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We open on an idyllic kingdom, where Prince Derek and Princess Odette are living happily ever after with their friends in the kingdom of Swan Lake. The lyrics of the opening song emphasize that life just couldn't be any better, a fact the whole kingdom is preparing to celebrate at a special festival.
With all this merrymaking and happiness, I couldn't help but say aloud, "Cue the bad guy," as the music ended. Well, I wasn't totally right... It was a bad girl -- the evil witch Zelda (what is it about that name?). In flashbacks, Zelda helps us try to remember the first two movies where the evil Rothbart was in charge of the Forbidden Arts with a trio of secret recipes that gave him power far beyond the kitchen. We thought Derek destroyed that classified information, but it turns out he only hid the formulas. Now Zelda wants them.
I'm being nice putting this movie into the B category. While there's little in here that will bother or disturb your children, there is also little to entertain, enlighten, or teach. At best you could argue that the film demonstrates teamwork when all the talking animal buddies help to save the day. And Derek does overcome a somewhat prideful attitude, although this factor may be too subtle for children to see without help.
But my biggest reason for expecting a better Swan Princess is because I know director Richard Rich and others at Nest Entertainment are capable of much more. These guys have been producing high quality animated religious videos for years. They and other independent children's film makers need to reconsider the cliched "good guys and bad guys" scenario. If they want to keep their swans flying, someone needs to be brave enough to jump out of the nest and spread their wings in a different direction.
The Swan Princess III is rated G: