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Sleeping Beauty (Review)

A family picture that is really not for the entire family…

by Martin Hafer

Sleeping Beauty is a production of The Asylum—a film production company known for making so-called 'mockbusters'. These mockbusters are films that are released to coincide with the release of big studio epics in order to capitalize on the hubbub surrounding the big-budget movies. They feature titles that are VERY similar to the bigger films—and this movie is being released just before Disney’s big summer release Maleficent! A few other examples of their films are Atlantic Rim, Death Racers, American Battleship, Snakes on a Train…and many others that have titles almost like blockbuster films. Because of this, it's obvious the film will have a low budget and very modest pretensions—and most likely will be a film you'll see coming direct to DVD. And, I might add, it’s filmed entirely in Bulgaria.

Sleeping Beauty
Directed by Casper Van Dien
Cast Casper Van Dien, Grace Van Dien, Finn Jones, Catherine Oxenberg
Release Date 2014
Martin's Grade: D+

The cast for Sleeping Beauty is very, very unusual.  It seems like this production was a real family affair.  In addition to acting in the film, Casper Van Dien directed the film.  This isn’t so unusual.  However, his wife (Catherine Oxenberg) also is in the film…as are Van Dien’s three daughters!  This makes for a most unusual pedigree.  However, despite being a family film, in many ways I would NOT recommend this film for your entire family!  Nor would I recommend it to the youngest of Van Dien’s kids.  This is because this odd version of the classic story has a lot of intense gore as well as a reference to rape—and I really am not sure why these were included in the film.

The first portion of the film is much like the Perrault story as well as the Disney tale.  A king and queen have a daughter and they invite everyone to come celebrate with them EXCEPT for the one person who happens to be a complete maniac and almost all-powerful sorceress.  When this nasty lady arrives and is miffed by never receiving an invitation, she curses the girl to die by being pricked by splinter from a spinning wheel by the time she turns 16.  However, the good fairies are able to change the curse—instead making it so the princess will sleep for as long as it takes until a prince of good heart will come and kiss her.  Weirdly, they also put the entire kingdom to sleep when she falls asleep—even though this seems like an incredibly bad idea as it leaves the kingdom to the nasty sorceress.

So far this is pretty much the classic story.  However, this is all shown in the first quarter of the film!  Having the prince battle his way in, kill the sorceress and kiss the sleeping girl clearly had to be padded out…a lot.  So, they created an all-new story about a wastrel idiot of a prince, his lackey friends and his whipping boy.  Is this interesting?  Mildly—but often the characters behave inconsistently and you wonder why anyone would follow this prince, since he is a complete and total moron.  But as I said above, there is a lot of adult content tossed in as well as some incredibly bad dialog from time to time.  The overall effect isn’t bad…but it is muddled and not particularly noteworthy unless you thought the original story should be spiced up with zombies, spinal columns being yanked out, beheadings and the like.  It’s not good…but not completely terrible either if you absolutely must see a classic fairy tale infused with zombies and the like.  I do wonder, though, who exactly would really want to see this one---it’s certainly not the average viewer.

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