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Secret Society of Second-Born Royals – Movie Review

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Secret Society of Second-Born Royals – Movie Review

Rating: C+ (Above Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios

The Disney Channel has a history of making films meant to empower and inspire young people and that’s honestly a noble goal. Even though they are meant as harmless fluff, the intentions with these movies are always appreciated. Secret Society of Second-Born Royals is the first of these made specifically for Disney+, allowing for a slightly bigger budget. There is some creativity in its premise and Peyton Elizabeth Lee carries it just enough. However, the movie could have fleshed out the characters a bit more and it can’t seem to escape the routine storytelling and occasional corniness that pops up.

Watching Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, one wonders if this is based on a young adult novel. This is actually an original idea, surprisingly, which probably says something about the way it’s structured. Even if the chess pieces are familiar, there are a few points of creativity, mostly in depicting the superpowers of the titular second-born princes and princesses. Lee balances the lead protagonist Sam’s rebel attitude and big heart well and she does the job of making her someone to follow. Skylar Astin provides some funny lines as the teacher in charge of these royal teens, becoming easily the movie’s stand-out performer.

Less interesting are the other students put into this summer school program. While their powers are unique enough to not turn them into bargain bin X-Men, the characters lack the needed personality to make them compelling. This is not the fault of the young actors, who try their best. The material just falls short and thus, the scenes of friendly bonding underwhelm and the dialogue is too corny. The main villain is a bore with Greg Bryk mostly directed to snarl and attempt to look menacing. There is a third act reveal that is genuinely surprising, though.

The movie does contain an admirable message about how being the younger sibling doesn’t make someone less worthy or important, which is one that will probably resonate with many children. So its heart is absolutely in the right place. The action scenes aren’t anything spectacular, but Anna Mastro directs them with the needed fast pace. However, the third act does feel the slowest as the events just aren’t exciting enough. The stepping stones are already being put in place for a potential sequel and maybe another movie can help expand on the other characters and give them additional personalities beyond “social media obsessive” and “shy introvert.”

As another in the long line of Disney Channel Original Movies, albeit produced for the Mouse House’s streaming service, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals provides the expected younger-skewing message and wish fulfillment plot. While there is some imagination that pops up on occasion and a likeable lead at its centre, the film feels long even at 97 minutes and it doesn’t feel like we truly get to know these super powered teens. There is a possible franchise and television series that can expand on the concept and that might do the trick in ironing out some of the rough edges in this promising idea. Otherwise, Secret Society of Second-Born Royals mostly just joins the long growing list of DCOMs.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison