Kids of the Round Table (1995)
Film review #583
Director: Robert Tinnell
SYNOPSIS: Alex and his schoolfriends enjoy re-enacting the legend of King Arthur. Running away from some bullies, Alex stumbles upon a sword in a stone, which he pulls out and is revealed to be Excalibur, the legendary weapon of King Arthur. Merlin appears before Alex and explains how Excalibur may be used to give him the power to overcome his problems, but also that this power must only be used for good…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Kids of the Round Table is a 1995 film. The plot revolves around a kid named Alex who stumbles upon the sword in the stone from Arthurian legends. Removing the sword, Merlin appears to tell Alex that it is Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur, and will grant Alex the power to overcome his problems, but only if he uses the power for the right reasons. The plot of the film essentially revolves around Alex using the power of Excalibur, and the dilemmas that arise from it. It touches on a number of different points, but nothing with a depth that makes the plot points memorable or non-predictable. That said, there are a few scenes which explore the dilemmas with some strong and emotionally powerful dialogue, that give weight to what is happening.
A good portion of the film sets up a a love triangle between Alex, Jenny, and Luke, mirroring the same relationship between Arthur Guinevere and Lancelot in the Arthurian legends. Again, the dialogue that comes out of as a consequence of this is mature and impactful, and Malcolm MacDowell as Merlin offers some sage advice in a rare non-villain role. Despite this, a lot of the line deliveries, particularly from the kids and lesser known actors, are a bit flat. We never really get any depth from any of the characters, and they are just very surface-level personalities without a unique hook. The biggest issue the film faces is with the pacing: it has a fair amount going on at the beginning of the film setting out it’s premise then it just…stops. The film clearly has ideas, it just doesn’t push them at all. the finale of the film, featuring “Scar” (played by Michael Ironside) and his buddies taking Jenny and her friends hostage at her birthday party after the criminals have robbed a bank goes on forever: nearly half the film is dedicated to this part which unfolds so slowly it feels like a waste of runtime.
This film looks exactly like you would imagine a 90’s film would look like, and it doesn’t really distinguish itself in this way. One of the production aspects that definitely stands out is the score: the full orchestral pieces are really strong and moving, and again coupled with the emotional scenes, makes a good impact. Overall, Kids of the Round Table has some good moments and some decent cast members to support it, but seems to hold back in terms of fleshing out it’s concept more fully. This definitely has potential to be more than it is, but it keeps everything at a very surface-level exploration, as the characters don’t really develop into anything special, and the different setups don’t take advantage of the concept. Some good heartfelt moments, and a nice score grip the viewer at certain moments, but fail to add up to make the film something special.