“This is the best. Movie. Ever.”
That’s what the 11-year-old me would have said durinmg the “Secret Society of Second-Born Royals.”
For the advanced-age me, and for older viewers in general, this remains a solid, enjoyable romp, and probably the beginning of a franchise that blends Disney royalty and superheros with a new spin.
Samantha (Peyton Elizabeth Lee, “Andi Mack”) is second-born royal. Her older sister is about to be crowned queen in her small country’s European monarchy. Samantha wants none of the pomp and circumstance that involve being of royal blood. She wants to play guitar in her own band and rebel against tradition, which she does whenever possible.
Samantha eventually is dispatched to a summer school, where she ends up in a classroom with other teenagers who smirk, pull attitudes and joke around.
But the school really is a training academy (this is not a spoiler, because, hey, you already read the title.) The young people, all second-born royals like Samantha, are gathered to discover and hone their super powers.
Their instructor (Skylar Astin, “Pitch Perfect”) informs them they will learn how to use their powers for the good of the countries they represents. But there’s a malignant force afoot: A criminal (Greg Bryk,) who has a connection to Samantha, esapes from a prison and sets out to kill the troupe’s older siblings.
It’s up to Samantha to rescue her older sister Eleanor (Ashley Liao, “Always Be My Maybe.”)
I love how Disney has strewn nods to other Disney-related series. There’s a training session that’s very “Star Wars”-ian, and of course the Disney princess theme runs through the story. This appears to be a Marvel-esque origins tale to launch a younger, more innocent Avengers-type franchise.Of course, the teenagers learn to work through their differences and become friends while they are, essentially, saving a good part of the world.
It’s breezy, contemporary and has just enough edge to appeal to kids who want to break with tradition and venture out on their own, or at least with other kids of like mind.
Something tells me “Part 2” is being created even as you read this.
3 out of 4 stars
Running time: 90 minutes.
Streaming on Disney+