Directed by: Le-Van Kiet
Premise: A princess (Joey King) refuses to marry a nobleman and he takes the castle by force, locking her in the tower. The princess fights off the invaders.
What Works: The Princess is a reworking of the Die Hard formula by way of Sleeping Beauty. The film opens with the familiar fairy tale premise of a princess asleep and imprisoned in a castle tower. She awakens and begins fighting her way out of the tower in an effort to save her family and free her people. The film succeeds to the extent that it does because of Joey King’s performance in the title role. She has the scrappiness and wry sense of humor displayed by Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard. That element distinguishes The Princess. It’s violent and vicious but with a persistent comic tone. The filmmakers know what they’re making and don’t take this too seriously. It’s light without compromising the action.
What Doesn’t: The pacing of The Princess is start and stop. The action scenes are kinetic but whenever the lead character isn’t fighting off bad guys the energy subsides and the movie feels inert. The characters are not interesting. Everybody is one note and the lead villain (Dominic Cooper) is an unthreatening mustache twirler. The action scenes are largely the same and tend to get repetitive. The filmmakers keep hitting a lot of the same beats with the swarthy looking mercenaries uttering sexist comments and swinging their weapons. The fight scenes are not very well shot. The actors do a fine job with the choreography and selling the ferocity of combat but the fisticuffs aren’t staged in a way that is exciting or visually interesting. A few of the special effects are dodgy especially some lousy digital fire effects. A lot of the violence doesn’t make sense. The nobleman needs the princess alive. He has to force her into marriage for his reign to be legitimate but all of his henchmen are trying to kill her. The story also misunderstands some of what made Die Hard and its better imitators work so well. In those films, the hero is reluctant but he must act because he’s the only one who can save the day. That isolation and call to duty make those heroes interesting. The heroine of The Princess can’t wait to stab somebody. She’s a trained warrior, which does give the film some credibility, but the castle is full of other staff who could pick up a sword and fight back but don’t.
Bottom Line: It’s good The Princess debuted on a streaming platform because it certainly would not be worth the price of a theater ticket. It doesn’t have the showmanship of other recent action pictures and aspects of it look amateurish. This is passable entertainment but just barely.
Episode: #909 (July 10, 2022)