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The Wessex Wire

The Wessex Wire

REVIEW: “Damsel” fails to slay in creativity

Photo obtained from IMDb
Released on March 8, “Damsel” did not live up to expectations.

“Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown made headlines when it was announced that she was taking the lead role in a new Netflix Original, “Damsel,” an action-fantasy film with flashy visuals that promised a novel twist on the classic fairy trope “the damsel in distress.”. The film gained popularity from its stunning visuals in the trailer and quickly charted at No. 1 on movie charts once released exclusively on Netflix. But despite the initial hype, the quality of the actual movie is a different story. “Damsel” ends up being a mixed bag, with very good characters but lackluster writing; fans with reasonable expectations who are looking for a good time can still find fun in it, but people hoping for Brown’s big breakout role aren’t getting their fairy-tale ending here.

Directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and written by Dan Mazeau, “Damsel” is about a young woman named Elodie (Brown) who comes from a poor kingdom and sees a chance to change her and her people’s lives when a rich prince wants to marry her. The problem arises when the royal family’s intentions are revealed, wanting to sacrifice her to the dragon so peace would remain in the kingdom.  Trapped in a cave with a brutal and fearsome dragon, the damsel now has to rely on her abilities and intelligence to survive.

The main flaw of this movie is that it feels too predictable a majority of the time. The acting is definitely well done, but the lack of surprises stick out like a sore thumb. It follows a theme that’s worked wonders for other media, but there isn’t a spin to distinguish it. It doesn’t take risks that would make it unique in any way. It feels like a typical “Damsel in distress” movie, which is obvious from the title, but then fails to do more to separate it from other movies plot-wise. It reverses the narrative of the damsel being in distress by having her actually being the one fighting for the benefit of herself and others.  This makes the film feel like it is truly missing something. This could’ve been avoided if the writing was more ambitious in terms of writing. The lack of experimental writing makes for a bland plot. The writing could’ve been built on, especially considering the great cast. The reasoning for this can be attributed to the writing seeming rushed. It is not confirmed how long the writing process was for the film, but it could’ve used more time for sure. The plot in theory is good, but a lack of originality and experimentation led to a pretty run-of-the-mill plot.

Another problem was the CGI used making the movie very unrealistic. This also seems to be rushed, like how the writing seems to be. Some of the highlights are high, but some of it is very sloppy. The inconsistency greatly hurts the movie because it shows what the CGI has the potential to be. It is an indicator that more time was desperately needed.

Besides Elodie, characters like Queen Isabelle (Robin Wright), Lady Bayford (Angela Bassett) and Prince Henry (Nick Robinson) also share screen time as highlights, but Brown proves her consistency in this performance. She has been playing more and more big roles recently and hasn’t dropped the ball a single this decade, showing that she’ll always deliver. Prince Henry is played greatly. His conflict regarding his sacrifice gives the movie much greater depth. Lady Bayford has a very strong presence as the stepmother of Elodie. She had an aura that very few characters had and this is due to Bassett’s acting ability.  She feels important and at the start is a voice of reason having suspicions of Queen Isabelle. Queen Isabelle’s portrayal is very well done in the sense of how stone-cold she is. These characters are written well and prove to be the diamonds in the rough. They don’t “save” the movie, but they make it far more enjoyable.

There are many flaws, but the film ends up being relatively entertaining. As previously stated, the characters and acting are both great. It can be a fun movie if viewers don’t have expectations that are too high and don’t mind some of the flaws. The final verdict though, is that the whole process of creating the film was rushed and could’ve used more time for writing and production. The bland plot and poorly done CGI make for an overall disappointing film, which was greatly helped by the standout acting performances.

Behind the Byline
Evan Hines
Evan Hines, Staff Writer
Evan Hines is an apprentice editor for the 2023-2024 Wessex Wire who specializes in arts & culture articles. He loves listening to music, watching movies/T.V. shows and hanging out with friends in his free time. He is a huge New York sports fan, supporting the Jets, Yankees, Devils and Knicks.
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