The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Kessler Potter
A photo of a screenshot from a YouTube video titled “Why I Made Damsel | Millie Bobby Brown | Netflix.” Photo courtesy of Kessler Potter

“Damsel” Will Cause Distress for Some Viewers

Whether you watched 1990s movies on a VHS at grandma’s house or tuned in for direct-to-TV movies and shows on Disney Channel, most teens today grew up with some knowledge of Disney princesses. While there were a few outliers (Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana come to mind), many of these characters were trapped in decades-old tales where they had to be rescued by a prince.

Today, that plot is taking a different turn with Millie Bobby Brown’s recent Netflix release “Damsel.”

“Damsel” is the story of a girl, Princess Elodie (Brown), who is entered into a betrothal contract with Prince Henry (Nick Robinson), a wealthy man from the faraway country of Aurea, in order to save her struggling nation. Initially hesitant to leave the land where she was born and where her mother is buried, she joins her father (Ray Winstone), stepmother (Angela Bassett), and sister Floria (Brooke Carter) on the journey to Aurea. There she meets the prince and his mother, Queen Isabelle (Robin Wright), and fulfills her end of the deal by marrying the prince. Bit after the marriage, disaster strikes.

Apparently, Aurea is under an ancient curse that calls for sacrifices to pay off an ancient debt, so Princess Elodie is thrown into a mountain as a sacrifice, setting most of the movie’s events in motion. She must fight a dragon and escape to survive, but all she has is her wits and the armor left from previous sacrifices. The movie that follows is full of action, anticipation, and family feels, taking the viewer through caves and up mountains, all while highlighting female empowerment and self-reliance.

Even with the amazing, empowering messages pushed throughout the movie, I have mixed feelings about “Damsel.” First, I found the plot slightly predictable. Maybe it’s just because I love suspense movies, but the lack of a story-changing revelation disappointed me. The first plot twist, finding out who the actual villains are, is hinted at in the trailers and revealed within the first half of the movie. Then, there are no other major twists, only Millie Bobby Brown single-handedly fighting a dragon. While she has a few interactions with other characters while in the cave, the bulk of the scenes have her alone. Even the ending (which had a slight twist) was expected. I’m not sure if I’m used to stories with a more dynamic plot or more suspenseful scenes, but this movie rarely left me completely surprised by a character’s choice or any other so-called “revelations,” leaving it altogether predictable.

In addition, “Damsel” does not seem extremely different from other movies with strong, independent female characters. Yes, the romantic subplot is almost immediately subverted by the prince’s involvement in Elodie’s sacrifice, but that is all-too-similar to movies such as “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “The Princess,” or “Your Highness.” All of these movies subvert the expected fantasy princess trope and include a sword-wielding heroine, yet without the romance of “Ella Enchanted” or “Ever After.”

I almost feel as if the movie would have been elevated by the addition of romance. I understand the desire for a movie that shows that women can survive without men, but that’s not exactly new in films. I think a more romantic relationship between Elodie and Henry, or a longer time spent on the development of their relationship, would have increased the betrayal the audience feels when Elodie is sacrificed. As it is, the betrayal is kind of ho-hum because it was extremely foreshadowed and telegraphed that the audience should not trust this family. Had the focus been on how generous and welcoming the Aurean royal family is, then the twist would have stung more and made me more invested in the movie.

The main reason why I didn’t like this movie was the graphic depiction of blood, burns, and other violence. This movie is rated PG-13, but contains plenty of scenes with stab wounds, burns, and other graphic injuries. For someone like me, who isn’t a fan of the sight of blood, these images stayed in my mind long after the credits rolled. It’s kind of hard to think of the good parts of a movie when the only memories I have are of charred flesh and gaping wounds.

Other than those critiques, I enjoyed the movie. It was what it proclaimed to be: an hour and 45 minutes of watching Millie Bobby Brown fall victim to political plots and fight a dragon to escape certain death. While I wish that there had been a little more of the intrigue and suspense present in her previous movies (the “Enola Holmes” duology, for example), it was still worth the time I spent watching it.

Overall, I’d give Netflix’s “Damsel” a 6.5/10. It’s good, though bloody, entertainment. Don’t watch it if you easily grow squeamish or don’t like the sight of blood.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Fluco Beat Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *