Damsel Review – IGN

Not Your Typical Damsel in Distress Story

Princess Elodie (Millie Bobby Brown) sets the tone early in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s dark fantasy film, Damsel, by debunking the typical heroic knight saves the damsel in distress narrative. However, despite its attempts at subversion, the film falls short, feeling like a mash-up of better female-led stories.

The story kicks off with Elodie’s hand in marriage being offered to a prince from a distant land to save her father’s kingdom. The eerie setting and questionable motives of the characters immediately set a foreboding tone. As the plot unfolds, Elodie finds herself in a sacrificial ceremony, ultimately leading her to confront a menacing dragon in a cave.

A Mixed Bag of Performances

The initial portion of Damsel feels like a slow burn, with some actors struggling to find the right tone for their characters. Only Robin Wright manages to strike the right balance, exuding a captivating wickedness. Once the story transitions into a full-blown adventure, the pace picks up, albeit with some shortcomings in filming dark scenes. Shohreh Aghdashloo’s portrayal of the dragon’s voice stands out, despite lackluster CGI effects.

On the flip side, Millie Bobby Brown’s performance falters as the film progresses, veering into excessive screaming and physicality. Her character’s transformation from eloquence to action is hindered by distracting costume choices, detracting from the empowerment narrative the film attempts to convey.

Missed Opportunities and Hollow Themes

While Damsel hints at deeper themes of colonization and female empowerment, it fails to fully explore these concepts, leaving them undeveloped. The film’s attempts at diversity feel superficial and lack substance, underscoring the overall shallow storytelling.