The Princess REVIEW – Royally Bland
Joey King plays the title princess. She refuses to marry her husband on their wedding day and is kidnapped as a result. We see that she is far from a damsel-in-distress as she wakes up in a castle room still recovering from whatever drug he gave her.
The damsel-in-distress trope has been rewritten in new Disney films. They give female characters agency and are not tied to a man. This has been seen in Moana (Raya and the Lost Dragon), Encanto, and Encanto. While I enjoy watching a female protagonist kick an ass, The Princess is just another series of fight sequences which get repetitive as it goes on. But I suppose I shouldn’t expect much from a movie that didn’t bother to name its princess.
Julius (Dominic Cooper), after she refuses to marry him, becomes mad and attacks the entire kingdom. He’s now captured the whole royal family and is still determined to get the princess to marry him. Why bother? He has already taken the kingdom with force. I think he could just make himself King. The princess is now wreaking havoc at the castle, taking down his soldiers and sending them flying to their deaths from the castle walls. Flashbacks reveal her warrior training, which explains why she is so adept with a knife and can fight.
These flashbacks, however, fail to give the warrior training any substance. Her mentor Linh (Veronica Ngo), taught her basic skills when she was young. However, that doesn’t explain the reason she continues to learn these lessons. What is she learning? To defend the kingdom. To prove she is worthy to be her father’s heir. The backstory is brief, with Linh saying that she has the heart and courage of a warrior. The other characters have little to no sense of character.
Julius is sociopathic, power-hungry and sociopathic. Why? He is just that. His right-hand woman Moira (Olga Kurylenko), is also evil and exists only to be sadistic, and loyal to Julius. Although there are some good scenes, such as the fight between Linh and the princess in the kitchen or when the princess defeats the super-buff guy, the movie’s sheer number of fight scenes makes it difficult to see the effectiveness of these scenes. It’s obvious that she is wearing plot armour and will make it to the end. There’s no tension.
Although the symbolism of Grace’s wedding dress becoming a battle outfit is well done, it feels a little empty as her main character is not well developed. In the film, Ready but Not Grace, the main character, starts the story in a wedding gown. As the story progresses, it becomes more bloody and torn. It is a reflection of both the lies her marriage was built upon and the true nature of the Le Domas family. We saw her happiness and joy as she stood in her gown. Now, her world is crumbling around her. The princess, who rejects marriage as a feminist, becomes a warrior for the fact that women can do everything a man can. Her character is complete. Even Wendy Wu’s homecoming soldier had a better story, despite the Disney formula.