What Enola Holmes did for Sherlock -- provide a younger, female-empowered spin starring a fierce, clever young woman who outsmarts the men around her -- this film aims to do for classic fairy tales. But in Enola Holmes, we get to know the main character and are immersed in a complex mystery. While The Princess turns the Disney princess trope on its head, surely a sellable concept, it relies too heavily on audiences' familiarity with traditional fairy tales to focus almost exclusively on martial arts-style action over plot or character. The film moves very fast, and the fighting is impressively choreographed, but dialogues are mostly limited to flashbacks and snarky one-liners ("Someone needs to teach you your place." "I've heard that before.").
The female empowerment message is clear, albeit simplistic: The princess (who is never actually named) has shirked her life's "duty" to be a polite, educated wife because, she says, "I was born this way." To hit the point home, other female characters are equally tough, including warrior master Linh and consort Moira, and the princess's traditionally flouncy dress is a liability she tears apart and pairs with sensible boots. Even her father the king, enlightened enough to "welcome outsiders" into his kingdom and avoid ruling "by fear," has yet to accept that a female could be sovereign. Cooper and Kurylenko as the punk-styled baddies are fun, and the film's medieval set is memorable. The Princess will find its fans, but some might wonder if it could've been done with more story to match the action.