Saturday, March 20, 2010

Canon Movie Review: The Swan Princess

First of all, congratulations to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for winning their NCAA tournament game against Oklahoma State. Say what you will about the Jackets season, but at least they can say they won one game in the "Big Dance". Too bad Derrick Favors is leaving after the season and Georgia Tech will go back to a below-average team, but for now, I'll enjoy it. Next the Jackets play Ohio State, and I'm expecting that their season will end after that game. But hey, at least they did better than Clemson. Enough about that, let's get to the review. This idea came from reader Maggie W. who requested that I watch the movie The Swan Princess while I was eating at the Italian Garden. Originally, she wanted me to watch all three movies of the Swan Princess series, but eventually she reduced the request to just the first Swan Princess movie. That's a relief, as sequels to animated movies usually suck. For example, I liked the first Aladdin movie, but I remember seeing the sequel to it in middle school and thinking it was just ridiculous. Anyway, I finally got around to watching The Swan Princess earlier today, and here are a few thoughts I have on the film:

- I feel unqualified to give this movie a proper review, as I'm pretty sure that the makers of The Swan Princess did not tailor it so a 27 year old male would like it. With that said, I will say that I enjoyed it more than I Know Who Killed Me, as the plot actually made sense. I could have done without all the singing, but then again, I'm sure the movie's intended audience enjoyed it.

- The movie had an interesting cast. After all, what movie ever featured Jack Palance, Steven Wright, and John Cleese together? No other movie can make that claim, that's for sure. The rest of the cast was composed mainly of performers from Broadway who could at least carry a decent tune and a bunch of bit actors you've probably never heard of.

- The story is rather simple, a princess is born to a King William. He and a widowed queen named Uberta come up with a cunning plan, they will try to get the King's daughter, Odette, to marry the queen's son, Derek. All of this because Derek showed the princess a shiny necklace or something. To ensure that this works, the king sends his daughter away to Uberta's house every summer so Derek and Odette can spend three months together and hopefully fall for each other. Neither Derek or Odette is particularity pleased at this prospect, and express this feeling in a three minute song. I could hardly blame them, especially poor Odette, who had to spend three months away from home for reasons unknown. That would kind of suck. Eventually, the two do realize that they feeling for each other, but just before they are to announce their engagement, Derek, like most men, screws it up. When Odette asks if Derek loves her for a reason other than her beauty, Derek replies; "What else is there?" Well, that was a dumb thing to say. If our boy Derek had said something else, her charm, her sense of humor, her carpentry skills, anything, then they would have married right then and there. Instead the princess leaves in a huff and everyone's disappointed.

- After all of that, the King and Odette are attacked by a sorcerer type guy named Lord Rothbart (played by Jack Palance), who turns into a giant dragon laying everyone to waste. He then kidnaps Odette and puts a spell on her that changes her to a swan every day, and she can only turn human at night, if the moonlight shines on her wings and if she's in the lake at the time. He then asks for Odette's hand in marriage for control of her kingdom. Since no woman in their right mind would marry a bald man with a giant mustache who has casts a spell turning them into a bird every day and keeping her against her will, Odette refuses. Meanwhile, Odette the swan makes other animal friends, such as Speed the turtle (played by Steven Wright) and a delusional frog named Jean-Bob (played by John Cleese) who thinks he's a prince and will change back to human form if Odette kisses him. With a name like Jean-Bob, I suspect he's a prince from the southern region. Odette also rescues a wounded bird named Puffin, who claims to be a lieutenant. We never found out which army Puffin serves in, because he ends up hanging around and becoming the mastermind of this rag-tag group on a mission to find Derek.

- Odette's animal sidekicks aren't too annoying, even though Jean-Bob is a little overbearing, Speed makes up for by being awesome. He was my favorite character in the movie by far. Derek also has his entourage, most of whom are pleasant enough. However, his boyhood chum Bromley is an annoying cheat and the type of guy who's always talking crap but folds when things gets rough. He was totally useless, except at the end where he (and Derek) just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Then he goes on bragging again. First of all, I can't see how Derek would be so loyal to such a putz. Sure, Derek's not the sharpest tool in the drawer, but even he should have been able to see how useless Bromley was. Second, it probably wasn't nice of me to root for his death at the hands of Rothbart, but dang it, I couldn't help myself.

- At the end, Rothbart comes up with a cunning scheme where Derek will pledge his unending love to another woman besides Odette, which for whatever reason will kill her (tangent: which also means that Rothbart would have no legal claim to the throne, and since he was already kicked out of town, I'm absolutely positive that the townspeople in the other kingdom which we never hear from again after five minutes would revolt if Rothbart would try to claim the throne, but I digress). Anyway, Rothbart disguises his old bat of an assistant as Odette, and sure enough, Derek makes the vow to the wrong woman (if Derek had made that vow to the actual Odette, than the spell would be broken, I forgot to mention that part). Odette "dies" and Derek and Rothbart fight for the life of Odette. You can figure out what happens from there.

As you might be able to tell if you've read this post, I really don't know what to say about this film. It's a simple story about a princess and a prince and the troubles that keep them apart, with a few animal sidekicks and a bunch of singing thrown in. If you like those types of movies, than The Swan Princess should fit the bill quite nicely, as there's nothing really bad about the film that I can see. The story is engaging enough, the songs are catchy, most people would find the characters endearing, and it all wraps up with a ending where everyone lived happily ever after. As for me, I found this movie to be harmless enough, although there were times I wished everyone would stop singing and do something instead. Plus both Derek and Odette were, frankly, quite one-dimensional characters once you get past the fact that Odette was a swan half the time. But I will say that at least this movie wasn't that annoying, and I was at least entertained by the film. I'll give The Swan Princess a 5.79 out of 10, and I'll completely understand if you choose to ridicule me for liking this film, but that's how I feel about it.

Thanks for reading. As you can plainly see, I'll write about pretty much any requests you have, so if you have an idea for a review, than let me know by leaving a comment or by shooting be an e-mail at Tomorrow, I'm going to buy cereal for a future review, so be on the lookout for that. I leave you with a musical montage from The Swan Princess called No Fear. Enjoy.

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