(director: Sean McNamara; screenwriters: Barry Berman/James Schamus/based on the novel ‘The Moon and the Sun’ by Vonda N. McIntyre; cinematographer: Conrad W. Hall; editor: ; music: John Coda/Grant Kirkhope/Joseph Metcalfe; cast:  Pierce Brosnan (Louis XIV), Kaya Scodelario (Marie-Josèphe ), William Hurt (Père La Chaise), Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Jean-Michel Lintillac),  Pablo Schreiber (Dr. Labarthe), Benjamin Walker (Yves De La Croix), Paul Ireland (Benoit), Rachel Griffiths (Abbess), Crystal Clarke (Magali), Julie Andrews (Narrator), Fan Bingbing (Mermaid); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG; producers; David Brookwell, Paul Currie, Wei Han, Sean McNamara, Hong Pang, Leo Shi Young: Gravitas Ventures; 2022-Australia)

“It took eight years to make such a dud, I can only imagine how bad it was then.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The historical 17th century fairy-tale fantasy as directed by Sean McNamara (“Mighty Oak”/”Orphan Horse”) is loosely based on the Nebula award winning 1997 novel ‘The Moon and the Sun’ by Vonda N. McIntyre, and is written by Barry Berman and James Schamus. It lacks substance, the king is an undeveloped character, it’s filled with too many genre cliches and its story is convoluted–which are only some of its missteps. It took eight years to make such a dud, I can only imagine how bad it was then.

Marie-Josèphe (Kaya Scodelario) is the newly appointed feisty court composer. She’s the unknowing daughter of King Louis XIV (Pierce Brosnan), who was hidden away by the King in a convent because she was his illegitimate daughter.

We also become aware that the touchy King is hung up on aging. To remedy this concern, the King has captured a mythical mermaid (Fan Bingbing). The King’s free-spirit daughter meets the mermaid (a CGI character) and her handler, the sea captain Yves (Benjamin Walker), who captured the mermaid. Marie-Josèphe befriends the kindred-spirit creature, considering her as a person. Of note, Kaya and Walker were in real-life married in 2015.

It’s ridiculous even for a fairy-tale story.

While falling in love with Yves, Marie-Josèphe plans to free the mermaid before an immanent solar eclipse will signal the King is to hatch his wicked plan to sacrifice the mermaid so he can gain her immortality (don’t ask how this procedure goes).

The film is narrated by Julie Andrews, William Hurt plays the conflicted priest in the Versailles Palace who is not too sure if killing is a good way to gain power, and Rachel Griffiths has a cameo as the abbess who raised Marie-Josephe.

The actors behave like moderns and not like denizens of the 17th century palace French court of The Sun King. But, on the good side, the visuals were terrific.

REVIEWED ON 2/28/2022  GRADE: C-