1 August 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
A 'Swan Princess' film with not much 'Swan Princess'
Of the 'Swan Princess' films, the best one is by far the first one which is still a flawed but enjoyable film now. The following sequels 'Secret of the Castle' and 'Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom' were not great and had a fair bit wrong with them but had components too that made them watchable.
'The Swan Princess Christmas' was hugely disappointing and a terrible film in general, it looked bad when advertised and the film was even worse. 'A Royal Family Tale' is a marginal improvement over that film but was a big royal mess still. The good news is that 'The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!' is slightly better than those two films. The bad news is that it's still not a good film at all. The characters are not quite as bland and annoying here and the story is easier to follow than 'A Royal Family Tale'. Not that either is saying much though.
Best thing about it is the character of Alise. Found her too sickly sweet in 'A Royal Family Tale', here she had a much stronger personality and was much more likable, having a real charm and adopting Odette's caring side. Her chemistry with Lucas was pretty nice.
However, 'Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!' didn't feel like a 'Swan Princess' film. Odette is very underused and one doesn't see her caring or feisty side. One also misses her chemistry with Alise, which was the only thing that worked about 'A Royal Family Tale'. Derek also has very little to do, in fact apart from at the start and end pretty much he and Odette are sidelined, and he is seemingly getting wetter and wetter as a drip with each instalment of the now over-milked 'Swan Princess' franchise. The funny characters that were bright spots in the first two sequels, so Uberta, Rogers and Jean-Bob are annoying and the rest are bland, most of the main 'Swan Princess' characters have little to do.
Instead, 'Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!' feels too much like the Alise show and story-wise it's like an extended and very padded out episode for a TV series. It's at least easy to follow but is just very dull. Admired that it tried to teach positive messaging to younger audiences, but these are messages taught many times and to much better effect, having been done with more subtlety than the sugary and slightly preachy way it's done here. Lucas has nice chemistry with Alise but was in need of a more interesting personality somewhat.
'Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today's' animation is not as horrendous as it was in particularly 'Swan Princess Christmas' but is still very bad, with the blocky character movements, complete lack of fluidity, at times creepy facial expressions, backgrounds that make plastic feel like they have more life and the incredibly flat colours it constantly looked like an outdated video game with no fluidity, vibrancy or detail.
Once again, the music makes no effort to be true to the style of the original film, something that the first two sequels did try to do, the incidental music doesn't always flow or fit, is sometimes paced ploddingly and has a real habit of drowning out the dialogue. Also could have done without the songs, not only were they forgettable and irritating but they were ill-placed. The script flows badly, is cloying rather than heartfelt and even worse has humour that is just witless and some of it will go over children's heads and even have adults questioning their appropriateness. The voice acting is also poor, apart from that for Alise the other voice actors overdo it or sound bored.
All in all, while perhaps the least bad of the CGI-animated 'Swan Princess' films (can we agree that 'The Swan Princess' doesn't work in CGI?) 'Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!' is still a very poorly executed film that doesn't feel like 'The Swan Princess' at all.
And before anybody spouts the tired cliché of "it's a kid's film, adults have no right to be judging it" (or any other ridiculous variation), this is coming from a lifelong fan of animation who always judges a film fairly, subjectively and perceptively and with awareness of what the target audience is and what it set out to do. Oh, and animated films are meant to be family films, not kids films, another reason why the cliché needs to be nipped in the bud. 2/10 Bethany Cox