Dec 22, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess Christmas (2012)

Richard Rich what have you done? Is this really how far you've sunk? Forced to take an existing series and milk it into oblivion? I didn't even like The Swan Princess very much to begin with, but at least there was an attempt there at making it into a decent animated film. Followed by two very underwhelming sequels in The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain and The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure that were made to be easy cash grabs, I don't know what good can come of The Swan Princess Christmas.

Were Swan fans even clamoring for another sequel, a CGI animated sequel at that? Eighteen years separate TSP and TSPC, so I doubt fans of the original were even paying attention when it was released. Oh, maybe it's the return of James Arrington to voice Chamberlain that got people excited. Doubtful eh? Money can be the only thing at work here and I don't even think there's any to be made. Too much time has passed and I think the cash grab ship has already sailed.

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Genre: animation, adventure, fantasy
Directed by: Richard Rich
Produced by: Jared F. Brown, Richard Rich, Seldon Young
Written by: Yuri Lowenthal
Music by: Vassal Benford
Running time: 90 minutes
Production company: Crest Animation Productions, Nest Family Entertainment, Sony Pictures
Distributed by: Nest Learning, Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Elle Deets, Yuri Lowenthal, Jennifer Miller, Joseph Medrano, Sean Wright, David Lodge, Catherine Lavine, James Arrington, Summer Eguchi, Michaelangelo, Clayton James Mackay, Gardner Jaas, Doug Stone, Joey Lotsko, Brian Nissen, Maxine Blue, G.K. Bowes, Gabriela Miller

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Synopsis


Princess Odette (voice: Elle Deets) and Prince Derek (voice: Yuri Lowenthal) are on their way to stay with Derek's mother Queen Uberta (voice: Jennifer Miller) during Christmas, their first time as a married couple. Preparations are going swimmingly and Christmas is in the air. It turns out that their old enemy Rothbart (voice: Sean Wright) is still around as a ghost however and has a plan in place to return to his solid form. With the help of a cat by the name of Number 9 (voice: David Lodge), he aims to ruin Christmas for the kingdom forever.

Review


It's hard for me to figure out where to start first with this one. I described both sequels to The Swan Princess as belonging in nothing more than bargain bins. Is there something conceivably worse than bargain bins? Because if there is, that's where The Swan Princess Christmas belongs. It's not fit for human consumption. Maybe it can find takers in some secret black market run out of car trunks in some back alley where you can buy illegal weapons and such? "A DVD for your kids with your order of Glocks sir?

First of all, the animation is unbelievably bad. Everything is flat, lifeless and characters lack any kind of expression. Looking into the eyes of a character is like looking into a black hole of nothingness. When it comes to motion, you've maybe never seen choppy like this before. It's honestly like Richard Rich is playing a joke on us or something because if that's the case, it's a very good one.

So Rothbart is back is he? I wasn't the least bit surprised since Brian Nissen and Richard Rich were never able to cook up a half-decent villain after The Swan Princess. Rothbart wasn't even that great in the first place, but I guess it's sort of nice to have him back. It's just more than a little unoriginal and having him back as a ghost is eye-rollingly dumb.

A lot of the story feels paper thin, as though everything is pretty much an excuse to have a movie at all. There's no rhyme or reason for anything when it comes to Rothbart's plans or how things get resolved. All it takes is half a brain to realize this. There's also a lot of run time dedicated to the dumb Christmas preparations of the castle that feels achingly unnecessary. I really doubt even kids would want to be subjected to this kind of pointlessness.

One thing I'll say nice about The Swan Princess Christmas is regarding how it concludes. (Spoilers) Three times in a row we were subjected to Derek rescuing Odette as she was in her swan form. The same thing almost happens again, but Derek looks to have been killed by Rothbart. Due to Odette's powerful Christmas spirit which takes form in a song she sings, Rothbart is defeated and she even brings Derek back to life with her singing. Yeah, it's as stupid as it sounds but I'm glad that Lowenthal made Odette the hero this time and not Derek. It was getting old. (End Spoilers)

One of the things that got to me the most about The Swan Princess Christmas is how it tries to be modern and trendy. You want a prince snowboarding down a mountain and performing tricks? You got it. How about a talking frog who references the internet? You got it. How about modern hip hop/R&B Christmas songs being performed? You got it. A lot of these Christmas songs are even Christian, referencing Jesus and God which makes no sense at all. This is a fantasy world that exists apart from ours no? I have sincere doubts that this is somehow a Christian kingdom that also knows hip hop and auto-tune. You want more? No? OK, I'll be nice.

The Swan Princess Christmas can hardly be considered a movie at all. You know how there's real ice cream and fake ice cream which is politely called frozen dessert? I don't even know if TSPC could be considered the frozen dessert of movies. Is it entertainment even? I don't know, that's too tough of a question. I shudder to think what Richard Rich has in store for me with the next entry in The Swan Princess series: The Swan Princess V: A Royal Family Tale.

Rating


2.5/10