Save Yourself: Our Review of ‘Damsel’ on Netflix

Posted in What's Streaming? by - March 08, 2024
Save Yourself: Our Review of ‘Damsel’ on Netflix

Elodie Bayford (Millie Bobby Brown) is a firstborn lady in some wintry land who finds herself in a fairy tale. She and her family (including Ray Winstone and Angela Bassett) travel to a summery kingdom to become a Prince’s wife. Thankfully, she and the Prince (Nick Robinson) have a thing in common – they both want to explore the world. She thinks that’s enough for a happy marriage until the wedding day comes, which involves some weird blood sharing ritual. It also involves the prince throwing her into a pit that’s also the lair of a Dragon (Shohreh Aghdashloo). Escaping the pit and its ecosystem of caves is paramount, but not before she learns a backstory that resembles her own.

Elodie’s 180 turn of bad luck is the premise of this Netflix film that Brown both serves as a producer and star. The film also comes from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who has a mix of high concept films and money jobs. This falls under the latter, but there’s ways to salvage films like this in one way or another. To give credit where it’s due, at least there’s some visual dynamism in this film that mostly takes place in caves. For every shot where we can barely see what’s going on, there’s another where the fire lights things up. If anything, Damsel proves that putting dragons in a film may save it, but only to a certain extent. 

One of the things that almost makes Damsel good is the Dragon, if only for Shohreh Aghdashloo’s incredible voice work. Her efforts, though, feel too high in comparison to some of the actors around her, even the ones with experience. Robin Wright plays the Aurean Queen who tells the Dragon’s backstory. Her line deliveries reflect the fact that she’s not getting royalties from this. But back to the Dragon. Yes, she is setting her story straight to let Elodie know that the Queen lied to her. A kingdom that lies to legitimise itself in a land they stole sounds familiar. As I write this though, the decision to give the Dragon a back story is understandable because of its intended meaning.

The Dragon having a back story, though, also makes it too corny for viewers of Damsel to take it seriously. As well, tropes often comprise films, yes, but as a ‘critic’, it’s also my job to point out if they’re too noticeable. Of course, the film gets to the part where Elodie and the Dragon start to hear each other out. But of course, the Dragon is too full of rage to see what the Aureans do to trick the both of them. Will it matter if the Dragon finds out, or is it worth it trying to rehabilitate her? I’m not as mad at this film as the star rating suggests, but it reflects my investment towards it.

Watch Damsel on Netflix.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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