“Princess Odette is hosting a music competition to celebrate Princess Alise’s birthday. Prince Li of Cathay has entered, but his sister Princess Mei Li has stowed away on his ship to seek help from Odette and Derek for Chen, who has been cursed to live as a dragon. Who will win the music festival and will Chen ever be free from his curse?”– Anonymous, IMDB
The 9th entrant in the Swan Princess series, The Kingdom of Music was released to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the original Swan Princess film. Nina Herzog returns to voice Odette, having replaced Laura Bailey in Swan Princess 9 (Who had herself replaced the original voice of Odette, Michelle Nicastro, who passed away in 2010).
Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below…)
The Kingdom of Music definitely delivers on the usual weirdness I’ve come to expect from the series (For which I am eternally grateful). This film sees a grown-up Alise dealing with a love triangle between herself, her childhood friend Lucas, and newcomer Prince Li. Though now that I think of it, we really don’t see Alise dealing with this love triangle, the movie instead focuses on Lucas and how he’s affected by Alise moving her affections onto Prince Li.
And that’s the best way to describe things, Alise moves her affections onto Prince Li. At first Alise clearly reciprocates Lucas’ feelings of love, and nothing big ever happens to turn her away from Lucas other than Prince Li appears and becomes the more enticing option. It comes across as a bit awkward, as the conclusion of the film has Alise fall in love with Lucas again. Because the film is focusing on Lucas, we don’t really get to see inside Alise’s head, so whatever thought process is making her jump between Li and Lucas goes unsaid, and instead her actions feel more like they’re guided by the needs of the script versus a choice of her character.
I’m really not sure why they didn’t just have Alise be oblivious to Lucas’ feelings in the beginning, and the film is her realizing that she loves him. It’s a very standard plot, but I don’t think their target demographic is looking for anything super-ground breaking. I think in this case it would’ve been better to tell a simpler story well, instead of telling a more complicated story poorly.
A non-romance thing to point out: The Swan Princess sequels kind of ignore the quasi-medieval setting to include technology when it suits them. The main plot of this film is that Odette is hosting a music festival, which takes the form of an American Idol-style singing competition, with lighting and special effects that obviously wouldn’t be available in the time period the film takes place in. Even when the first film was doing things that broke the time period (for example the “Princesses on Parade” sequence), they still kept things grounded in the medieval setting.
Now that all said, in The Swan Princess Christmas, we did see that Rogers invented the lightbulb, and he’s also the creator of the various spy gadgets in Swan Princess 8 so I guess going forward we should just assume that any out-of-place technology in the films was just built off-screen by him.
In conclusion, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at this one. If for nothing else just to keep up on the ever extending lore of the Swan Princess series.