A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie contains some very standard cartoon violence: the scariest sequences involve Zelda, a sorceress who cackles a lot and loudly, threatens our heroine and her family and friends, casts evil spells upon innocents, and generally causes a lot of trouble. Zelda kidnaps Princess Odette and calls upon explosive, whizzing fireballs and green blobs in an attempt to take over the kingdom. There are lots of high-speed chases, played mostly for humor with pratfalls aplenty. For a short time it's feared that Odette is gone and the others begin to grieve for her, but she reappears quickly. In the final battle sequence, Zelda can't escape a fireball and blows up. Princess Odette, while not the central focus of this movie, is still much more than a "damsel-in-distress." She makes decisions, behaves wisely, and is shown to be courageous and strong.
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What's the story?
In this third episode in The Swan Princess series, Princess Odette (voiced by Michelle Nicastro), Prince Derek (Brian Nissen) along with all of the familiar characters are delightedly engaged in preparations for "Festival Days," the most exciting, wonderful time of year in their kingdom. But unbeknownst to them, in a nearby cavern, the evil sorceress Zelda has a different plan in store for them. She knows that somewhere in the castle her former partner, the malicious Lord Rothbart (who disappeared into an abyss in the original film) has hiddden the Forbidden Arts -- powerful spells that will enable her to "create, change, and destroy." Zelda will do whatever she must to find them. The prince and princess, the queen, and all of their delightfully quirky friends must once again use all of their wiles and courage to outwit and defeat the sinister villainess.
Is it any good?
On its own, this is a mildly entertaining movie with some funny characters, an admirable heroine and hero, and pleasant, if not memorable, music. Despite the undeniable similarity in plot to Swan Princess II (in both films Lord Rothbart's successors attempt to snatch the same Forbidden Arts from the castle; and in all three films, members of the royal family are kidnapped in the villains' quest for power), this third offering has been able to recapture some of the charm, humor, and magic of The Swan Princess. It's more fun and more contemporary than the first sequel. Still, the filmmakers were obviously working on a much tighter budget and it shows. In fact, they resort to clips from the original film as visuals for a "new" musical production number with a new song. The voice work, originality, and clever choreography that made The Swan Princess special are missed once again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jean-Bob, Speed, and Puffin are like a family. What other movies or TV shows have you seen where people who aren't really related act like a family? Why do you think audiences like them?
If you've seen the other two movies in this series, which did you like best of the three? What did you miss most from the original? What, if anything, did you like better in this movie?
What makes the relationship between Princess Odette and Prince Derek work so well? What do they like about each other? How do they handle problems when they come up?
Teamwork is an important part of this series. Name some of the many "teams" you saw in this film.
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