'Damsel' Review: Enter the New Mother of Dragons The Nerdy Basement

‘Damsel’ Review: Enter the New Mother of Dragons

In a world where Game of Thrones exists and the fantasy genre is ever-expanding, it is quite a task to create something truly unique and original. ‘Damsel’ stars Millie Bobby Brown as Princess Elodie, the soon-to-be bride, set to marry Prince Henry (Nick Robinson) in an arranged marriage. This marriage will essentially, sell Princess Elodie to Prince Henry and his family in exchange for enough gold to save Princess Elodie’s people who are on the brink of extinction due to the harsh winter and famine due to the lack of food and resources.

While this movie is pretty straightforward in what it wants to achieve, it is also clear that this film is solely here to serve as a Millie Bobby Brown highlight reel. Not that we necessarily needed one but Netflix felt the extreme need to flex that they have fully cashed in on Millie Bobby Brown and can boast about having her lead not just ‘Stranger Things’, but also ‘Enola Holmes’, and now ‘Damsel’. It is undoubtful that Millie Bobby Brown has commanding star power and ‘Damsel’ showcases that. Without any stumbles in her steps, Brown shows that she has what it takes to carry a film on her own even if the film’s script isn’t the true selling point.

To Brown’s and the film’s detriment, however, we do have to endure more of Brown’s more static and flat line delivery which fails to fully sell the badassery in her survival journey. Her supporting cast is just there to fill the room which is quite sad given Brown’s supporting cast members. The film features the likes of Rick Robinson, Angela Bassett, and Ray Winstone and the only one here used to any real effect is Ray Winstone who portrays Elodie’s father. Angela Bassett who plays Elodie’s stepmother is quite forgettable in the role and looking at the grand scope of things, we could’ve done without her, it pains me to even say that.

'Damsel' Review: Enter the New Mother of Dragons The Nerdy Basement
Damsel. Angela Bassett as Lady Bayford in Damsel. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix ©2024

Nick Robinson as Prince Henry also falls victim to this and it is purely a script issue. On the other hand, ‘Damsel’ nails the themes of female empowerment, motherhood, and sisterhood perfectly. Looking at it in hindsight, Elodie’s journey as a whole is quite empowering and quite liberating, as we see her break from the metaphorical shackles placed on her by her father and soon-to-be mother-in-law. ‘Damsel’ does find a nice medium to hit those emotional beats in stride to truly elevate the stakes in Elodie’s quest.

I can also commend the film for highlighting the love and fidelity of a mother even its only thoroughly presented through the dragon’s plight and her quest for revenge. The film tries to prove this point through the relationship between Elodie and her stepmother, who throughout the film goes to extreme lengths to prove to her that she has her best interests at heart. Although I feel this could’ve been highlighted a bit more to fully showcase Angela Bassett’s emotional range as an actor. Sadly, she’s in a supporting role and not a co-starring role.

Outside of Millie Bobby Brown’s leading performance, the film provides some fantastic visuals, captivating set pieces (even if they are minimal), and some amazing costume designs. While the men have some alluring costume designs, it is the women of the film who have the most stunning pieces of attire throughout. This is showcased even more when meeting Prince Henry’s family who are of royal blood. This provides a clear sense of class and distinction in status between the residents of the castle and those of the outside world and it is nailed to perfection, even with some of the added VFX.

'Damsel' Review: Enter the New Mother of Dragons The Nerdy Basement
Damsel. (L-R) Brooke Carter as Floria and Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie in Damsel. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix ©2024

Setting the film in a fantastical, medieval setting, with a giant flying dragon lays the groundwork for some compelling scenes with said dragon. Even featuring some good jump scares and horror elements which makes the dragon in the film feel all the more threatening and menacing. When one thinks of dragons, depending on your enjoyment of media, you may either think of ‘Eragon’ or ‘Game of Thrones’, if you venture off into animation, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ may come to mind. But ‘Damsel’ leans more into the ‘Game of Thrones’ side of the genre and aims to provide a new mother of dragons by the time the film meets its climax.

Damsel’s entire selling point is its fantastic visuals, captivating set pieces, stunning costume designs, and Millie Bobby Brown’s star power. This can go a long way for fans of Millie Bobby Brown and fans of the fantasy genre. Whether or not Millie Bobby Brown has the gravitas to carry the entire weight of this film will be up for much debate, even when surrounded by some of the industry’s leading actors. Brown delivers some great scenes, but the film doubles down on Brown’s more static side of acting heavily reminiscent of her Stranger Things role. Some scenes land, others result in some of her line delivery falling rather flat and not being as impactful as they need to be.

‘Damsel’ premiers on Netflix this Friday, March 8th.

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