Dec 21, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure (1998)

I'm glad that Richard Rich at least had the decency to release this second sequel to The Swan Princess direct-to-video. Releasing The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain theatrically was a big mistake, even if it was quickly corrected. Like TSP:EfCM, The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure belongs nowhere else but in a bargain bin.

Funny how these sequels don't have a numerical designator right? It's not the first series to do it, but I'm pretty sure that this is done to make people think this isn't necessarily a sequel. That way, anyone can watch it if they want to even if they haven't seen the original. Also, the title is totally bogus anyway since there is no "enchanted treasure" in this movie. At least Escape from Castle Mountain had a mountain/volcano that doubled as a castle.

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Genre: animation, family, fantasy
Directed by: Richard Rich
Produced by: Richard Rich, Jared F. Brown, Jim Haas
Written by: Brian Nissen, Richard Rich
Music by: Lex de Azevedo
Running time: 71 minutes
Production company: Nest Family Entertainment
Distributed by: Columbia TriStar Home Video, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Michelle Nicastro, Brian Nissen, Katja Zoch, Joseph Medrano, Christy Landers, Donald Sage Mackay, Doug Stone, Steve Vinovich, Paul Masonson, Owen Miller, Sean Wright

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Synopsis


Derek (voice: Brian Nissen) and Odette (voice: Michelle Nicastro) are preparing for Festival Days which will feature all sorts of fun activities for the inhabitants of their kingdom. Not too far away however, an old partner of Rothbart (voice: Sean Wright) is making her own preparations. Zelda (voice: Katja Zoch) helped create the forbidden arts with Rothbart before she was cut out of the picture, much to her chagrin. All she needs now to take over are the old notes of Rothbart's which she suspects are being kept in Derek and Odette's castle and then she'll be able to re-create the forbidden arts and take over the kingdom.

Review


Richard Rich has once again brightened and softened everything in terms of the animation design in The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure. At least it seems that way because one of the songs features some flashbacks of the original The Swan Princess. It's a dumb move if you ask me because all it does is highlight how different looking both movies are and how much worse TSP:TMotET really is animation-wise. 

Although I wasn't necessarily expecting award-winning storytelling, Brian Nissen and Richard Rich really didn't try very hard. Truth be told, the story is practically a perfect rehash of The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain. You have an old ally of Rothbart for a villain as usual and Odette inevitably is kidnapped and turned into a swan. Even in a magical kingdom, I don't think there are very many people who are transformed into a swan more than once in their lives.

It's especially the kidnapping of Odette that irks me though. Does Odette really have to be so weak and helpless? It's the kind of story that was OK during the early days of Disney, but doesn't have much of a place in 2014 anymore. This was 1998 which isn't too bad I suppose, but this is the third movie in a series. It's time for a little growth now no? Nissen and Rich had every reason to come up with something new, but they didn't bother. 

The story is pretty non-existent anyway, with way too much of a focus on sideshow comedy. Funny how humour is in such short supply. Animals with different accents aren't funny and neither is the annoying Queen Uberta (voice: Christy Landers) who thankfully has less screen time compared to Escape from Castle Mountain. There are a multitude of other characters who are meant to bring on the laughs, but Nissen and Rich don't seem to be able to write a single worthwhile joke for anybody. I guess Nissen was too busy focusing on his new role as the voice of Derek.

Zelda the villain is hardly even worth mention. The amount of times she cackles is incredible I guess. She's not threatening and she doesn't have any sort of villainous charm either. She has nothing and I really didn't think things could get much worse than Clavius from Escape from Castle Mountain. Even Rothbart from the first movie is pretty weak, but I wish he had come back from the dead or something for this movie.

Like its predecessor, The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure feels longer than it's 71 minutes. You can only be so patient when it comes to lame dialogue and lyrics you know. It was a real test of my patience, but definitely the most frustrating thing about this film is the fact that the story is a complete rehash of what we've already seen in the two previous films. Because of that, TSP:TMotET is well deserving of its lower score than TSP: EfCM.

Rating


3.5/10