Here’s a tragic story: There was once an action-adventure drama with the production. Almost eight years, a title change and a new distribution plan later, the film finally sees the light of day. Nothing about it feels worth the wait.
Childish and plodding, “The King’s Daughter”—originally called “The Moon and the Sun” and based on the fantasy novel of that name—begins when the plucky Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario) is recruited to Versailles as a royal composer. Our young heroine, who is of thin descent, is fond of palace life and even bonds with the exalted monarch of France, King Louis XIV (a wrinkly Pierce Brosnan). Their relationship seems strangely coquettish, until, what a surprise: Marie-Josephe discovers that she is not an orphaned Paysan, but Louis’s estranged child. (It’s not hard to guess that the title of the movie “The King’s Daughter” was a Hail Mary to undermine the principals’ inadvertent framing as a romantic couple in the making.)
Oh, and there’s also a CGI mermaid (Fan Bingbing) who is held captive until an impending eclipse, when the king sacrifices her in exchange for immortality.
Directed by Sean McNamara, the film seems to aspire to the grand, gritty allure of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. And partly shot on location in Versailles, the visuals are sometimes beautiful. For example, when Marie-Josephe and a ship captain frolic through Hameau de la Reine, the natural beauty of the setting provides a momentary reprieve – until the scene ends and we are thrown back into the storybook madness.
The King’s Daughter
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. In theaters.