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1 review, 6 user ratings

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Princess of Thieves
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by Scott Weinberg

"Logically Disney buries their GOOD live-action stuff on their cable channel"
4 stars

You might expect a made-for-TV movie about the adventures of Robin Hood’s teenage daughter would make for an inevitably cheeseball affair. 98 times out of 100, you'd be correct, but Peter Hewitt’s "Princess of Thieves" bucks all the odds by turning out to be an entertaining little movie.

Sure, you’ve seen these character shadings and plot devices in dozens of movies (mostly Disney ones, of course), but they’re presented in a colorful and generally breezy style here and the result is a family flick that should please just about everyone.

It’s about 18 years after Robin Hood’s most famous adventures, and he’s just now returning to England. After entrusting his young daughter Gwyn to the ever-reliable Friar Tuck, Robin is just now coming home from a 5-year Crusade. Gwyn has since grown into a headstrong young woman, so when Robin sets out on a mission to protect England’s future king - Gwyn promptly follows.

What follows is a rather familiar series of set-ups and escapes, centering mostly on Gwyn and her adventures with the future-king-incognito Prince Philip. The Sheriff of Nottingham logically figures into the equation, as he and Philip’s evil uncle John do everything they can to appropriate the throne for themselves. The villainous duo are confident they’ll win the crown, particularly when they manage to capture the heroic Robin - but (in true fashion of all ‘girl empowerment’ flicks) they gravely underestimate Gwyn’s resolve, bravery, and power.

Princess of Thieves feels an awful lot like the TV production it is, but that’s fairly forgivable - because it’s a pretty darn entertaining TV production. Pre-teen girls will delight in Gwyn’s accomplishments, and the familiar (yet still important) girl-power message is delivered with a minimum of manipulation or schmaltz. If you’re choosing Princess of Thieves for a family-night viewing, there’s a little something for everyone. Dads and little brothers will enjoy the fun-yet-predictably-nonviolent action sequences, Mom and the girls will appreciate Gwyn’s search for respect, the plot narrative is interesting enough for parents to get involved in (though the story line is a bit convoluted for younger viewers to grasp) and the direction by Peter Hewitt (Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey) shows off some top-notch TV-level production value.

Keira Knightley is a fetching and talented young actress, and if you think she looks an awful lot like Natalie Portman, well then George Lucas probably agrees with you: Knightley appeared in Attack of the Clones as a ‘decoy’ for Portman’s character. Knightley’s sweet face and commanding delivery promise bigger things to come, and in this flick she easily holds her own. Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) has a few fun moments chewing scenery as the devious Sheriff of Nottingham, Stuart Wilson (Vertical Limit) delivers an enjoyably downbeat Robin Hood, and Jonathan Hyde (Richie Rich) offers several fun moments as the increasingly maniacal Prince John.

It’s no secret that the lion’s share of made-for-TV movies are mediocre at best, so it’s a nice surprise when something like Princess of Thieves pops up. Call me crazy, but this one’s more entertaining than most of what Disney considers "theatrical value" live-action productions.

There’s more charm and craftsmanship in the first 30 minutes of "Princess of Thieves" than there is in the whole of "Snow Dogs".

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originally posted: 05/02/04 18:27:25
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User Comments

10/26/11 s russo Not for anyone who has seen Flynn & Rathbone do it 3 stars
4/09/06 Viannah Certainly worth at least one watch through, especially if you have children younger than 12 4 stars
2/23/05 Josey No Idea why it didn't turn out popular =] 5 stars
9/23/04 Joanna I loved it, it was so much fun to watch! 5 stars
7/20/04 Ariel I love keira so much and i can't believe i've just heard of this movie now! Truly a MUST C 5 stars
5/15/04 Matthew Ashman This movie is much more fascinating than you're saying 5 stars
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