Reviewed by: Eric Bell
|Featuring:||Q'orianka Kilcher (Princess Ka'iulani), Barry Pepper (Thurston), Will Patton (Sanford B. Dole), Shaun Evans (Clive Davies), Jimmy Yuill (Archie), Julian Glover (Mr. Davies), Tamzin Merchant (Alice Davies), Catherine Steadman (Miss Barnes), Kainoa Kilcher (Kaleo), Gary Aiko (Musician), Arthur Akana (Musician), Leo Anderson Akana (Queen Liliu'okalani), Peter Banks (President Cleveland), See all »|
|Producer:||Matador Pictures, Island Film Group, Trailblazer Films, See all »|
“Her heart was torn between love and the future of Hawaii.”
The story of Princess Kaiulani is interesting and obscure and possibly received more warmly by a history buff. For the rest of us, it is a mundane revelation of the short lived life of Victoria Kaiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiui Lunalilo, niece to Hawaiian King Kalakaua in the 1888 era.
The Hawaiian aristocracy gets blind sided by American colonization, and the stubborn Princess is caught in the middle. At the onset of political upheaval, Victoria is sent to England, in order for the difficulties on the Islands to subside and for her to continue her training as future heir to the throne. As her father travels, she is left with a sponsor family and enrolled in a girls’ school. Here she is ridiculed and mocked for her ethnicity and odd ways. Adults take to her well, and she ends up softening the hearts of her adversaries, with her wise and mature behavior.
And, of course, there is romance. She begins to fall for a boy and continues the romance through a difficult and unfulfilling path. The choices she has to make for him reveal her commitment to her royal blood and the passion she maintains for her people, even abroad.
While there are moments of interest and some well laid storyline, they are far and few between. I found myself feeling as if I was watching a slightly jazzed up, incomplete history documentary. There was not a sense of a consistent thread that to carry me from one scene to the next, leaving it difficult to track and somewhat unfulfilling in each of its conclusions.
There are some notable actors. Barry Pepper plays his role well as the despised head of the insurrection, while Will Patton does his best to stand up for what is right, despite the pressure of politics and the American way of life.
It is a family-friendly film, for the most part. I would imagine that most kids and young adults would become quickly bored and never find any real interest along the way to bring them back. There is little offensive content to keep you away from this PG-rated film. There are military personnel with guns guarding against a small onslaught of rebellious colonizers. Another scene shows cannons firing and several people being shot. There are few if any offensive words. Most odd are the belabored scenes of the Princess smooching with her beau. It seems forced and out of place, and so became somewhat distracting and bothersome—not anything very scandalous, just not natural.
There are a couple of notable moral lessons. The Princess forgives one of her school house bullies and treats her well in the end. She, also, stands up for what she believes in and goes out on a limb by taking a chance at visiting with President Grover Cleveland. She ends up casting aside her own love, for the good of her people and for the felt responsibility of her role as Princess. These are good examples of how I would want my kids to behave and obviously characteristics of our Lord Jesus.
I do applaud the writer and director for their attempt to bring to light the atrocity of the colonization of Hawaii and the trampling of their constitution. While not the best portrayal, it is a tribute of respect, nonetheless.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.