The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale
The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale is a 2014 American computer animated film produced by Crest Animation Productions, Nest Family Entertainment, and Sony Wonder, and released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It was also the 5th film in the Swan Princess franchise.
Centuries ago, a sentient evil force known as the Forbidden Arts entered Earth from the underworld, intent on destroying all of its rivals for magical power. It learned of a legend that the Swan Princess will bring in an age of goodness, and that pure evil will not survive in her presence, but she can be defeated by a green-colored magical stone. The Forbidden Arts corrupted the legend, making it appear that the Swan Princess will bring despair and destruction instead. A group of unusually large and talking flying squirrels, called the scullions, found the legend and over the years formed a community dedicated to finding and destroying the Swan Princess. When Odette, the Swan Princess, was finally born to King William, the Forbidden Arts tried to use the sorcerer Rothbart to defeat her but failed.
In the present, Odette and Derek are pressured by Uberta to have a child, and are unaware that they're being tracked by the scullions, (two in particular, Cutter and Jojo, a pair of "Master Traper" brothers). The Forbidden Arts has joined forces with Mangler, the scullion leader, but is angered at their most recent failure. The Forbidden Arts leaves its cave to burn Odette alive, but is blocked by Odette's power and has to return to the crystal in its cave to recover. A nearby house catches fire instead, where a little girl named Alise's father is murdered. Odette and Derek bring Alise to the castle, and Odette feels a kinship with her because they both lost their fathers tragically. Although Alise refuses to speak, she slowly becomes closer to Odette and Derek, and they decide to adopt her as she has no living relatives.
The scullions attack Uberta's castle, kidnapping Alise to lure Odette and Derek away, and locking everyone else in the cellar. Odette and Derek avoid the scullions' traps but Derek is poisoned by Mangler's blow dart. A friendly scullion, whom Odette names Scully, cures Derek and explains about the fake Swan Princess legend and the Forbidden Arts, and reveals that he has been keeping the magical stone safe. The group goes to rescue Alise.
While Derek acts as a distraction, Scully sneaks into the scullion village and finds Alise in the Forbidden Arts' cave, but he is unable to rescue her. When the scullions are about to execute Derek, Odette intervenes and explains that all she wants is for her loved ones to be safe. Scully tells the scullions that the legend is a lie and the true evil is the Forbidden Arts. Mangler shoots a poison dart at Odette, which is blocked by Jojo, the younger of the two brothers from before. Odette cures him with an antidote prepared by Scully, and the tablet with the corrupted prophecy reveals the true prophecy about the Swan Princess.
At the castle, Uberta and Rogers are about to be punished by the scullions for protecting the Swan Princess, and declare their feelings for each other. Jojo and the other scullions arrive with the real prophecy tablet, proving Odette to be good, and they release Uberta and the captives. The scullion army works together with Derek, Puffin, Jean-Bob and Speed to protect the magical stone, but the Forbidden Arts manages to obtain it, gaining its power.
Odette and Scully enter the Forbidden Arts' cave to rescue Alise, and are attacked by Mangler. Scully defeats Mangler, but Odette is unable to break Alise's prison. Alise finally speaks up, telling Odette to destroy the Forbidden Arts' crystal. When Odette is unable to, Scully jumps onto the crystal, sacrificing himself to destroy the Forbidden Arts. In the ensuing explosion Alise is freed from her prison unharmed, and she calls out to Odette: "Mommy". The film ends with everyone celebrating the presentation of Princess Alise to the kingdom. A statue of Scully is erected on the castle's garden.
Why It Sucks
- This sequel basically worsened most of the problems from the Christmas movie, but takes this up to extremes, due to the various problems as listed below.
- Terrible soundtrack and song pacing since there are literally three songs back to back with barely any intermission.
- Much like the pervious film, the Maya CGI animation is extremely cheap and ugly which is once again on par with Norm of the North or Happily N'Ever After 2 to the point where the way the characters from the franchise were transferred to 3D animation (especially the new characters like the Scullions) still look ugly and uncanny, especially the lightening and rendering which somehow looks even worse than the previous film, especially compared to the first three films' hand drawn animation and even for 2014 standards.
- It's unbelievable that a 2014 CGI movie like this has such cheap animation, considering that many animated films came out the same year as this film and had animation thirty times better than this.
- Just like the Christmas movie, the flanderization of the characters from the first three films were carried over to this film.
- Princess Odette and Prince Derek (while more likeable than they were in the pervious film) became blander than they were in the Christmas film.
- Puffin is shown to be the idiot companion of the animal group, as opposed to the somewhat dimwitted but good-hearted, loyal, and (usually) brave friend.
- Jean Bob has become more of a womanizer who wants to kiss females to turn him back into a human than he was in the first three movies.
- Queen Uberta went from a good advisor and tolerant woman to just a weak old annoying woman who wants to spoil Odette and Derek’s child and later Alise.
- Lord Rogers is once again a poorly written comic relief character who is just there to make pop culture references.
- Alise, one of the new characters introduced here and a main one at that, is a typical "Mary Sue" character, as she has no flaws or weaknesses whatsoever despite having a tragic first appearance where her father being killed in a fire.
- Scully, another one of the new characters introduced here, is somewhat annoying and only serves as a major plot device to Odette and the flying squirrels, he would later become a filler character who barely served any purpose in the later sequels after this film.
- Nonsensical and inconsistent plot and writing, The Swan Princess have almost never been big on story in the first three films and even the Christmas movie (despite it's poor writing), but this is just moronic and childish, even for both the CGI Swan Princess sequel and the franchise standards for several reasons:
- An army of flying squirrels as the main antagonists and being called Scullions which is actually a term to call kitchen helpers.
- Mangler is promised the kingdom by the Forbidden Arts which is clearly a stupid idea for a villain's plan.
- The overuse of many clichés such as the "The power of love brings someone back to life" and "One song fixes everything" clichés.
- Continuity Error: In the first four films, the Forbidden Arts were a kind of magic one could learn. It is now a sentient being in this film somehow, and the thing is, while the Forbidden Arts being shown as a being rather than an art could've worked if it was simply a being made as a result of the arts rather than the arts themselves, that's not the case here. As they're simply a living being now and that's about it.
- Speaking of, it undermines the first one by implying that Rothbart spelled the Forbidden Arts' doom by turning Odette into a swan in the first place.
- Some disgusting humor which tried too hard to be funny such as one scene where Rogers repeatedly spits into Uberta's eye which can be painfully disgusting for some viewers.
- Due to the moronic and nonsensical writing, this movie had numerous plot holes that were easily noticed by many people, such as;
- Scully somehow being alive with absolutely no explanation at any point as to how he managed to survive that despite jumping off a cliff with Mangler in the pervious scene, presumably to his own death. This is properly due to the inappropriate placement scene order.
- What would an army of flying squirrels want to do with a whole kingdom when the kingdom is inhabited by humans?
- Uberta wanted a baby, but it's never really explained why Odette and Derek couldn't have a baby by that point (though it is possible that as of the third movie, it's because of Odette's status as a demon).
- It is never explained why Scully didn't believe the doctored prophecy.
- Why can't Odette and Derek take Alise to the orphanage from the pervious film rather than staying with them?
- How can a single squirrel being able to lift a human child with ease when she's too big to be carried by squirrel?
- Why can't Alise just crawl through the door with holes that are big enough and could easily escape from the flying squirrel's trap?
- Many anachronistic errors, such as the scene where Uberta brings Alise gifts, including "a real puppy, kitten, and panda bear", as you can clearly see is that many of the gifts but the actual panda bear are shown throughout the entire scene and also gives her an prince action figure, even though this is medieval Europe.
- Horrendous scene editing, especially since much like Free Birds, some scenes might've been put at very inappropriate timing, a great example is that a light-hearted scene of the kingdom singing about Alise after a very sad scene when Odette confronts the kingdom that Alise won't speak due to her father's death, and after that song, it cuts to the flying squirrel army doing a war dance and singing their song, and after that it cut to Alise having a nightmare and Odette singing to her about the events of the first film making her feel better.
- While the other films (even some of the worst ones) has some pretty good voice acting, the voice acting here is just terrible. Due to the fact that it consists of the actors either overacting with forced accents, or just sounding bored/uninterested.
- Overuse of montages from the first film that randomly happens such as the scene where Sir Rothbart turning Odette into a swan in a painting and Odette being flying away by the Great Animal, far away from King William, but those scenes were animated in cheaply made CGI animation.
- As you can see closely, is that instead of transferring King William’s 2D design to CGI, they reused Lord Roger’s CGI model for King William with the latter’s clothes in design.
- Laughably badly made DVD/Blu-Ray cover as you can clearly see that the lighting on the in-movie models of Puffin, Jean Bob and Scully are poorly clash with the lightly colored picture of Odette holding Alise and Speed's pose being reused from the Swan Princess Christmas' DVD cover minus the rotate flip and Santa hat.
- Some characters from the first three films like Bridget and Speed aren't flanderized like the other CGI sequels and remand likable.
- The backgrounds looks very nice which is surprising, considering that the animation was very cheap.
- The squirrel with an eyepatch actually makes some decent jokes.
The film currently holds a 3.8/10 on IMDb, and 52% of audiences liking the film on Rotten Tomatoes.
- The film was theatrically released in China and Taiwan, where it bombed horribly.
- Richard Rich never wanted to make this movie, seeing as how badly the last movie did.