Millie Bobby Brown Saves Herself And This Predictable Albeit Enjoyable Fantasy Adventure

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Elodie is the eldest daughter of a humble, struggling noble family. Her father Lord Bayford (Ray Winstone) and stepmother (Angela Basset) are elated to learn that she’s been selected to marry the handsome prince Henry (Nick Robinson) at the request of his mother Queen Isabelle (Robin Wright). Her family is brought to their beautiful kingdom on a secluded island, dazzling Elodie’s younger sister Floria (Brooke Carter) with their riches. As Elodie prepares to marry Henry, she learns of the kingdom’s dark history, whereupon colonizing the island, a fire-breathing dragon ascended upon the new village and a king sacrificed his three daughters for a harmonious coexistence.

Now, to honor that sacrifice, the royal family makes a blood pact with young women and offers them up to the dragon with every new generation. The casting of Robin Wright as the evil queen is a bit of brilliantly twisted meta-casting because the kindhearted Princess Buttercup of “The Princess and the Bride” fame is nowhere to be found, and she revels in her delicious villainy.

And yet this is the information one could glean from the trailer … and also the first 30 minutes of the film.

Pacing is undoubtedly the greatest weakness in “Damsel,” a film that takes too long to get started when everyone watching already knows where things are heading. When dealing with fairytale stories, even if subverting them, there’s an inherent knowledge baked into the audiences watching at home. This is the princess vs. the dragon story equivalent of people in zombie movies acting confused about what to do for the first half hour while everyone watching screams “SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD” at the screen. Fortunately, when Elodie is finally tossed into the dragon’s pit, “Damsel” kicks things into gear and Millie Bobby Brown essentially carries the rest of the film on her own. It would make for a fantastic double feature with the Joey King-starring Hulu film “The Princess,” which I suspect was a motivating factor for giving “Damsel” the green light in the first place.

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