Animated films featuring princesses, princes and danger have been around almost as long as film itself. Something about these types of stories has captured the imagination of young people, mostly young girls, for generations. Disney does it the best with its tales of Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and others. Some have done it decently while others have just created pale comparisons. Unfortunately for young girls with their hopes up, The Swan Princess falls into the latter category.
A big part of animation is the way it looks. If not clear and eye-catching then it is akin to watching a live action film that is out of focus. Bad animation detracts and this is what we have here. Though this version of The Swan Princess has improved the animation level from previous films it is still not up to snuff.
Though veteran animation director Richard Rich (The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron) does what he can with what he has been given it is obvious shortly in that even his skill cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The story, despite its potential, is rather awkward with the dialogue between the characters even more so. Using the age old story of good versus evil they have gone on from there to muck it up rather badly. I’m not even sure that the devotion of young girls towards princesses and stories about them will save the day for this one.
Odette (voiced by Elle Deets) and Derek (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) are like many young married couples. They are still in the honeymoon glow and loving life. Because they have not had a child yet their relatives remain eternally on baby watch. One relative takes it a little further though. Derek’s mother, Queen Uberta (voiced by Jennifer Miller)….oh, did I forget to mention that Odette is a princess and Derek is a prince? Sorry…anyways…Queen Uberta wants a grandchild. So much so that she is not above pretending she is dying to guilt them into pregnancy. Odette and Derek want to become parents but are in no hurry to have a child. They say that fate has a funny way of giving you exactly what you need when you need it and with Odette and Derek it is no different.
An evil force called the Forbidden Arts (voiced by David Lodge) has entered Earth from the underworld. It is intent on becoming ruler of the world using its dark forces. Things change when it discovers a prophecy foretelling of a Swan Princess that will destroy all evil and bring on a time of goodness to the world. Not about to let that happen, the Forbidden Arts alters the prophecy which has been written on a tablet and gains the trust of the scullions, a type of flying squirrel. Those squirrels have vowed that once the Swan Princess reveals herself that they will kill her thus allow the Forbidden Arts to rule completely.
While helping an injured man deliver his wood Odette and Derek witness a tragedy. The family’s home catches fire and the father perishes. His daughter Alise (voiced by Carly G. Fogelson) is the sole survivor and now is alone in the world. Odette and Derek take her in. After spending a little time with the withdrawn girl they decide to adopt her. Queen Uberta finally has a grandchild.
The scullions have come up with a plan. They kidnap Alise in order to draw out Odette, who they now know is the Swan Princess. It is now up to the Prince and Princess to go up against the scullions and the evil force in order to save their new daughter, Alise, and in the long run all of humanity.
Special Features: Sing-Alongs, Previews of The Swan Princess Christmas, The Swan Princess Collection, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Adventures in Zambezia, Angry Birds Toons: Season 1 – Volume 1, Digital Copy