Shot eight years ago, this Pierce Brosnan movie has languished on the shelf waiting to see the light of day. Andrews, and her dulcet tones, came on board in 2000 as narrator in a last-ditch attempt to add some semblance of order to the slapdash story.
Set in 17th century France, the action get underway with King Louis XVI (Brosnan) concerned with his mortality. He has immortality on his mind–“My immortality secures the future of France.”—even if his adviser Pere La Chase (William Hurt) finds the idea distasteful, if not blasphemous. “The only thing God gives as immortal is your soul,” he says, “and you only have one of those to lose.”
Tossing aside any thoughts of sacrilege apothecary Dr. Labarthe (Pablo Schreiber) tells the king of a sea creature, a mermaid (Fan Bingbing) with an essence that will keep death from knocking at the door, but only if the mermaid is sacrificed during a solar eclipse.
Captain Yves (Benjamin Walker) captures the mermaid just as the King’s illegitimate daughter, Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario), is brought to the palace. She’s been tucked away at a convent since she was a child, studying music, and doesn’t know her father is the King.
Marie-Josephe hears the mermaid’s siren song and is drawn to her watery prison. She’s also drawn to Captain Yves, despite her father’s wish that she marry Labarthe.
Meanwhile, the solar eclipse and possible mermaid dismemberment loom.
Not even the film’s backdrop, Versailles, the world’s most expensive movie set, can raise enough interest—visual or otherwise—for me to give “The King’s Daughter” a pass. The story has all the elements of a fun adventure but it appears that director Sean McNamara ran the entire thing through the Un-Fun-Omatic before shipping it off to theatres.
Brosnan is overshadowed by his silly wig. You can see Hurt reaching for the pay cheque and poor Fan Bingbing is rendered almost unrecognizable by the worst computer effects this side of Donkey Kong. Add to that a script heavy on lackluster fantasy clichés, light on actual French accents and loaded with unintentionally funny moments, and you’re left with a royal mess.
“The King’s Daughter” is a fairy tale, but there is no happily-ever-after here for anyone, especially the audience.