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The King’s Daughter: A Royal Mess

Posted by April 24th, 2022 No Comments »

The King’s Daughter (2002)
Directed by Sean McNamara
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Kaya Scodelario and William Hurt

From the director who brought us classics like Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite!, Aliens Ate My Homework and 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain comes Sean McNamara’s latest (and possibly greatest): The King’s Daughter.

Filmed in April of 2014 and released in January of 2022, The King’s Daughter is based on the 1997 novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre. I have a feeling that the book is nowhere near as terrible as the film, since it won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1997 by beating out A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. But what do I know? I stopped reading fantasy books in high school after getting burned out on six straight Xanth novels.

The MVP of this film, (if there is one), is King Louis’ luscious locks. Pierce Brosnan’s wig (or extensions) are by far the most realistic aspect, flowing gently in the wind and bouncing beautifully as the king rides his noble steed. Everything else in this film, however, seems confused and incomplete…like a jigsaw puzzle with none of its border pieces. Perhaps it was edited multiple times over the seven years it was shelved, only to be Humpty-Dumptied back together after each attempt? Maybe they shouldn’t have put it back together at all. The upside is that the final run-time is a breezy one hour and thirty minutes.

From Bond to Boutique

Poor William Hurt. He can’t help but act well. Even as Brosnan’s portrayal seems to poke fun at the script, Hurt shuffles on screen as though The King’s Daughter is an actual period piece. It isn’t. And Hurt is playing Bronsan character’s number two in what was once a paint by numbers fantasy film. Because of the patchwork editing, this film no longer fits any formulaic or predictable pattern. The sheer lunacy of the editing actually brought me more laugh-out-loud experiences than any comedy I’ve seen in recent years.

The other principal actor is Kaya Scodelario, who plays the impossibly stupid potential heir to the throne, Marie-Josephe. I have a feeling the actress that wowed me in breakout role as Haley in horror film Crawl (2019) had much more fun filming on set with alligators in Florida than the opulent Palace of Versailles. Why? Because the lines spoken by the young actress are ludicrous and she knows it. Her face tells us so.

From the aforementioned Palace of Versailles to the pastoral beauty that backdrops the penultimate scene, the locations look magnificent. This is in stark contrast to one of the main set pieces. It looks like it was left over from an aquatic episode of the original Star Trek series. Our heroine returns to it over and over again after passing through the grand gardens of Versailles. The transition is as abrupt and off putting as the editing. Maybe it was a last-minute addition to up the “swashbuckling” aspect of the film? Or maybe Kylin Pictures (the company who invested $20.5 million in the project) wanted it there? This is China’s biggest financial contribution to a non-studio film produced outside China. Maybe this financial contribution is what finally allowed The King’s Daughter to be released? With a 40-million-dollar budget, it will have to equal its worldwide receipts for a quarter century to break even.

I have seen some bad films over the years, but few made me laugh out loud as much as The King’s Daughter. That means it holds a special place in my heart. Does that mean I am going to watch 3 Ninjas: High Noon starring Hulk Hogan? Probably not, but I will check out McNamara’s next project. Hopefully, it will be as much of a trainwreck as The King’s Daughter. The title? (Dramatic pause)… It’s called Reagan.

If other so-bad-they’re-at-least-interesting films like Cats (2019) and The Happening (2008) are C’s, then The King’s Daughter is a D.


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