February 5, 2019 – This is one of those rare, live-action PG-rated kid-friendly family films that is smart, funny and well-made. One might compare it to some of the early Harry Potter films, and there are, in fact, references to Harry Potter in this film.
This is based on the legends of King Arthur and his magical sword Excalibur, but is set in modern day England, where young Alex Elliot (played by Louis Ashbourne Serkis, son of Andy Serkis) and his best friend, Bedders ((played by Dean Chaumoo) are both being bullied at a prep school by older schoolmates Lance (Tom Taylor of “The Dark Tower”) and Kaye (Rhianna Dorris).
Chased by Lance and Kaye to a construction site, Alex finds a sword in a stone and pulls it out. The magic sword lights up when danger is nearby, and it begins lighting up soon after he finds it when Morgan le Fay (AKA Morgana — Rebecca Ferguson of “Mission: Impossible - Fallout”) wakes up from her long sleep and sends her minions after Alex and Excalibur. Merlin (played as a youth by Angus Imrie and as an adult by Patrick Stewart of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”) also shows up about the same time, disguised as another school boy. He sometimes turns into a bird, or an adult.
Merlin tells Alex that in a few days a total solar eclipse will signal the release of a terrible destructive evil into the world. It is up to Alex and his knights of the round table to find and defeat the evil Morgana and her hordes before the eclipse, thereby saving the world.
When Alex tells Lance and Kaye that they need to kneel before him so they can become knights of the round table, they are as skeptical about this as you might imagine. Bedders, on the other hand, is happy to become a knight. After a lot of persuading by Alex, Bedders and Merlin, Lance and Kaye are nighted. They set off on a journey to find the secret underground entrance to Morgana's lair. There are several encounters with the Lady of the Lake.
This is a long, involved journey, with time out to train for combat with swords. Alex has a problem with his mother, Mary (Denise Gough of “Colette”) who doesn't like him running around with a large sword. Adventures increase in danger as the eclipse grows nearer. The kids end up in dangerous sword fights. They learn to ride horses and travel through magical standing stone portals. Bedders learns the magic of metal duplication, which comes in handy for financing these adventures.
Along the way, Alex learns the truth about his mother and father. In essence, he comes of age during this journey. The movie really goes off the deep end during a climactic battle with Morgana and her minions at the prep school, but prior to that, the story is a bit more grounded in the believable personalities of these four youths.
This is a fun fantasy adventure suitable for families, and there aren't many of this quality made these days. It is amusing and enjoyable. The characters are engaging and there is plenty of action. This film rates a B.
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