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
Chokehold (Unrated) Action thriller about an MMA fighter (Melissa Croden) who stops training for a title fight to avenge the murder of her father by Russian mobsters. With Casper Van Dien, Lochlyn Munro and Kip Pardue.
Everybody Knows (R for profanity) Introspective drama about a married woman (Penelope Cruz) who rendezvous with an ex-boyfriend (Javier Bardem) to reminisce about what might have been when she returns to her tiny hometown without her husband (Ricardo Darin) for her younger sister’s (Inma Cuesta) wedding. With Eduard Fernandez, Barbara Lennie, and Elvira Minguez. (In Spanish, English, and Catalan with subtitles)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (Unrated) Reverential rockumentary featuring concert footage of Hendrix’s historic performance in front of 300,000 fans at the Atlanta Pop Festival staged on July 4, 1970 at the Middle Georgia Raceway. Includes commentary by Paul McCartney, Billy Cox, and Steve Winwood.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot (Unrated) Sam Elliott plays the title character in this action adventure as Hitler’s assassin who finds himself recruited by the U.S. government decades later to track down the legendary Bigfoot deep in the Canadian wilderness. Supporting cast includes Larry Miller, Aidan Turner and Ron Livingston.
St. Agatha (Unrated) Horror flick, set in Georgia in 1957, about a pregnant con artist (Sabrina Kern) who takes refuge at a convent only to learn that its Mother Superior (Carolyn Hennesy) has a twisted agenda. Featuring Courtney Halverson, Seth Michaels and Trin Miller.
Under the Eiffel Tower (Unrated) Midlife crisis comedy about a 50-year-old guy (Matt Walsh) who proposes to his BFF’s daughter (Dylan Gelula) half his age after tagging along on their family’s Paris vacation. With Reid Scott, David Wan and Gary Cole.