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The Marsh King’s Daughter               review by Bobby Blakey

Director Neil Burger has brought an interesting variety of films to the big screen including The Illusionist, The Divergent, Limitless and The Upside. Now he is brought the book by Karen Dionne, The Marsh King’s Daughter to the big screen starring Daisy Ridley, Ben Mendelsohn, Garrett Hedlund, Caren Pistorius, Brooklynn Prince and Gil Birmingham. Could this film be another interesting hit or will it get lost in the woods?

The Marsh King’s Daughter follows a woman with a secret past will venture into the wilderness she left behind to confront the most dangerous man she’s ever met: her father. In the film, Helena’s seemingly ordinary life hides a dark and dangerous truth: her estranged father is the infamous Marsh King, the man who kept her and her mother captive in the wilderness for years.

When her father escapes from prison, Helena will need to confront her past. Knowing that he will hunt for her and her family, Helena must find the strength to face her demons and outmaneuver the man who taught her everything she knows about surviving in the wild.

This is one of those films that offers up an interesting premise and is a good movie, but never fully realizes what it could have really been. Maybe it was my perception of what direction I thought it was going to be taking and while it does for the most part it just never packed that punch, I felt it was building too. It wasn’t bad by any means, just some missed opportunities for what was built up initially.

The first half of the film is engaging as we see her being trained by her father to survive and start to realize something is off. This sets up a compelling idea that with the direction they head offers up multiple layers to where they can take it. I was hoping to get a bit more showing her acclimation to the world, but it just jumps over that and right into her adult life. This doesn’t hurt the film, but it would give more depth and heft to her journey and where it is now. Despite this it still gives enough info to get you caught up before taking us on the current path.

This is where it missed for me as it does a lot of tension building that is both playing up her fears and the truth. This gets you reinvested in her story and ready to see it all come to a head. As she finally starts to prepare you get the sense that we are about to see her turn on the old school tricks and training to finish it all and instead it goes in a more generic direction. Gone is any sense of real skills and instead a minor shove of action to the finale that misses out on what could have been. I know it is likely going by the source material and trying to delve deeper into their relationship, but it could have had such a great series of events and moments to really punch it home.

In the end it is a good movie but gets lost in its generic storytelling and missed opportunities to ever truly stand out. The cast are all good and it’s worth checking out, just keep the expectations lowered.


Decide for yourself and check out The Marsh King’s Daughter available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.  

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