Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday animation: The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain

Eh...okay, randomly selected for today is...this movie...

When I was little, I adored The Swan Princess.  I even had this storybook that came with a necklace, and I just loved looking at it.  My sister associates this movie with illness since she was often sick while watching this movie.  Nowadays, I of course recognize that it's pretty awful, but I still love it for the sake of nostalgia.  I put it on the same level as Thumbelina (except Thumbelina is quite a bit better).

This sequel, Escape from Castle Mountain, came out a few years later.  It apparently was in theaters for a short time, but I don't remember seeing it in theaters.  I also didn't watch it nearly as often as the first movie because I had to review it in order to write a good evaluation.  Surprisingly, it's fairly similar to the original in almost every respect...not that that's saying much.

(Screencaps from

Overview: The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain (also known as The Swan Princess: The Secret of the Castle) is an American animated musical film for kids released in 1997.

Art: The art is decent.  The backgrounds look pretty at times.  The character designs are fun.  There's a good amount of fluidity, shading, interesting angles, and some good light effects.  It's certainly not spectacular, though.  I would say it's pretty standard fare for the 90's.  It looks very similar to the first movie, so I give it credit for that since sequels often don't match the quality of the original, but the original didn't have the greatest quality either.  Obviously, a good amount of effort went into this film which I appreciate, but it's still just okay.  Nice overall, but nothing new or astounding.  I like Odette's design.  She's quite lovely.  I don't really like Derek's design.  He's just not that attractive.  :b  It seems only Disney is capable of creating handsome male animated characters.  Animated men in non-Disney always seem to look kind of weird.

Sound: Good quality sound, crisp and clear.  I wouldn't expect anything less from this era.  The voices are mostly different from the first movie with a couple of exceptions, mostly notably the main character of Odette being played again by Michelle Nicastro.  I don't really care for any of the voices, honestly.  They're good enough, but I don't love any of them.  The songs are not nearly as good as the ones from the original, and the original songs weren't amazing either.  The only song I remember is "That's What You Do For a Friend" which is kind of catchy, but not something I'd care to hear again.  Mmm...yeah, just kind of bland overall.  Good enough, though.  Certainly not terrible.

Story: Odette and Derek are celebrating their anniversary but are interrupted by a minion of Clavius, the brother of the villain in the first movie, Rothbart.  As Derek tries to get rid of this minion, he starts not paying as much attention to Odette or his mother, Queen Uberta.  On Uberta's birthday, she is kidnapped by Clavius.  Odette and Derek must save her which requires Odette to once again become a swan.  It's a pretty weak story overall, but it's for kids, so I can forgive it.  I can say as a kid that I enjoyed this movie, and I'm sure little girls even today would like it.  The characters from the first movie return, but the only interesting character is Jean-Bob the frog.  Everyone else is fairly boring, generic, and two-dimensional.  Even the villain is  There are some amusing comedic moments, but the more tender, emotional moments are pretty flat.  There's a thin moral of putting your loved ones first over your work, but it's not enough of a main point to really send a strong message.  It's good entertainment for little girls (and maybe boys).

Why is this happening?!

Personal appeal: I don't really know what to think about this movie.  It's just so...bland.  Everything about it is so generic from the characters to the music to the art to the plot.  It's not bad.  It's just not worth watching.  I wonder what was even the point of this film.  Just to make more money, huh?  A sequel should have a specific purpose and should answer a question that we actually want to know the answer to.  Honestly, even though I did enjoy the first movie as a kid, I never thought to myself, "Gee, I wonder what other adventures they had after this one?"  This movie really is pointless...and boring.

Overall, the film is just...okay.  It has some nice visual moments, but it's just so forgettable and unnecessary.  I don't even think I could recommend it to little girls unless they were die hard fans of the original, and even then, I'm not sure I'd recommend it.