Review: The Princess Twins of Legendale

For those of you who aren't savvy in the world of underground Hollywood, there is a studio called The Asylum, whose sole purpose is to create low-budget imitations of popular movies in the hopes that an old granny will forget her glasses while shopping and buy one on DVD for her grandkids, thinking it's that big blockbuster movie they're always yapping on about. When they set their sights on an upcoming release from a major studio, they rush to get their imitation out before or around the same time as the one they're mimicking so they can pretend that they came up with the idea first. The Twin Princesses of Legendale was not produced by The Asylum, but it feels like it easily could have been. In actuality, it was produced by a modern toy company called MGA Entertainment, which is famous for making Bratz and L.O.L. Surprise dolls. You would think that a toy company producing a low-budget movie would only do so with the intention of selling toys, but surprisingly, my online searches for any sort of product from this movie yielded no results. Why, then, does it exist? Let's explore.

The Twin Princesses of Legendale poster

The Princess Twins of Legendale is an animated feature about two princesses who are sisters that came out in 2013. That might sound a little familiar to you, but the Frozen similarities pretty much end there. In fact, it's more similar in plot to Disney Channel's 2005 live-action movie, Twitches, than any other animated feature. Both movies feature twin princesses who were separated at birth by a powerful evil force. One princess is powered by the sun and the other is powered by the moon. They even possess magical sun and moon amulets like Tia and Tamara's counterparts in Twitches. The biggest difference between the two stories is that the twitches were raised in a contemporary city while Princess Dawn and Princess Eve of Legendale were raised in fantasy kingdoms. Dawn, a princess of the day, as demonstrated by her blonde hair, was raised by her father, King Solter, in the day kingdom. Eve, a princess of the night, as demonstrated by dark hair, was raised by her kidnapper, Queen Dume, in the night kingdom. Though it has things in common with other movies, the story is pretty original overall. It's also quite predictable, as is usually the case for these types of films.

For me, the most cringe-worthy scene in this movie is the song montage that features the princesses bonding as babies. Montages are used to signify the passage of time, but Eve gets kidnapped before she's even old enough to form words, so the amount of time that passes during this unnecessarily long sequence cannot be any longer than a year. Yet, the filmmakers found it necessary to show several minutes of two babies clad in only diapers playing hand games with each other or whatever it is babies do to demonstrate closeness. It would be fine if it had been a montage of them growing up together in the style of "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" but they weren't together long enough for any growth or even a change of clothes, though I hope someone was changing those diapers! There are only so many things that a person can watch newborn babies do without it becoming repetitive or downright disturbing. When the twins get kidnapped, their mother manages to save Dawn and then disappears along with Eve. I thought that she was captured and brought to the night kingdom with Eve, but I learned a while later that she was actually killed trying to save her daughters. The movie does a poor job of clarifying this along with many other important parts of the plot.

The rest of the film is pretty easy to predict. The two princesses grow into fair maidens with pretty dresses and long hair who love to sing songs. They learn from their cutesy magical companions that their guardians have been keeping their other half a secret. There's a little bit of overlap with Tinker Bell's Secret of the Wings movie here, but not much. When the princesses finally meet each other as adults, the overly dramatic panning camera sequence is almost as irritating as the baby montage. I get that they were going for the emotional reunion trope, but it comes off as too cheesy to take seriously. However, I did get a little teary at the ending, so they must have gotten something right. Though it feels nitpicky to complain about the character designs when the animation is so awful in general, I didn't think the princesses' faces looked different enough from the other character models for everyone to make such a big deal out of how similar they looked. With their different hair colors and uncanny generic CGI facial structures, I would not have assumed they were supposed to look alike if the movie didn't keep rubbing it in my face.

This was a pretty good idea for an original story and might have been a legitimately good movie if anyone else had made it. As it stands now, most people will probably take one look at the poster and write it off as a Frozen ripoff even though that's not what it is at all. I only watched The Princess Twins of Legendale out of boredom and found that it was actually a decent way to kill an hour. It's so short that by the time you get sick of the ugly animation, it'll already be over. There were some flashbacks with beautiful 2D storybook artwork, but they were few and far between. If the princesses had more personality and the animation team had a higher budget, this could have been a really good movie. As it stands, it seems like someone came up with a great story idea, but the only studio willing to produce it was a second-rate toy company. Still, I think someone who picks up this movie expecting an Asylum-style Frozen ripoff will be pleasantly surprised.

Comments

jem said…
As someone obesed with fashion dolls and princess this movie seems like a "piece of history" specially when is obviously made to sell toys that where never produced, I can't stop laughing with the twiches similarities but honestly when I first watched it I couldn't help thinking in Celestia and luna form my little pony


Lisa Dawn said…
I did think of Celestia and Luna for a moment as well, but they aren't as good of a comparison because they grew up together and aren't human.
Granted it's been a few years since I've seen this one, but the one thing I remember sort of liking about it was that the Villainess was after the King. It was sort of fun to see a guy in peril for once (As opposed to the villain being a male trying to force a marriage on a female character).

It is extremely curious that no dolls were made for this film... frankly that mystery is far more compelling than the actual film itself. Compare it to something like SpacePOP, which burst right out of the gates with a ton of merchandise (If you think the animation in TPTOL is bad, look up SpacePOP)

Honestly I do wish we had another installment of TPTOL, it would've been interesting to see where they'd go with the characters after getting the introductory movie out of the way.
Lisa Dawn said…
I don't know if I entirely agree that men don't get targeted often by villains in animated films. Sinbad comes to mind with the goddess Eris. In both Beauty and the Beast and Tangled, the male protagonists were mortally injured by the villains and needed the princesses to save them. In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent locked Prince Phillip in a dungeon and chained him to the walls where he sat around helplessly until the fairies came and broke him out. This movie seemed like the villain spent more time targeting women by murdering the mother and kidnapping one of the princesses and only went after the king at the end. I do agree that it's odd there isn't any merchandise for it though.
I was more thinking along the lines of what, for lack of a better term, I would call "romantic peril", where the villain is targeting someone with the intent to entrap them in a relationship. In your examples the Beast, Flynn, and Phillip were definitely in danger and had to be saved by the protagonist, but the villain wasn't attempting to force them into marriage or a relationship.

I feel as though the "romantic peril" plot is usually done with a female character as the one being entrapped, so that's what made Dume going after Soltar feel unique to me, even if the movie didn't really pull it off that well.

And obviously there may be gaps in my memory and I'm forgetting other films that have also done this "romantic peril" with the male character. But right now the examples I'm thinking of have the female character in peril (Jasmine and Jafar, Belle with Gaston, etc.).
Lisa Dawn said…
Ah, I see. I suppose you could argue that Cinderella's stepmother wanted to force the prince to marry one of her daughters, but I catch your drift.
PrincessContent said…
I didn’t want to tell you my full thoughts on this movie when I recommended it to you, but here we go.

First of all, I like that it is an original story and not an adaptation of a fairy-tale. Sure, the story is very predictable but it’s harmless and like I’ve said before, I thought it was cute.

I thought the pacing was good. Well, except for that baby-montage… I agree on every point you have about it. It also didn’t help that those babies are the most ugly character models in the entire movie, along with that weird dragon-dog…

The 2D animation sequences are beautiful and there are many tiny details that I really like.
Example, when we get to see teenage Eve for the first time, her face is a bit hidden in the shadows and we mostly see her from a distance. It’s not in till she walks into her bedroom we get to see a close up of her face while she steps into the moonlight. It was a nice little touch.
That Dume was in fact not a queen but an evil princess was nice.

I actually really like the scene where the sisters finally meet again. I like that there was no dialogue between the two in till after they’ve touched hands.

Overall, this movie is not that very good. I find it cute with nice details. I don’t regret seeing it but I will probably never watch it again.

Also, I did not think a second of Frozen while watching this. The movie instead, along with the poster, made me think more of Barbie movies. I think the only reason for that is that I’m so used seeing Barbie next to a doppelgänger with darker hair.
Lisa Dawn said…
The poster definitely reminded me of Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper, but the look and feel of the movie was a lot like something The Asylum would have done for Frozen before they actually saw it.

IMDB actually lists Dume as "Queen Dume" even though it wasn't stated in the movie. I guess since Solter was a prince in the opening narration and became a king when the events of the movie began, we're supposed to assume the same about Dume.

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