The King’s Daughter 2022 Movie Review and Official Trailer
“The King’s Daughter” has been floating around as a possible project since the book on which it is based, Vonda McIntyre’s novel The Moon and the Sun, was published in 1997 (a short version called Game of Thrones). Winning the Nebula on the Book)) It’s not hard to see why this story holds so much attraction. A strong woman is the central character, and the book fuses historical fact and supernatural-fantasy together, using Louis XIV’s Versailles court, the “Sun King”, as background. Jim Henson Pictures expressed interest in the story, as did Disney. Natalie Portman was added at one point in the early aughts. Nothing came of it, although the property kept changing hands. The only reason for this backdrop is that “The King’s Daughter” directed by Sean McNamara, which was released on this day in the year 2022, was actually shot in 2014, and was slated for a 2015 release. To call it a “new release” is to stretch the truth into absurdity.
What has been going on for the last seven years? Why did this movie stall for so long? The budget was 40 million with a massive infusion late in the game to improve the special effects. It may have caused some holdups, but not all. Also, the special effects are not particularly creative and/or flashy, and in some cases look shockingly amateurish. Wherever spent, money is not on the screen. It’s a mystery what really happened here, and you can only watch The Hollywood Reporter’s articles for so long, wishing an unnamed source would give the first scoop. The “King’s Daughter” has come seven years behind schedule, and must be dealt with accordingly.
Narrated by Julie Andrews, the opening of the film’s fairy-tale “Once Upon a Time” depicts the illegitimate daughter of the Sun King, Mary-Joseph (Kaya Scodelario), who is cavernous at sea, where Mary-Joseph’s Passed as a nun. Ordering him to get out of the water stood on the beach. Marie-Joseph does not know that her father is emperor. He, apparently, is also a talented cellist. Meanwhile, at Versailles, after a failed assassination attempt on his life, King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) seeks the advice of an unscrupulous “doctor” named Labarthe (Pablo Schreiber), a mission to find the lost city of Atlantis. By sending expeditions, captured one. Mermaid, bring her back to Versailles, and sacrifice her during the upcoming lunar eclipse. According to Labarthe this would give Louis immortality. At the same time, Louis sends his long-lost daughter to court.
Marie-Joseph and the mermaid (Fan Bingbing) arrive at Versailles together and form a telepathic bond. Marie-Joseph is assigned a waiting lady, Magali (Krystal Clark), and the two immediately become besties, although it is unclear why. (In the book, this relationship is far more complicated.) Mary finds an unexpected ally in Jean-Michel Lintilac (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), the handsome sea captain who brought the mermaid back to court. Jean-Michel, Marie-Joseph, and the mermaid all yearn for the same thing: freedom.
There’s every kind of dramatic potential in this story that it’s all but exhausted. Scenes are tossed together with little interest in visual coherence or narrative clarity. For example, the film spends a lot of time in the mermaid’s underground cave at Versailles, and at one point, Jean-Michel mentions a “gate”, and when she does, there is a sudden quick shot of a gate, A gate we’ve never seen before. It is not clear whether the gate is actually in place or elsewhere. “Gate” later turns out to be crucial to the story, so you can almost hear the nervous whispers at some point during the last seven years: “Oops, he mentions Gate, but how do they know which one? Talking about? Put a shot, I don’t care where!” There are many such examples.
In another scene, Marie-Joseph sneaks out the window, fooling the guards at her door. We have already seen her window from outside, sitting on a slanted roof. She climbs up the ledge, and the very next moment we see her running across the lawn. The movie “How does she slide down a steep stone wall?” leaves it. Question. Some scenes were shot at Versailles, and there was no interest in them, even the visually impaired. This is no small feat!
There is a hodgepodge of costume styles, but without a purpose. The men are in pirate shirts and velvet vests, nods to the period, while the women are a mash-up of ’90s goth chicks, “dynasties,” “Knots Landing,” and social media “influencers.” It has no complaints about chronology. This is a complaint of incompatibility. Everything onscreen is information for the audience, but what is actually being told? Why is Marie-Joseph wearing an unflattering strapless gown that looks like it’s from a soap opera circa 1987, or a music video from circa 1984? Is it because that style of dress gives her body an hourglass (i.e. mermaid) shape, underscoring her connection to the imaginary creature? Make it meaningful.
“The King’s Daughter” is rated PG. Who is it really for though? Basic questions like “Who is this for?” It doesn’t seem to have been asked at any stage of the game, while the nervous “tweaking” left the rest incomprehensible. It’s an understatement to say that Vonda McIntyre’s book deserved better treatment.
Source: Sheila O’Malley, Roger Ebert, Direct News 99