Enjoy These Absolutely Searing Reviews For A Bizarre New Pierce Brosnan Movie About Mermaids

It's been called a "hot, chaotic and just plain kooky mess."

Pierce Brosnan in The King's Daughter

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Every once in a while, there comes along a film so mind-bogglingly bad — so outside the scope of what we expect from narrative art — that it seems capable of re-defining what we think cinema is. The King’s Daughter is such a movie.

The film, which has sat on the shelf for almost a decade due to “technical issues”, is in the league of The Room and Movie 43, other projects so oppressively and aggressively wrongheaded that they have to be seen to be believed.

I mean, when we sit down in front of a movie, we have certain expectations. We come to art with a pre-existing set of rules; we expect plots to unfold in certain ways; thematic decisions to be slowly and carefully integrated. We expect, I think, to be treated with a certain amount of respect from filmmakers — that they will speak our language, and we will learn to speak some of theirs too.

And then there’s The King’s Daughter. Starring Pierce Brosnan, the film is an adaption of a classic fantasy novel, with a plot that beggars belief. In it, Brosnan plays a king whose daughter — played by Kaya Scodelario — has been kept secret from the world at large. But that secrecy is threatened to unravel when Brosnan’s king decides to murder a captive mermaid (no really) during a lunar eclipse so that he might live forever and consolidate his power. When his daughter strikes up a friendship with the mermaid, chaos ensues. Enter an anti-mermaid murder priest, played by William Hurt, extensive scenes of violas getting smashed, and a mysterious and badly CGI’d grotto.

The reviews, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that description, have not been kind. “The King’s Daughter starts at an 11 on the bonkers scale, and unfortunately, there’s nowhere to go from there but down,” writes Katie Walsh of The Wyoming News, later calling it a “hot, chaotic and just plain kooky mess.” Elsewhere, Tara Bennett of IGN calls it a true cinematic travesty, a series of scenes assembled seemingly at random that go absolutely nowhere. “Give me the movie about how The King’s Daughter ended up like this; that’s surely a better story all around,” she writes.

Charles Bramesco of The AV Club is even harsher. “The trouble starts with the incongruity of its component parts, an unnatural hybrid of social studies 101 costume drama, family-friendly fairy tale, and YA heartstring-plucker,” he writes. “[Director Sean McNamara] has offered a movie much more fun to research and describe than to actually watch, a mistold bedtime story not nearly as compelling as the story of its making.”

Mark Kennedy of Sentinel agrees. “The King’s Daughter isn’t just bad, it’s a cloying, cliched mess that’s not worth even the slightest risk of contacting COVID-19 to see in theatres. Another clue? It was shot in 2014 and only released now. That raises confidence levels, huh?”

Perhaps the most annihilating sledge comes from Ferdosa of Screen Rant. “Each scene should not feel like it belongs in a different film, especially considering its incredibly wild ending,” they write. “The King’s Daughter is lifeless and nothing about it is enchanting, which makes the convoluted story, the vastly underdeveloped lead, and distracting costume choices that much more noticeable.”

But hey, like I say, we need movies like The King’s Daughter. How else can we understand the capabilities of cinema without knowing just how muddled, unpleasant and bizarre it can be?