The original Swan Princess movie barely mustered a thumbs up rating on my Netflix, thanks mostly to its set of snappy showtunes. The Swan Princess Christmas, however, gets a hard thumbs down, several if that were possible. I would be more forgiving if it clocked in at 45 minutes, but at an hour and a half, this full length feature drains all the princess and Christmas spirit out of me.
Rothbart, the evil sorcerer killed in the first movie, is back with a vengeance, even if he doesn’t have a body to go with. He has it out for Derek, sorcerer slayer and prince hero to Odette, the erstwhile swan. The royal couple are blissfully in love and spending their first Christmas together, but all will not be merry if Rothbart gets his way. As he tells his hench-cat, the only thing more powerful than the dark arts is Christmas, so he’s going to destroy the happy holiday and…presumably get his body back?
The end game is not clear, and neither is the magic. Rothbart’s visible spirit is kept in a chest in the cellar where, it turns out, royalty also keep their Christmas decorations. Somehow his voice can still follow around Number 9, his cat, instructing the feline on the finer details of mischief-making. Only Derek can open the chest and unleash Rothbart’s spirit because dem’s the rules. Homeboy tries to make up for his mistake by rigging wind chime traps because wind chimes are like garlic and silver bullets to dead sorcerers.
While all this is brewing, folks are getting hyped about the holidays. Since Christmas Day is not celebration enough, this nameless kingdom also gets Ornament Day, essentially a glorified tree lighting ceremony. Queen Umberta is super wound up though; she’s whatever the Christmas version of a bridezilla is, and Rothbart does his best to exploit her fondness for tinsel and micromanagement.
For a movie called Swan Princess Christmas, you’d expect a little more Swan Princess for your buck. Odette supports her man, but it really seems to be Derek’s show this time around. He gets to sneak around the castle and do important stuff that will directly lead to the downfall of Rothbart while Odette gets to choreograph a song and dance number for the Christmas variety show. I mean, at least let her snowboard with her husband.
Once again the music saves the day, or at least it tries really hard to do so. Certainly the music is the best part of the movie. The songs have a teen pop quality about them, but I mean this in a complimentary Britney-Christina kind of way. The animation doesn’t serve the songs well though. The set design is done with minimal imagination, and the characters, or rather their hair, always look one step behind.
“Season of Love” (not to be confused with “Seasons of Love”:
“Season of Love” by Anna Graceman:
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”:
“Christmas is the Reason”:
Prod: Jared F. Brown, Richard Rich
Dir: Richard Rich
Writer: Yuri Lowenthal
Cast: Laura Bailey, Summer Eguchi, Yuri Lowenthal, Michaelangelo, Jennifer Miller, Joseph Medrano, Sean Wright, David Lodge, Catherine Lavine, James Arrington
Time: 83 min
Country: United States