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EntertainmentDamsels and Dragons – Millie Bobby Brown's Netflix Adventure challenges fairy tale norms

Damsels and Dragons – Millie Bobby Brown’s Netflix Adventure challenges fairy tale norms

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In Netflix’s latest fantasy flick, “Damsel,” Millie Bobby Brown takes on the role of Elodie, a princess facing unexpected perils in the pursuit of her own destiny. The film, directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, offers a spirited twist on traditional fairy tale narratives, presenting a refreshing take on empowerment and resilience.

Elodie’s journey begins with the promise of a fairy tale ending—a marriage proposal from a handsome prince (Nick Robinson) aiming to save her family from the clutches of poverty. However, the happily-ever-after quickly morphs into a nightmarish ordeal, as Elodie finds herself sacrificed to a dragon as part of an ancient ritual. What ensues is a gripping survival thriller that challenges the conventions of arranged marriages and damsels in distress.

Unlike traditional tales, “Damsel” doesn’t dwell on the helpless princess trope. Elodie, portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown with a mix of rage and determination, becomes a symbol of strength and resourcefulness. The film’s narrative emphasizes her evolution from a vulnerable bride to a strategic fighter, breaking free from the constraints of gendered clichés.

Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, known for his work in genre films, brings a fresh perspective to the screen, steering clear of typical Netflix mockbuster pitfalls. The immersive world of “Damsel” avoids visual tells that remind audiences they’re watching a streaming platform production rather than a blockbuster. While some landscapes may feel AI-bolstered, the film manages to captivate with its well-executed dragon sequences and untapped, albeit slightly monotonous, cave settings.

Damsels-Dragons-scene
Damsels & Dragons scene

Despite varied opinions on Millie Bobby Brown’s performance, “Damsel” succeeds in providing a new take on the familiar tale of a young woman rising to the challenges thrown at her. The film introduces a gently feminist spin, with female characters taking prominent roles in leadership, challenging societal expectations. Veteran actors like Angela Bassett and Robin Wright bring depth to their characters, contributing to the film’s appeal.

While critics point out the predictability and occasional lackluster dialogue, “Damsel” surprises with its subversion of the wicked stepmother trope. Angela Bassett’s portrayal adds complexity to the character, evolving from a stereotypical figure to a protective force for Elodie. The film also highlights the resilience of the girls who faced similar fates, adding depth to the theme of female camaraderie—a welcome deviation from one-dimensional notions of girl power.

Despite its moments of darkness, both literal and metaphorical, “Damsel” manages to deliver breezy entertainment. Millie Bobby Brown’s charismatic presence, along with the chilling voice work of Shohreh Aghdashloo as the dragon, elevates the film beyond its potential pitfalls. While the resolution may feel a bit pat, sailing into the sunset with newfound allies, “Damsel” provides an entertaining escape into a fantasy realm, challenging fairy tale norms along the way.


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Qamar Munawer
Qamar Munawer
Associate Editor at The Eastern Herald. Ar. Qamar Munawer is currently at Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg in Germany.

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