There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Alexander (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is an ordinary kid, with ordinary problems. He has to deal with a couple of school bullies on a regular basis, but his friend Bedders (Dean Chaumoo) is always loyally by his side. One evening, Alexander is running away from the bullies when he stumbles into a construction site. That is when something peculiar catches his eye. He sees a sword protruding from a chunk of concrete, but curiously, he is able to pull it out with ease.
Alexander quickly shows Bedders his sword, but things start to get very strange the next day. There is a weird new kid at school, who seems oddly obsessed with Alexander. The kid tells him that he is the infamous wizard Merlin (Angus Imrie), that Alexander is King Arthur’s heir, and that the sword he pulled is actually Excalibur. Before all of this is able to sink in, Merlin also informs Alexander that King Arthur’s evil half-sister Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson) will be coming with an army to retrieve the sword and enslave humanity. Alexander is just a boy, but Excalibur chose him to be the one to save mankind. However, in order to complete his mission and save mankind, he will need to count on some unlikely allies.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Alexander & His Knights (+6pts)
The Plans (-4pts)
Merlin’s Spells (-2pts)
The Sword & The Lady of The Lake (+4pts)
Pro: Alexander & His Knights (+6pts)
Louis Ashbourne Serkis did a good job in the lead role of this movie. Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, and Rhianna Dorris did great jobs in their respective supporting roles as well. The group was fun to watch, as they had the interesting dynamic of being two bullies having to work together with the kids they bully. I liked this dynamic, although that storyline was a bit predictable. Regardless, I enjoyed watching these kids working together and I liked that each had their unique strengths, although Kaye (Rhianna Dorris) was somewhat underdeveloped compared to the rest.
It was fun to go along with these kids on their journey, and it was fun to see how they took on Morgana’s minions in the final battle. The bullies were interesting to see developed, but my favorite dynamic was the one between Alexander and Bedders. I do not want to give anything away, but it was a fun friendship to follow. One of my favorite parts of this movie was the early stages of the final fight. I really enjoyed seeing how each of these kids acted as a sort of General in their war, and I enjoyed seeing how each section handled Morgana’s minions differently, and with the various objects they had at their disposal. The movie was not perfect, but it was fun to go along with, and I believe these kids were the primary reason why.
Con: The Plans (-4pts)
I liked the movie because of the group of kids, but it always felt like they had no real plan. Alexander decided to go searching for his father for answers, but he had a pretty flimsy reason in believing that his father would have the answers he was looking for. It also seemed strange that his friends decided to join him on this journey, and it seemed even stranger that Merlin decided not to say anything when he knew something that would make the whole mission feel like a waste of time. It seemed like the filmmakers wanted Alexander and his knights to have something to do before making a reveal later in the movie, but the filmmakers could not think of anything productive for them to be doing. The result was a good chunk of the movie that could have been cut. Cutting it would have let the filmmakers focus on other things and it would have let them tell a much more entertaining story.
One of my favorite parts of this movie was the early stages of the final battle, but even then it seemed like the kids had a very poor plan. They had a rough plan of how to trap Morgana, but they had no reason to believe that Morgana would ever be in that exact spot. It was as if they needed a step-by-step, A-to-Z plan to get Morgana. Instead of planning for every step, they planned for A, D, J, Q, and Z, and then kind of just hoped that the rest would work out on its own. This made the plan feel very weak, and it made me far less invested in the climax, because the luck the kids required told me that the writers were going to write the easiest, most convenient ending for the kids.
Pro: Merlin (+4pts)
I thought this character was one of the more interesting and entertaining parts of this movie. Merlin was King Arthur’s advisor, mentor, and wizard. Now that King Arthur’s trusted sword has returned, Merlin was seeking out Alexander to aid him in his quest to stop the evil Morgana. However, Merlin disguised himself as a young teen in order to blend in. The idea of Merlin in a kid’s body was a lot of fun to see explored. I liked the character a lot, and after every one of the characters scenes, I was left wanting to see more of him.
The character was far from the movie's main focus, but the movie was always more entertaining when he was on screen, and I thought the actor was a big reason why. Angus Imrie played the young Merlin and I thought he had a ton of charisma. Merlin was an alien to this time, and I enjoyed seeing Angus Imrie play into that. This movie had its flaws, but Merlin was far from one of them. The character was interesting, and the young actor made him very entertaining.
Con: Merlin’s Spells (-2pts)
I liked the character a lot, but the manner in which he cast spells felt like a weird creative choice. Was this idea one that the actor brought to the table, or was it something the filmmakers wanted? I do not know the answer to that question, but I do know that Merlin’s spell casting was so silly that it took me out of the movie a few times. Whenever the guy wanted to use some magic, he would start snapping and slapping his hands together like a lunatic, and it was just bizarre.
I thought I would get used to it, but even though I began expecting it, I never really got used to it. The tone of the movie was always light, but this aspect of Merlin made the character—at times—feel like a cheap parody of what he should have been. I liked every other aspect of the character, but every time he went to cast a spell, I found myself distracted by how dumb the snapping and slapping looked.
Pro: The Sword & The Lady of The Lake (+4pts)
King Arthur is a story that has been told many times and in many different ways. One recurring aspect of this story is King Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur. In this movie, the sword revealed itself to Alexander and had some magical properties. When writing a story around this mythical sword, it would be easy to make the sword overly powerful, in an attempt to add cool action, but the filmmakers of this movie did not over do it.
The sword warned Alexander of danger, only he could pull it from a stone, and the sword was not very effective when in the hands of someone else. The other mythical aspect of the sword was it’s relationship to the Lady of the Lake, the keeper of the sword. Whenever the sword was lost or broken, the chosen King needed only to find a body of water—even a filled bath tub—and ask the Lady of the Lake to return it. It was such a simple idea, and it did not give Alexander any sort of advantage, but it added a ton of mystery to the sword and made the story feel way more magical, while making Alexander feel way more special.
Con: Morgana (-4pts)
Morgana was played by Rebecca Ferguson, who I have seen good performances from, but this character ended up being pretty disappointing and one-dimensional. She was evil, she turned into a giant monster when it was convenient for her to be menacing, and she turned into her more human form when it was convenient to show the actress playing the character. The character felt like a very underdeveloped video game boss, and it made for a pretty bland final fight. The filmmakers failed to make the character interesting or entertaining, so she ended up being very forgetful.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
I got some mild enjoyment out of this movie, but it was unfortunately nothing special. I liked the group of kids, I liked the early stages of the final battle, and I liked the character of Merlin. I also enjoyed the relationship between Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, but I did have my share of issues with the movie. A lot of the movie was spent following Alexander on a mission that was a colossal waste of time. To make matters worse, Merlin knew it was a waste of time, yet for some reason he did not have a problem with Alexander going on it.
The filmmakers relied on convenience as a plot device to setup the final stage of the final battle. The antagonist was severely underdeveloped, and not very entertaining. I also thought Merlin’s snap-fest spell-casting was silly and distracting. I had my issues with the movie, but I was fortunately mildly entertained from start to finish, which I think can be contributed to the fun dynamic between the actors who played Alexander and his group of companions. It was a fun group dynamic that made this movie much more entertaining than it should have been, given the writing that surrounded them.