“The King’s Daughter” is a very strange mess of a movie. Dumped into theaters by the studio at the most quiet time of the year, this swashbuckling debacle is a forgettable fantasy adventure.
The most powerful ruler on the planet, Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan) is obsessed with the idea of immortality and the future of France. With spiritual advisor and best friend Père La Chaise (William Hurt) by his side, the “Sun King” (as Louis likes to be called) works with the royal physician to find the secret to staying alive forever.
When a group of sailors capture a mermaid, the team of very important men plan to kill and harvest her heart, which they believe holds a life-giving force. It’s only when the King’s orphaned offspring Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) returns to Versailles that a wrinkle arises in his plans, as his defiant daughter makes it her mission to rescue the captive mermaid.
The screenplay (based on the novel “The Moon and the Sun” by Vonda N. McIntyre) has a similar quality to generic lonely heart fan fiction that populates the internet. A hunky pirate-like sailor (Benjamin Walker) sweeping a girl off her feet and coming to the rescue of a mystical mermaid has all the necessary fundamentals for a C-grade romance novel, but the love story is somehow the weakest link in an already flimsy movie. Everything that you think will happen does, and I suppose there’s a slight sense of satisfaction in that.
The special effects are laughable, the mermaid has a plastic looking face that’s terrifying, and the acting ranges from clunky (Scodelario) to an over extravagant abomination (Hurt and Brosnan). I did enjoy the comically hammy performances from the film’s male stars, in spite of myself.
Overall this is an unremarkable film without much substance, but if you’re a fan of fantasy fables that belong in a RedBox kiosk, you may find it comforting to know that you could do only slightly worse than “The King’s Daughter.”