This dopey would-be children’s fairy tale is no “Little Mermaid.”
When the brave sailor Yves De La Croix (Benjamin Walker) tells his crew Atlantis is “Due North,” his mate says: “Are you sure?,” and he responds: “Only if you believe in the unbelievable.”
Here’s my response: Ha, Ha, Ha! You call that a heroic line?
That’s one of the downsides of “The King’s Daughter,” a would-be family adventure, which I’m told was filmed in 2014, and took 8 years to be released. That’s not a good sign, considering that “The War with Grandpa” was originally scrapped from release, but still had the audacity to show its face in theaters, and I skipped it. “The King’s Daughter” is a dumb fantasy that the whole family can miss, and I’m sure they’ll miss it.
Pierce Brosnan plays King Louis XIV, who seeks a mermaid to sacrifice during the solar eclipse, so he can gain immortality. Only a female can be sacrificial. His confidant is the priest Francois de la Chaise (William Hurt), who tries and fails to show him the true meaning of his longevity. Why would a children’s fantasy feature sacrifices? It’s too dark for them. And then again, one of the versions of “The Little Mermaid” turned the girl into foam.
He requests his daughter Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) joins him at the Palace of Versailles, although no can know they’re related. Not even she knows she’s the princess. While he was living a life of royalty, she was sent to live at a covenant, where she always gets criticized by the abbess (Rachel Griffiths) for swimming in the ocean.
The young lady hears the sirens of the captured mermaid (Bingbing Fan), who now resides the cave. She doesn’t talk, but she can glow, and heal anything with her magic. She’s no Ariel; she’s just a shadow character.
The sailor, who captured and guards the fish, also becomes the apple of Marie-Josephe’s eye. He has dreams, and she has dreams, so they’re supposed to be a match made in Heaven.
The narrator of the film is the ageless Julie Andrews, who made my childhood so delightful with “Mary Poppins,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Shrek 2.” In “The King’s Daughter,” she sounds like she was roped into reading a book at a children’s library.
The only beautiful thing about this movie is Scodelario, who has lovely hair and wears a few gorgeous dresses. But I’m not a sexist, because her character is nothing more than a dope, who has nothing smart to say or do. She’s supposed to be the girl, who believes in fairy tales, and tries to be her father’s voice of reason. And she’s supposed to collapse to the floor crying, when she has to be married to the man she doesn’t love. It’s a wooden performance from this otherwise charming actress.
“The King’s Daughter” is DOA the minute we heard that inferior title, and when it suffers through its endless cliches and stupidity. Arranged marriages, father-daughter issues, romance, mythical creatures, friendly maids, etc, etc, etc. This doesn’t even know the true meaning of fairy tales.
Brosnan is another charming actor to disgrace himself in probably his most insipid since “The Love Punch.” He has to say: “boring” when the violinists play, and he has wander about acting all royalty. Is this supposed to be a comedy without laughs or a drama without brains? That’s something out of Roger Ebert, BTW.
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