Swan Princess V: A Royal Family Tale

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Swan Princess V: A Royal Family Tale Movie Poster Image
Sustained peril gives fairy tale sequel a creepy edge.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 83 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Viewers get some exposure to royal life, but overall, the movie is meant to entertain more than educate.

Positive Messages

Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale offers positive messages about loyalty, perseverance, and doing what you believe is right.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are extremely simplistic, and are often good or bad. Adult characters are typically engaged, caring, and present, though some are shown as bickering and ineffectual. Some evil characters are shown as merely loyal foot servants whose minds can be changed with reasoning.

Violence & Scariness

Sustained peril throughout the film may be too creepy or frightening for younger kids. The movie begins with an explosion that sets the pace for a relentless slew of evil forces, sorcery, plotting, poisons, and lots of weaponry, mostly bows and arrows. The evil force, known as the Forbidden Arts, takes the shape of a stream of black smoke with a very frightening deep voice that slinks about and intimidates wherever it goes. Elsewhere, fire-breathing dragons are shot down with arrows, and a just-adopted child is stolen and kidnapped for the duration of the movie (though unharmed). There are numerous explicit threats on the lives of other characters, and poisons are administered freely. A character is knocked down with a log, while another is tied up in vines. Another is tossed off a cliff, presumed to be dead (but not shown hitting the ground). In one scene, a character is choked, and there are many near-death moments, including a squirrel that is shot in the heart, but survives.

Sexy Stuff

Very mild language, such as when a character says "Beat it, punk," to another, or when characters shout taunts at others, calling them liars or thieves.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many potions, said to be poisons, are used to cause deep sleep or threatened to cause death. Others are used to revive the injured.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Swan Princess V: A Royal Family Tale is the fourth of the direct-to-video sequels in the Swan Princess series, and the fifth installment overall. It contains sustained mild peril such as numerous fights, injuries, potions, death threats, and near-death incidents, with sustained use of bows and arrows throughout the film. Notably, a just-adopted child is kidnapped and locked away in a cave in the forest for the duration of the film (but unharmed). There is one implied death, and the evil force is represented by an ominous, disembodied force that takes the form of a smoke stream and could be quite creepy for younger kids.

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What's the story?

Princess Odette, Prince Derek, and the Royal Family have just adopted a daughter, Alise, when she is kidnapped and held in the forest by an evil force called the Forbidden Arts intent on convincing the world that the Swan Princess brings only despair, and hoping to destroy her. Derek, Odette, and their forest friends must work to combat evil plotting and danger from the Forbidden Arts and his squirrel henchman and save Alise before it's too late.

Is it any good?

Kids who are fans of the series may find an amped-up, if jumbled, installment here. SWAN PRINCESS V: A ROYAL FAMILY TALE looks more like an animated video game from the mid-2000s with a plot dropped into it than a modern animated comedy based on the Swan Lake ballet, but that isn't its only, or even worst, fault. With a needlessly convoluted plot and sustained peril, the movie obscures what sweetness lies at its heart -- a movie about the many forms family can take. Instead, there are explosions, complicated plots about changing stones and false prophecies, sleep potions, and numerous plodding scenes that drag the movie forward at a confusing pace -- to say nothing of too many flying squirrels to keep track of -- while adding a relentless dose of peril to boot. 

Parents of younger kids may want to hold off on this seemingly sweet fairy tale that instead packs a lot of fright -- creepy smoke streams, evil flying squirrels, murderous plots, and an adopted child who is kidnapped for the most of the film -- until they are older. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it feels not to be believed. Have you ever had to convince someone that something was true or not true? What was it? How did it make you feel?

  • How do Princess Odette and Prince Derek work together to rescue Alise? Have you had to work as a team before? What was the project? How did you do?

  • Compare Odette and Derek to the royal king and queen in the film, who were always bickering. Why were they always arguing? How could they have solved their disagreements better?

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