The Princess Parent Guide
Who knew that non-stop slaughter could get so boring so quickly?
Parent Movie Review
Ah, princess movies. Flowing tresses, frilly dresses, rainbows, unicorns, and love, sweet love, all wrapped up with a happily ever after ending.
The Princess opens with the titular royal, clad in white satin, apparently asleep in a tower bedroom…but her hands are manacled and chained together and she is only feigning sleep. It turns out that the unnamed princess (Joey King) refused to wed the psychopathic Prince Julius (Dominic Cooper) and in revenge, he attacked the kingdom, took the royal family captive, and now insists on marrying the unwilling princess. What he doesn’t know is that the young woman has spent years training in combat and is determined to put up a fight.
And fight she does. In fact, this film is nothing more than 93 minutes of non-stop fight scenes, stitched together with brief flashbacks, even briefer exposition, and thin filaments of plot. The fight scenes are notable for only two things: their brutality and their mediocrity. I didn’t even try to keep a body count as people were killed by being stabbed (one through the eye), impaled, shot with arrows, thrown from heights, strangled, and even burned to death. The filmmakers clearly spent time dreaming up novel ways to kill people – although the whip with a switchblade tip fails to be convincing. (That said, there’s a certain karmic justice to the scene where a man is stabbed with his own horned helmet.)
Despite the non-stop carnage, the fight scenes are unimpressive. The choreography is monotonous and the fast cuts which try to disguise the scenes’ weaknesses fail to do so. John Wick this ain’t, and you might be surprised at how deadly dull all this slaughter can become. In fact, movies like this are the reason my favorite jeans are too tight: every half hour or so I have to bribe myself with junk food just to stay in my seat and keep watching. Salted caramel ice cream? Check. Salted caramel chocolate bar? Check. Taco chips? Check. It’s a good thing this movie doesn’t have a longer run time or my jeans would never fit again.
It’s obvious that The Princess is trying to make some very un-subtle social commentary. Julius insists that the kingdom needs to be led by a strong, aggressive leader; not the current king, who’s known for diplomacy. In fact, he condemns the king for respecting female agency (not forcing his daughter to marry) and being racially tolerant (allowing diverse immigration). The overarching message, however, is incandescent female rage over the denial of women’s autonomy. The princess was frustrated when her father wouldn’t make her the heir or allow her to train as a knight. Now, with the specter of a forced marriage hanging over her head and the constant threat of sexual violence from Julius’s troops, her determination to take control of her own fate and kill anyone who harms her is accompanied by blinding fury. While this might be a message that some women will sympathize with, I guarantee that the overwhelming majority of parents will not consider The Princess suitable for their teens. This is an angry, violent movie and the only interesting question it leaves behind is how on earth it wound up in Disney’s portfolio. It’s streaming on Hulu domestically, but in Canada and Latin America, it will be available on the Star section of Disney+ where it will co-exist uneasily with the darling damsels of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White.Directed by Le-Van Kiet. Starring Joey King, Dominic Cooper, and Ivo Arakov. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release July 1, 2022. Updated July 9, 2022
Watch the trailer for The Princess
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Princess rated R? The Princess is rated R by the MPAA for strong/bloody violence and some language.
Violence: A woman is seen with her wrists chained and lying in a bed. A woman headbutts a man. A woman strikes a man with a chain: blood spurts from his face. There are repeated scenes of personal combat involving punching, kicking and shoving. A man is stabbed through the eye and dies. A man is stabbed with a horned helmet. Combat happens with knives, swords, and other bladed weapons. People are struck with blunt objects. A man is pushed from a height and is seen falling to his death. A woman is seen with bloody wrists after removing manacles. A person wields a whip and wraps it around a man’s neck. A woman is grabbed by the throat and held above the ground. People are shot and killed with a crossbow. There are flashback scenes where a child and later young adult is trained to fight. A man talks about cutting someone’s throat. A person is killed by being burned to death and then falling to his death. A woman tears a man’s throat open with a bladed whip; he falls over and apparently dies. People fall/jump from heights. A main character is stabbed in the torso. Men tussle with a woman; sexual violence is implied. A person is nearly hanged with a whip and another person actually is. A main character is knocked unconscious. A woman bites a man who then slaps her. A man threatens to cut out a person’s tongue. A man repeatedly runs a sword across a woman’s throat. A man’s throat is cut and his head falls to the ground: there is significant blood and injury detail.
Sexual Content: There is frequent innuendo in the context of potential sexual violence. A man and woman kiss while making passionate noises. A man tries to force a woman to marry him. A man tries to marry a child against her will.
Profanity: The script features a sexual expletive, a term of deity and a minor expletive. A crude term for women is used twice and a woman is called a “harlot”. A vulgar term for female genitals is cut off before the speaker can finish.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A woman is drugged with an inhalant against her will. Soldiers drink wine.
Page last updated July 9, 2022
The Princess Parents' Guide
The princess blames herself because she believes that if she had married Julian, he wouldn’t have attacked the kingdom. Do you think that’s accurate? Do you think he would have seized the crown if she’d married him? Do you think she was right or wrong to have refused the marriage?
The king was widely respected as a diplomat. But to what extent does diplomacy require force to back it up? In describing his foreign policy, President Theodore Roosevelt said that the America should “speak softly and carry a big stick”. Do you think the outcome in this kingdom would have been different if the king had been as well trained as the princess or if his military had been more robust?
What do you think are the overarching themes of the movie? Do you think they are relevant to current events? Do you agree with the filmmakers’ perspectives?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
If your teen/tween loves strong princess figures but you don’t want them to wallow in blood and gore, there are plenty of books that feature strong royal women – any of which would have made a better movie than The Princess.
In Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl, Princess Anidori is heading off to the neighboring kingdom of Bayern for an arranged marriage. But treason breaks out in the ranks, and soon Ani must protect herself and then save her kingdom.
Princess Benevolence is not a regular princess: she loves food and disdains etiquette lessons. She also practices magic on the sly, which comes in handy when the Queen wants to betroth her to the heir of a neighboring kingdom. Catherine Gilbert Murdock tells her tale in Princess Ben.
Harper lives in Washington DC, until she is abruptly snatched off to the fairytale kingdom of Emberfall, in the hopes that she will fall in love with Prince Rhen and break a terrible curse. In A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer weaves a haunting retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
Princess Lia is stubbornly determined not to marry a prince she has never met. Running away, she starts a new life in a remote village – only to have intrigue find her. The Kiss of Deception is the first book in Mary E Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles.
Not all princesses live glamorous lives. Princess Iona of Wessett has been terrorized lifelong by her sadistic older sister, Lisenn. When a marriage is arranged for Lisenn, Iona finally hopes for freedom. Kate Stradling tells her heart-stopping story in The Heir and the Spare.
In A Thousand Nights, E.K. Johnston tells the story of a brave village girl, who marries a murderous king to save her half-sister from the deadly fate. This retelling of A Thousand and One Nights is evocative and mesmerizing.
When brave Princess Meryl becomes deathly ill, shy Princess Addie must abandon her safe existence and set off on a quest to save her sister. Told by master storyteller Gail Carson Levine, The Two Princesses of Bamarre is a story of courage and personal growth.
On her 16th birthday, Sinda learns that she’s not the real princess – just a stand-in to protect the true-born royal. In Elis O’Neal’s The False Princess, Sinda goes to live in a distant village, only to discover some terrifying truths about her kingdom.
Related home video titles:
In Raya and the Last Dragon, a princess blames herself for an attack on the kingdom that left her father turned to stone. She embarks on a quest for a dragon whose magical powers can save her father and their kingdom.
Merida is a rebellious Scottish princess who has inadvertently turned her mother into a bear. In Brave, she must find a way to reverse the spell.
Marie-Joseph is the illegitimate daughter of King Louis XIV of France. Learning that he’s trying to harvest the life force of a captive mermaid she’s befriended, Marie-Joseph sets out to change his mind in The King’s Daughter.
Maleficent tells the story of a fairy princess who’s betrayed by a human male, determined to rise in his kingdom. This revenge movie is an allegory of sexual assault, but can be watched by younger audiences who will be unaware of the subtext.
The pen is mightier than the sword and in Moxie, an angry teenager expresses her feelings over structural misogyny in a zine she distributes covertly at high school. In a real life story, women at Fox News expose years of sexual harassment in Bombshell.