Film: “The Stolen Princess”; Director: Oleg Malamuzh; Voice Cast: Oleksandr Usyk, Nadiia Dorofeieva, Positiff, Monatik, Yevhen Mykolayovych Malukha, Serhiy Prytula; Rating: **1/2
“The Stolen Princess” is the first animation film in English from Ukraine to hit the Indian screens and it is at par with other animated films from Hollywood studios.
The film is based on an epic Russian fairy tale — “Ruslan and Ludmila” — published in 1820, in the form of a poem by the poet Alexander Pushkin. It is the love story of Mila, a Princess and Ruslan, an actor who dreams of being a knight.
Under constant scrutiny of her over-protective father, Mila hates the life she leads. So one day she escapes from her palace and wanders into town. And while she is meandering in the streets, some ruffians harass her and Ruslan comes to her rescue. He saves her from her tormentors and falls in love with her without realising that she is a princess.
It is only when the evil sorcerer and magician Chornomor abducts Mila and the King decrees that the knight who rescues her can marry her, Ruslan realises that Mila is a princess.
He then goes on a great adventure with his friend Nestor and his pet bird to save the princess.
The narrative, which bookends with, “Long time ago…” and “they lived happily ever after”, is predictable and oft seen. While the animation and voice cast are of ace quality, the plot along with the character graphs seems to be lazily drafted. The characters are archetypes and the story is clichéd. Not enough time is given to the characters to build or for us to invest in them emotionally.
What you get is an action-packed drama that is mechanically mounted. Ruslan’s obstacles, for example, are an anthropomorphic cat that turns into a giant monster, a giant head, an army of zombies and a lava-stone shaped monster that chases him and his friends. Nothing ever seems to be of serious consequence. Every sequence is treated mildly and over a period of time the narrative gets tiresome and loses its charm.
The dialogues too are run-of-the-mill. The only character that stands out in terms of keeping you engrossed is Nestor. He has the best lines. With his witty one-liners he keeps you engaged.
Overall, the film sans any life’s lessons is like a video-game of a fairy tale where the hero goes from stage to stage defeating his enemies.