Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is a bubble gum-covered punk song, sweet enough to appeal to everyone yet lacking a distinctive rule-breaking charm. The film centres around Sam (Peyston Elizabeth Lee) who rebels against her line of royalty. It is a light fantasy film about second-born royals with unique powers having to undergo tests to enter a secret society. The film touches on aspects of governing, superpowers, caring for others, being a member of a prestigious royal family/”regular” family, identity, the influence of social media, teamwork, and friendship. It takes elements from multiple blockbuster styles and mashes them up with a Disney Channel flair.
Trained by a professor named James Morrow (Skylar Astin), the second-borns work to develop their unique powers — invisibility, persuasion, etc. — all while getting to know one another as unlikely teammates. But a disturbance uncovers when Edmond (Greg Bryk), a betraying former member of the Secret Society, breaks free from his 10-year imprisonment, pledging revenge on the woman who locked him away.
This film presents a sense of nostalgia, feeling like a mash-up of Sky High, Spy Kids and Princess Protection Program while dealing out a healthy dose of family entertainment with a premise to capture a young audience. It follows in the footsteps of kid-tailored superhero movies, putting the early-teen characters at the centre of the adventure, with animated powers. Of course, it does not miss out on cool training montages and a twisted plot, but sometimes these elements don’t seem to work together. The film often juggles too many character arcs to really give the satisfying conclusions you would expect. There is so much focus on creating an exciting climax, and less emphasis on the actual characters who have developed through the duration of the film. Under the surface there is so much to be explored with each character and their satisfying progress as people — they continue to advance with their powers as well as their perspectives.
The film’s interesting concept at times feels rushed, clearly made for a streaming service rather than the big screen, but Disney+ still manages to deliver something with franchise potential, which continues to be fun and has a fierce female lead. Unlike most of today’s young-adult content, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is not based on a book series, it is an original concept. Even so, the movie is more than happy to acknowledge moments in which it shows some resemblance to well-established franchises. Although the film works in a number of ways with a sweet essence of charm, there is not enough here to break it out of the confines dictated by its very intended viewership.
Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is available to stream exclusively on Disney+ now
by Charlotte J
Charlotte J is a culture writer and former cinema manager. A lover of coming of age ventures and twisted thrillers, her favourite films include Lady Bird, Back to the Future, Easy A and Get Out. You can find her on Twitter @charlonfilm
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