The Princess subverts the fairytale genre expectations and makes Joey King an action hero in her fight to save the kingdom from enemies.
Now that 20th Century is under the Disney umbrella, does one count as a Disney princess if 20th Century releases the film? If so, this is the bloodiest movie to ever feature such a princess. Everywhere you look, there’s blood! Fights, not songs from Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, or the Sherman brother, are what progress the narrative. It’s one hell of a way to stand out in the genre. The other thing is that our titular princess (Joey King) also grew up training as a warrior. What is impressive about the fights is that Joey King does her own stunt work and there’s a sequence shot in one take. Her training comes in handy on the day of her wedding after leaving her suitor, Lord Julius of Bear Point (Dominic Cooper), at the alter. Sometimes you just know when somebody is not right for you.
After she turns down Lord Julius at the altar, his men trap her in the tower and then kidnap the King (Ed Stoppard), the Queen (Alex Reid), and her younger sister, Violet (Katelyn Rose Downey). Violet idolizes her older sister so it doesn’t come as a surprise when she also wants in on the action. The Princess uses her training to take their kingdom back from Lord Julius and his confidante, Moira (Olga Kurylenko). Credit the Queen for making sure she has secret training as a warrior from Linh (Veronica Ngo). Without the warrior training, who knows what would happen to their kingdom, let alone them.
When a film about a princess being trapped in a tower is released, it’s inevitable that there are going to be comparisons. Think Rapunzel meets Brave with a mix of The Raid. When the trailer came out, I heard some people say Shrek but I don’t see it here. Nobody is coming to save the day. She has to do it herself and thankfully, she has the training. She might have a close call every now and then but once she gets going, you can’t stop her. Even when you think she’s down, she’s certainly not out! Even though this is a princess movie, there is no chance that you could make this film through the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Not with the amount of blood and violence in this film. I’m not saying that it is too gory but a lot of the action pieces do get bloody.
This is a film that subverts our expectations of the fairytale genre. While there’s usually a princess in distress, someone usually has to come and rescue them. It’s a common trope especially in the Disney movies. In this film, it is the titular character who rises up to save the rest of the royal family.
In designing the sets, production designer Marc Homes draws exclusively from British history. And yet, in this 13th century kingdom, you have designs that have Russian, Italian, Ottoman, and Arabic influences. But even though they draw from so many influences, it still feels like an authentic medieval world. There might be a fairy tale action film at hand but at the end of the day, this film is very much grounded in realism in its design choices.
What makes the costumes so fun is that one usually wants to keep a wedding dress in mint condition. Or as close to mint condition as it gets. Not our titular hero! By the end of the film, the dress is ripped and bloody! There’s some modernity thrown in, too, when she has the opportunity to wear trousers. Suspend the disbelief for a moment because there’s no way any of that part is realistic at all. Elsewhere, Lord Julius gets a different wardrobe style than the King and Queen.
The Princess isn’t the traditional fairytale movie but it’s a movie that will inspire young women everywhere.
DIRECTOR: Le-Van Kiet
SCREENWRITERS: Ben Lustig & Jake Thornton
CAST: Joey King, Dominic Cooper, Olga Kurylenko, Veronica Ngo, Alex Reid, Ed Stoppard
20th Century Studios will release The Princess on Hulu on July 1, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5
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