Monday, September 28, 2020

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (2020)

Streaming Services: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Secret Society of Second-Born Royals (2020)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures, Disney+
Director: Anna Mastro
Writers: Alex Litvak, Andrew Green, Austin Winsberg
Actors: Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Niles Fitch, Isabella Blake-Thomas, Olivia Deeble, Noah Lomax, Faly Rakotohavana, Ashley Liao, Sam Page, Greg Bryk, Elodie Yung, Skylar Astin, Julianna Marie Neo, Jessica Du, Alli Chung, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Sofia Pernas
Blurb from IMDb: It follows Sam's adventures at a top-secret training program for a new class of second-born royals tasked with saving the world.

Cat’s Point of View:
We’ve been looking forward to watching Secret Society of Second Born Royals for a little bit now, ever since it hit our radar while going through coming attraction trailers. Both Selina and I had this movie ranked in our Top 10 (of 20) for the month of September. In retrospect, my #6 was estimating this a little too highly whereas I should have probably listed it closer to #10, as Selina did. Alas, hindsight is what it is. I digress…

My expectation for this film was a light-hearted Disneyfied superhero origins story befitting a Disney Channel production. I imagine I wasn’t too far from the mark, but it still seems I over-estimated.

The mouse house has a bit of a roller-coaster track record on its productions. There have been some stellar shows and movies, and on the flip side, there have been some less so. We’ll call those “basic Disney.” On the one end of the spectrum, you have excellent work such as Descendants (2015). On the other end, you have…well…this. Okay, to be fair, this film did manage to be a little more likable and less frenetic than Artemis Fowl (2020).

The verdict isn’t all bad, though. Secret Society of Second Born Royals wasn’t a complete flop. I did enjoy it, so please don’t misunderstand me. I’m just slightly disappointed that the movie didn’t live up to its potential. There is an opening left by this film’s ending, however, that says there’s room for sequels. Hopefully, they’ll up their game with any future installments.

If the premise of the movie and overall content were directed at a slightly younger audience, I would understand, and give more credit. Unfortunately, this appears to be aimed at young teens – and today’s movie-going teenagers are a bit more sophisticated in the ways of action/adventure movies than this film gives them credit for. When you compare with other titles available on the same streaming platform, this adds up to merely a superhero-lite movie with training wheels.

There are good points, however. While most of the teen characters are played by fresh-faced up-and-comers, there’s no doubt that Disney was pulling on the popularity of its show Andi Mack (2017-2019) with Peyton Elizabeth Lee (Shameless, The Lion Guard, Stumptown) in the lead. I was surprised to see Greg Bryk (Ad Astra, Code 8, My Spy) and Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect, Ghosts of War, Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist), and enjoyed their performances. I do wish that they would have given a bit more oomph to Bryk’s character.

The settings were believable and allowed immersion into the story. I just wish that the special effects could have lived up to the characters’ potentials regarding their powers. The production team got the general point across so that it wasn’t cheesily lacking – it just doesn’t stack up with theater release production quality.

I do feel that bonus points are due, though, for the story including a best friend pairing of opposite sexes without some sort of romance being involved. I appreciated the messages of friendship and teamwork as well. It’s generally a core tenet of “basic Disney,” after all.

All told, I’d recommend this film for fans of the aforementioned Andi Mack show, and probably middle-school-aged kids. There’s some very mild violence involved with the movie, but otherwise, it’s fairly tame in that regard. This isn’t something you’d want to watch immediately after a Marvel marathon, however.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 59%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 51%
Metascore – 28/100
Metacritic User Score – none
IMDB Score – 4.4/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – PG
Movie Trailer:

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