The King’s Daughter (2022)
Director: Sean McNamara
Writers: Barry Berman and James Schamus
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, William Hurt, Rachel Griffiths, and Fan Bingbing
Review: Honestly, did this movie ever even have a shot? First of all, in an age of delayed movies, this one takes the cake. Shooting on this ended all the way back in 2014! Do you know how different the world was back in 2014? There were only seven Star Wars movies back then? There have been five since this movie has been finished! So, what was the holdup? Essentially, studios played hot potato with it, passing it back and forth until one of them would eventually have to plop it into theaters and take the loss. But, that’s not the only thing this movie has going against it. You see, the director of this movie has almost forty years of experience in the field. The problem? None of that experience is very noteworthy with most of it being MTV, Nickelodeon, or Disney Channel shows. No shade to any of those, but they don’t really help the resume scream “big blockbuster director.” Then, finally, there’s a personal bias. See? I’m not that big of a fan of Pierce Brosnan. He’s by far my least favorite Bond and I haven’t really forgiven him for what I think is three of the franchise’s shittiest movies. Plus, this is a non-Disney fairy tale movie, which, again, don’t really have the best track record in the last 20 or so years. So, is the movie better than the sum of its parts? Did I enjoy it despite everything it had going against it? No. This movie is bad. And the people who made it should feel bad.
My main complaint with this movie is how incredibly boring it is. Nothing about it is special in the least. First of all, the plot is insanely predictable. Basically, an estranged daughter of King Louis XIV, who has a deep personal connection with the water, is brought into Versailles, where she bonds with her father. Meanwhile, she befriends a mermaid that the king has captured and intends to slay for a chance at immortality. What do you think is going to happen from here? Take a guess. If you’ve ever heard a story before, there’s a 98% chance you nailed the rest of the plot. With very few twists and turns, it plays out exactly as you think it would. Now, that’s not always a problem. Many of the classic Disney movies follow extremely simple plots. But, they also add a ton of charm that makes the characters and world stick with you for decades after your first viewing. Not The King’s Daughter though. These characters are as one-note and bland as you can get. I don’t think I could describe any of them to you except to say “she’s nice” and “they’re not.” Meanwhile, most of the cast, with a slight exception of Kaya Scodelario, seem to be sleepwalking through their entire performances. Heck, the mermaid itself has nothing going for it but some bad CGI. It’s remarkable how dull everything feels here.
I’ll give the movie a little credit though because it does work remarkably well in one sense. It is a hell of an advertisement for visiting Versailles. Having been filmed on location, the backdrops are spectacular. And you can tell the director knew that too since about 50% of the runtime can be summed up as “people in extravagant costumes traverse around the castle in slow motion.” At times, I admit, it was beautiful! However, with the less than stellar things going on inside that set, it had about the same effect perfume ads do. It’s pretty but ultimately hollow. It did cement my plans to eventually go to Paris someday though, because wow. I want to be there.
Overall, I don’t recommend The King’s Daughter. Other than the beautiful backdrop of Versailles, it has very little to offer. The story is predictable. The characters are unmemorable. The acting is flat. And, frankly, it feels a million times longer than the 90-minute runtime would have you believe. Stay home and watch a Disney animated feature instead. Heck, you’d probably be better off watching the live-action remake of that feature instead of watching this. At least you’d get something out of the experience. This is just a total waste of time.
TL;DR: Watching The King’s Daughter is like watching a perfume advertisement. The costumes and backdrop are gorgeous, but the experience is ultimately hollow and unremarkable.
Score: 4/10 (Bad)