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Damsel

Damsel

Directed by the man behind 28 Weeks Later, Netflix's latest matinee adventure sees tough princess Elodie save herself from a frightening dragon.

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Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo made one of my favourite films: 28 Weeks Later. One of the best sequels of all time and one of the best zombie flicks I've ever experienced. In other words, the man knows what he's doing, and it shows in the Netflix adventure Damsel, where Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown finds herself in some serious trouble in a gorgeous fantasy world.

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The story is initially moulded in a very typical fairy tale template but soon turns around and offers a reverse view of the runaway princess attempting to save her own skin from danger. Because here the story works as well as the characters, and the whole premise is interesting, if hardly innovative. Elodie is the eldest daughter of a downtrodden, penniless royal family in a small, ramshackle kingdom with no name, and when the last of the money/supplies run out, the beleaguered Lord Bayford is forced to marry off his daughter to a distant land and a foreign royal family in exchange for endless riches. Once in the gold-embellished fantasy castle far, far away, everything seems a little too perfect and before she knows it, Elodie finds herself in a situation where her life is threatened by a ferocious, pissed-off, fire-breathing giant dragon.

Damsel
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) has the charm, charisma, presence and body language of a seasoned film star, but her most dramatic scenes sometimes fall a little flat.
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"Damsel in distress" has (of course) for millennia been the basis for countless (classic) fairy tales in which a fair maiden is kidnapped and must be rescued by an armoured, stately knight. In Netflix's new adventure matinee, Fresnadillo has subverted the old premise, cutting out the 'in distress' epithet and letting the runaway princess sort herself out. Because no one is coming to rescue Elodie from that dark, cold, dragon-infested cave. There will be no prince. The prince sits safely in the golden castle waiting for his next meal. Elodie goes from devastated, burnt, bloody and lost, to strong, angry and independent as the dragon chases her through the mountain, without respite. Frankly character development would have felt forced if Fresnadillo hadn't been excellent at pacing and structure, and if Fast X screenwriter Dan Mazeau hadn't written a successful adventure script that, despite some weaknesses, works really well.

Damsel
The photography, costumes, effects and production design are superb.

Damsel is good and entertaining. Elodie's battle with the dragon is nothing that I would describe as genre-defining or particularly memorable, but if I was 14 years old and looking for a well-crafted fantasy film to watch, this would have been an excellent option. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown has an overall presence and charisma befitting a full-fledged movie star despite her young age and relatively thin resume, but her acting doesn't quite work in some scenes. Her emotional expression is a tad one-sided here, just like in Enola Holmes, and in some key scenes she could have used a little help, but on the whole I can happily recommend this matinée.

The dragon and its special effects and the voice of the dragon (Shohreh Aghdashloo) are very well done in a way that few blockbusters today can match. There is an almost casual laziness in today's special effects (in many cases) that is not visible here, even though the budget is nowhere near that of The Flash, Aquaman 2 or The Marvels.

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07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
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Damsel

Damsel

MOVIE REVIEW. Written by Petter Hegevall

Directed by the man behind 28 Weeks Later, Netflix's latest matinee adventure sees tough princess Elodie save herself from a frightening dragon.



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