It has been twenty-five years since Pocket Books Publishing released author Vonda N. McIntyre's novel, The Moon and the Sun. The story was set in 17th century France during the time of King Louis XIV's reign and told the tale of a mythical creature who could give immortality to anyone who consumed its flesh. Depicted as a mermaid, it was said the King imprisoned the creature hoping to live forever. Seventeen years later, principal photography began on a film adaptation of the novel. However, it took another seven years for the movie to be released in theaters. That adaptation, called The King's Daughter, is now available for purchase on Blu-ray.
Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scoldelario; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) grew up in a convent, having never known her parents. A "wild child" who disobeyed most of the nun's rules, they were happy when the King's (Pierce Brosnan; Goldeneye) spiritual advisor, Father François La Chaise (William Hurt; A History of Violence), came and took Marie-Josèphe to the palace. As the new court composer, she quickly wins over the King, while befriending a mermaid (Bingbing Fan; X-Men: Days of Future Past) held captive by the King. However, the more time Marie- Josèphe spends in court, the more she learns things are not always what they seem.
The cast is made up of solid, veteran actors. Brosnan, while usually very good, is unconvincing as an evil, selfish, villain or conversely, as a repentant, remorseful man who sees the error of his ways. Scoldelario reprises a character we have seen her portray before. She is strong-willed, independent, and educated during a time when women were not allowed to be any of those things. Hurt, as the elder statesman and the voice of reason, reminds us that a truly talented man was lost when he passed only one month ago.
The Blu-ray offers some excellent visuals and the 1080p resolution brings all of it into sharp focus. With clean lines, sharp colors, and breathtaking vistas, the overview shots are a cinematographer's dream. The visual effects, especially the ones used for the mermaid are well done and tend to seem "normal" instead of unique, scary, and out of place.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is solid without offering much in the way of depth, especially with the mermaid's song. The "siren's" tune seems rather thin without much layering. Surround sound effects aren't bad with gunshots and horses' gallops reverberating throughout the room. The mix is less than stellar as dialogue is sometimes drowned out by the soundtrack and the effects.
Another area lacking on this set is the extras. There are only two included and they encompass all of ten minutes of disc space. They include one, rather embarrassing (at least for Brosnan) deleted scene which can be skipped, and the slightly more entertaining 9-minute cast reflections that may have been one of the last things recorded by Hurt.
What started out as an interesting concept, became a lackluster script with some predictable yet awful dialogue. Brosnan utters more than one cringe-worthy line which, matched with his terrible wig of long hair, would be laughable if it wasn't so pitiful. The costumes, conversely, are magnificent but wildly out of place in 17th century France. It is difficult to imagine that is what McIntyre envisioned when her novel was published twenty-five years ago.
I can only assume the film was packed away for seven years for at least one reason and viewing the Blu-ray (no DVD is included in the set) it becomes painfully obvious the screenplay isn't terribly well written.
For a sci-fi, fantasy movie, The King's Daughter has some good moments but not enough to make it an excellent film.