Saturday, March 16, 2024


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2024
Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Ray Winstone, Robin Wright, Angela Bassett, Brooke Carter, Nick Robinson, Milo Twomey, Nicole Joseph, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo made a name for himself with the somewhat underrated "Intacto", which came out in 2001, and went on to direct the solid sequel to Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later". Since then he tackled the Clive Owen fronted "The Intruders" and some TV movies, but nothing that allowed for his talent and point of view to come across. "Damsel" follows the story of Elodie, a young woman whose father agrees to marry her to a Queen's son, since their region and people are impoverished, and this union will bring some much needed money influx. While initially unsure of the situation, Elodie agrees with it for the well being of everyone. When they get to Aurea and meet the rulers, there's a certain aloofness from the Queen, but Elodie and her betrothed start chatting and eventually notice some chemistry between each other. Elodie's stepmother warns her not to go through with the wedding. She suspects the Queen is up to no good. Elodie goes along with the wedding ceremony, which is followed by a ritual that takes place in the mountain. After the ritual takes place, the prince carries Elodie in his arms, and throws her into the chasm. She survives the fall, and as she recovers, she realizes more young women have befallen prey of that sacrifice, and that in reality there's an enormous dragon intent on killing her to fulfill an arrangement the Queen's family made generations ago. She has to devise a way to overcome several obstacles if she wants to survive. 
The script for "Damsel" comes from Dan Mazeau, who also wrote the story for Justin Lin & Louis Leterrier's "Fast X", as well as Jonathan Liebesman's "Wrath of the Titans". Which for all intended purposes means that this film ends up being rather flimsy in terms of character development and even situational development. As much as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has a vision and a style, there's only so much he can bring to a narrative that is rather insipid and not particularly revolutionary. Elodie, the central character, is meant to symbolize a rather more empowered princess, someone who is more emboldened, and not quite so passive when it comes to taking ahold of her destiny. However most of that emboldening is illustrated in the early scenes where we witness her chopping wood, and later on as she's dealing with the threat of a herculean Dragon, she MacGyvers something with her own hair in order to lure the creature in. As far as who this princess actually is, that's something that's never really uncovered or even alluded to, the same going for the supporting characters. The always wonderful Robin Wright and Angela Bassett (and also Ray Winstone) are settled with rather stunted characters, which while they do bring some regality and nuance to their depiction, they're not the focus of the narrative, nor their characters have that much to offer. It's a rather formulaic type of storyline, which Juan Carlos Fresnadillo manages to bring to life with fairly decent visual effects and production design, but that sadly just isn't particularly memorable. The cast, in addition to Robin Wright, Angela Bassett and Ray Winstone, isn't particularly memorable either, though Shohreh Aghdashloo does make a convincing Dragon voice. Larry Fong's cinematography is solid, as is David Fleming's score, Patrick Tatopoulous production design, and Amanda Monk's costume design. It's a rather forgettable endeavor stemming from an uninspired script.