'The King's Daughter' review: Long delayed fantasy adventure arrives with a whimper
Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures
If you find yourself in a movie theater over the weekend watching “The King’s Daughter” because, I hope, you have nothing else better to do, don’t be surprised if it looks as though you’re stepping through a time machine because the movie rolled cameras and wrapped production eight years ago. Originally set-up at Paramount, it’s now in the hands of an indie distributor, has undergone a title change and looks slapped together by a team of editors contracted to meet a theatrical release deadline. Too bad Paramount didn’t have their streaming service in 2014, because “The King’s Daughter,” a story about King Louis XIV sacrificing a mermaid for immortality, is the literal definition of a streaming dumpster fire.
Originally titled “The Moon and the Sun” and based on the novel of the same name, “The King’s Daughter” follows the exploits of Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) who’s recruited to Versaillies as a royal composer and becomes enamored with the palace lifestyle and even strikes a kinship with France’s dashing King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan sporting a thick mane of hair). Considering the movie has been renamed “The King’s Daughter,” it’s not a stretch to assume Marie-Josephe is King Louis’ offspring despite director Sean McNamara trying to treat it as some major reveal in the third act. You’re not fooling anyone, dude.
McNamara, as well as the entire cast and crew, have probably forgotten their involvement in the film. That’s not to say the actors are terrible, on the contrary: William Hurt, Pablo Schreiber, Rachel Griffiths, and Benjamin Walker are great performers, though it’s a bit obvious they didn’t want to be involved when they were filming (hey, everyone has a mortgage!). As for the wobbly narrative, glued together by the odd framing of Marie and King Louis’ relationship, it involves a lunar eclipse and the capture/blood sacrifice of a mermaid (played via motion capture by international superstar Binbing Fan) that will grant the pernicious King immortality like a portable fountain-of-youth.
The mermaid, who doesn’t even have a name, looks plucked from a poorly rendered Nintendo 64 game of the early nineties. You’d think with the advancement in technology, “The King’s Daughter” could have polished the creature in post-production. That it looks as bad as it does is even more mind-numbing because the movie has been literally on the shelf for almost a decade. Perhaps as a piece of fun trivia, “The King’s Daughter” will find its enduring legacy (and maybe Brosnan’s hairdo will live in infamy). I weep for the poor souls who inadvertently stumble into a movie theater showing this crippled storybook fantasy.
THE KING’S DAUGHTER is now playing in theaters.