Hello, Spongey here.
I don’t think I’ve done an “older” film in a little bit. And by older I mean a movie not from the 2000’s. So let’s fix that with a random movie I found!
Today’s film happens to be a direct to video sequel to a mildly popular film. A film that no one really needed a sequel to, but it got one anyway. Nothing too out of ordinary so far.
The film this is a sequel is, of course, 1994’s The Swan Princess. That animated film was part of a trend where animation studios decided to rip off Disney instead of doing anything interesting or now. But while a lot of these movies just feel into obscurity, this one was actually popular.
While it did bomb upon release, and it got mixed reviews, it was still popular to spawn several sequels and receive a fan base. The reaction is still mixed to this day, with some seeing it as one of the great non-Disney Animated Sequels, with others seeing it as a soulless Disney Cash in.
For this review, I naturally had to watch the first one and what did I think of it? …It alight. It was reasonably entertaining with good animation, a few decent songs, and couple likable characters. The main problem is that, yeah, it cribs a bit too much from Disney. It has a lot of the stuff we’ve seen before without a lot of variation. They tease something at the start but they just kind of forget about it.
But it does have a lot of heart and it’s tolerable enough, I suppose. I think there was room for a sequel that could improve on it. …Then it went Direct to Video and I lost hope. But hey, you never know. I hear it’s not that good but maybe I’ll like it.
I have seen one bit from it and …well it’s interesting, but we’ll get to that. We have the same director and writers, but a different cast (save for the voices of Odette and Puffin) which is always a good sign. You might be aware of the director: Richard Rich.
He worked at Disney directing the classic Fox and The Hound…and the not so classic Black Cauldron. He jumped ship and made some of his own movies which are hit or miss with people. He’s got Swan Princess…and The King and I. And Alpha and Omega…and its sequels.
Okay, mostly miss. But hey, we can’t hold that against him. Let’s just get into this sequel and see how it is.
This, is The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain
…Or Secret of the Castle, as Netflix likes to call it.
The movie opens in the woods, as some evil looking guy is setting up a bunch of traps. We then cut to back to the Kingdom of Insert Name here, is it is Odette and Derek’s Wedding anniversary.
Derek is late because of course he is. He’s busy doing important Castle stuff. Whose willing to bet he will be super late and that’s how our main conflict will start?
He is indeed late and he can’t make it for dinner because he must take care of a fire that was started over in the woods. Because no one else can take out forest fires, I guess.
He has the comedic sidekicks from the first one (French Stereotype, Sad turtle, and Puffin dude) try to stop that evil looking guy from getting away. But they suck at their jobs, so he ends up setting off those traps.
Thankfully, he is able to escape with his life, and the evil looking guy runs away.
“Don’t tell anyone, especially Odette. I don’t want her to worry”
Because that always turns out well.
He makes it back to his wife and it turns out he forget the anniversary. Oh sorry, I thought this was a fairy tale, not a sitcom.
“You’ve been busy”
“Yeah but that’s not excuse”
Whoa, he admits his mistake? Good on him!
“I’m gonna do better”
He’s not gonna do better.
The evil looking guy returns to the not at all suspicious looking lair of his master, Clavius. Through his ramblings to himself, we find out he is the partner of Rothbart, the villain from the first movie.
Rothbart betrayed him and drove him underground, hence why he was nowhere to be seen before. That and the writers had no idea they would be doing a sequel. He sent his minion to kill Derick so he can get some McGuffin from the Castle, but as we saw, he fails to do that. Also, his name is Knuckles.
Insert obvious joke here.
Clavius isn’t happy to hear this news and in true Swan Princess tradition, our villain has to over the top in a weird but awesome way. After his “THE WORLD WILL BE MINE” speech, we cut to the next day as Derick and some of his pals are trying to figure out exactly what is going on with this Knuckles guy.
He’s so deep into this that he calls of a picnic he set up to make up for forgetting the anniversary. And I sort of called it. You know, catching a guy who could post a threat to the kingdom is slightly more important than your dull love stuff …But it was a wedding anniversary so…meh.
Also, his Mom’s Birthday is tomorrow and he can’t do anything for it because of all this. Okay, now I’m on Odette’s side. You can set aside this stuff for a day to celebrate your Mother’s birthday, dude.
This prompts Odette to sing our first song, which is just her being sad about how Derick is busy and stuff. It’s pretty dull and forgettable. Moving on.
The next day, Uberta, the Mom, goes up in a hot air balloon to get to the Castle for her Birthday party. But it turns out to be a trap set up by Clavuis. Dun dun dun, I guess. Uberta whines like a bitch to him all the way to his lair, which annoys him. Which is kind of funny. I mean, you gotta love that this evil guy and his henchman are being intimidated by some prince’s mother.
They capture her anyway and they send Derrick a message, telling him about what happened. Derrick heads out to rescue her, which Jean Bob thinks is a bad idea.
So he sings about it. Yeah, it’s called “That’s what you do for a friend” so you can guess what it’s about. It’s pretty tolerable, but nothing too special.
“Cute. Catchy. Didn’t work”
Who asked you.
While Derick is out, Clavuis sneaks into castle and meets Odette. I’d ask how he snuck out without anyone noticing but…he’s a wizard so there you go.
He tells her about what he’s looking for, and about how Derick is walking into a trap.
Conveniently, Rothbart’s minion from the first one is a good guy who works for Oddete, and she knows where the forbidden arts are, so after overhearing this, she heads down to get them before the bad guy can.
Yeah, I didn’t mention the “her being a good guy” now thing cuz…the movie didn’t exactly introduce it very well. Also, she can talk more now.
They go through a few secret passages and find the forbidden arts. They take the orb so when Clavius comes down, he shouts NOOOO like he’s Darth Vader. They head back to Odette and now they must warn Derrick.
Puffin can’t fly so Odette asks Bridgit to turn her into a swan. …Cuz they don’t want the title to be a lie?
She gets her wish pretty quickly and she heads out. Clavius pops to take the orb which leads to a chase scene set to No fear, for some reason. This scene is so wacky that I wonder if I have the right movie on.
…But some of it is pretty funny, to be honest.
Derrick is on his epic journey, plowing through a bunch of traps when he is finally done in by some quicksand. Thankfully, a Swan is strong enough to get him out of there.
Odette takes him back to the castle while Clavius finds the location of the orb because animal sidekicks suck at hiding things.
He takes it easily and escapes in his hot air balloon, but our animal sidekicks manage to stow away. Man, things gets temporarily resolved really quickly in this movie.
Calvius heads back to Ubetra and transfers the forbidden arts to him, giving him ultimate power.
“The power…to create! The power…to change! The power…to destroy!”
How does he celebrate? By singing of course! Yep, we have our villain song, called “You gotta love it”. And…well you remember how I said I saw one part of this movie before?
This was that part. I stumbled upon this song and …it’s awesome. I genuinely love this villain song. It’s basically a rock song by him gloating about him evil and awesome his powers are, and while the rock part is…weird, it’s still awesome.
The singer is clearly having a ton of fun and that’s very contagious. It’s really catchy and memorable. As far as villain songs go, it’s one of the best hidden gems in its genre. It’s not the smartest but it’s just too much fun.
I’d go as far to say it’s better than the villain song in the first one. Yes, really. Regardless of this movie is, at least it gave us this song.
“Zow, rock and roll!”
After that, Derick and Odette arrive near the entrance to this lair to rescue Derrick’s mommy. Derrick gets into a final battle with Knuckles and when the baddie ends up dangling over a cliff, Derrick saves him because he’s nice.
…Then Knuckles puts Derrick in the same position. That’s both cool and stupid.
It doesn’t really because of course he gets out easily with Odette’s help. Meanwhile, Clavius has had enough of Uberta’s shit but he can’t shut up her no matter what he does. No, he doesn’t try killing her because that would imply he’s smart.
And just when he is about to do something, Derrick comes in to battle him. The fight itself is actually pretty cool thanks to Clavius powers.
Eventually, Derrick gets the orb and starts to escape. Clavius puts up a good fight but the orb is eventually destroyed by simply falling from a great high.
The forbidden arts is pretty weak, I gotta say. Also, he already took the powers so why does it even matter?
This causes the lair to start blowing up and our heroes escape. Odette is still a Swan but they will find a way to change her back. Wait, didn’t Bridget turn her into a Swan? Can’t she just…change her back? Or did I miss something?
Oh, and Jean Bob died. I didn’t mention that cuz I thought it was a Disney Death…but nope he’s dead. That…sucks since he was the best of the sidekicks but he did get annoying sometimes, so I don’t care.
He and Odette are taken to the light, in the hopes that the moon will turn her back into a human like it did in the first movie.
Spoilers, it works. Yay, I guess.
But on top of turning her back to normal, it brings Jean Bob back to life. …Because moonbeams do EVERYTHING now. Oh, and he starts making bad jokes which kind of cheapens the moment.
Either way, everything is back to normal and everyone celebrates. Later, our “lovely’ couple finally has their picnic and while Derrick goes have business, he chooses Odette this time.
Oh yeah, that was a plot point. Glad it was so important and was resolved incredibly well.
They kiss and…roll credits. Yeah, it’s a cheapquel so of course it has an abrupt ending. By the way, this movie is only 1 hour and 6 minutes. Pretty short which is…good for me I guess.
Might as well just continue listening to the credits…and there’s a a rap version of No Fear.
Don’t expect a huge summary here cuz I don’t have a lot to say. This was pretty…meh. Given that it is a cheap sequel to a movie that wasn’t that great, I thought it would terrible. But it’s just…meh.
It’s not even memorable. It’s bearable but there’s nothing here besides that awesome song that makes it really worth watching. It’s just really bland and forgettable. But at least it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
There’s not much of a point of going into the story or characters since there really isn’t anything to say. As a sequel, it doesn’t really add anything in terms of development or anything like that.
The story is pretty basic which isn’t bad but isn’t really anything special either. They have that stuff with Derrick being busy but it was weak and they resolved very quickly at the end. Lame.
The characters are pretty much the same, except even less interesting. The writing fumble when it comes to the Derrick/Odette I mentioned means they don’t have too much going on. Derrick has some badass moments but that’s really about it.
The Comedy sidekicks are sometimes funny, and sometimes annoy. So yeah, they are the same. The villain was pretty entertaining but nothing too specials. The songs were just there, except for the villain song, which is amazing.
The animation is average. It’s a downgrade in that typical Direct to Video fashion. There’s a number of mistakes but its passable overall.
…See what I mean? I’m not getting a lot to go off here. I’m sure other people can find reasons to find it genuinely bad but I just found it very …meh. It’s a typical cash grab sequel that has no real reason to exist.
It has some enjoyable moments and like I said, it is bearable, but it’s not really worth watching. It’s…meh. It doesn’t ruin the original movie for me, if that helps.
And there’s at least 3 more of these things. Yay.
Not much to say here. It’s a very meh movie. Give it a shot if it sounds good, but stay away if you are expecting anything great…or memorable.
Hopefully our next one is more notable. …Oh, the latest Tinkerbell movie came out on Netflix the other day?
Yeah, that’ll do.