‘Secret Society of Second Born Royals’: A cliche and tedious film


Released on Disney+

The movie “The Secret Society of Second Born Royal” was released on Sept. 25, 2020, and focuses on second born royal outcasts finding their ways as protectors of the various kingdoms.

Danielle Braune, Staff Writer

The crown, the kingdom, the throne — who receives all of this power in a monarchy? The oldest child of a royal bloodline, of course. We all know the stories of the eldest son or daughter gaining the throne when he or she is of age, but what about the younger siblings? What do they get? The “Secret Society of Second Born Royals” tries to show us.

This film takes place in Illyria, a kingdom located in the southeast region of Europe. The narrator – more formally introduced later as Skylar Astin’s character, Professor James Morrow – opened the film by introducing our bad-apple main character. This is where I first lost interest.

Does this film succeed with its goal of shining a positive light on younger siblings? As one myself, I can say easily it does not.

The “Secret Society of Second Born Royals” tells the story of — you guessed it — the second-born children of royal bloodlines, all of which are either bratty, annoying, or both. Their older siblings get the throne and the power, and what do they get? A different kind of power, but these are supernatural. Ooo. Sooooo interesting. These superpowers awaken when they’re teenagers — so, yes, it’s another movie about kids being tasked with saving the world with their newfound supernatural abilities. This can be an amazing plotline, as we see in many Marvel movies. However, with this film, I was completely unengaged the entire time — the plot was boring, the characters were unsavory, and the writing, in general, was garbage. 

The superpowers in this movie were very unoriginal, basic, and boring — super senses, invisibility, controlling bugs, mind control, and borrowing other people’s powers? So bland. At least My Hero Academia makes these basic concepts interesting. In Gen Z terms, where is the flavor? Spoiler: it’s nowhere to be found in this movie. There is no sugar, no spice, and certainly nothing nice. 

Don’t get me started on the villain, Inmate 34’s, ability — telekinesis. It had more potential than the others, but it was completely wasted. There were no cool colors shooting out of his hands or anything really to give it flair. Instead of conjuring an original or interesting idea, Disney decided to take a page from one of its most famous properties, Star Wars, and make this antagonist essentially use “The Force”. I’m not exaggerating — Inmate 34, at some point, literally did the iconic Darth Vader force-wall-choke, down to the C-hand gesture and everything.

When our wonderful main character, Samantha — oh, sorry. It’s Sam, as she avidly corrected everyone in this movie — first got her powers, she broke into a bar with her best friend, Mike. While they were rocking out to the band playing at the time, her powers suddenly kicked into overdrive. Sam had a nervous breakdown and what did she do? Rush out of the building to avoid further anxiety? No — that makes too much sense. This genius (note the sarcasm) pulled the fire alarm and ended up spending the night in jail. Am I supposed to feel bad??? What she did was irresponsible and she deserved to face the consequences of her actions. 

This movie spends so much time establishing how different and quirky the main character is that it takes away from the already mediocre plot. Protagonists do tend to stand apart from the crowd, but Sam’s personality was forced, awkward, and ultimately cringey. Was I supposed to respect her for the way she hated her monarchy and family, and the way she treated other people? This stereotype of the punk, family-hating, society-questioning character belongs in the 2000s. Can we move past it? It’s getting old. 

Sam’s remarks were not as clever as they were probably intended to be. Her dialogue — and most of the dialogue in this movie, as a matter of fact — is very plain. Disney tried so hard to make Sam’s character seem edgy and different that it made her dislikable. The occasional snarky remark from a character can be fun, but Sam did not make it work.

Each one of the second-born royals holds a different power that is unlocked when they turn 16 years old. -Disney+

The other characters in this film were also boring, so much so that if I didn’t watch this movie with subtitles, I would not remember their names. (In all honesty, I had to look up most of them for the accuracy of this article. I only remembered Sam.) The other second-born royals and their powers are as follows: January (stealing other powers), Tuma (mind control), Matteo (controlling bugs), and Roxana (invisibility). Out of all of these, Matteo’s was the most creative, but that does not mean it was cool.

Tuma was given a fun scene during the obligatory training montage with a dog who was supposed to be his partner in crime, but then the pup didn’t show up for the rest of the movie. Partners in crime are supposed to stay at your side, but this dog was absent the entire film. An opportunity wasted. 

One of the only appealing aspects of this movie was Skylar Astin, famously known as Jesse from Pitch Perfect). Astin plays Professor James Morrow, the mentor to the children who are being trained in this secret society. Astin is a typecast actor, meaning he plays a very similar character in all of his movies. Thus, Professor James Morrow is pretty much the same as Jesse from Pitch Perfect, making his character bearable. 

Professor James Morrow, played by Skylar Astin, is a mentor to the second-born royal. – Disney +

His superpower, you ask? Cloning himself. I’ve never seen that one before. 

This movie has so many cliches: classic Disney princess parent death? It’s there. Comparison of main character to a snowflake because she’s special and — the word they always use — unique? Check. “Expect the unexpected?” Give me a break.

It’s like Disney knew the plot was garbage and the characters were unlikable, so they decided to pander to their audience as the last resort to get people to like this movie. They did this by cramming in references to other, famous media; it referenced The Breakfast Club when they all showed up to an empty classroom early in the morning, The Lion King when Tuma talked about how the younger siblings are left to live in harmony while their siblings get all the responsibilities, and — how could I forget? — this film nods to the Avengers. Let’s use this film to compare how references should work, shall we?

In this famous Marvel film, the allusions are minimal but effective; Tony Stark, for example, called Thor, Point Break. Even if you don’t understand the nickname, it doesn’t take away from the plot because it’s an offhand comment. These references are well placed, fun, and if you understand the reference, you feel special because you are a part of a small group who do. But then again, this movie crammed in too many and it was ultimately distracting. 

When there were so many references, however, and it was obvious that Disney was trying to appeal to every audience possible, it took away the fun of simple references. They also recycled the same jokes (like referring to their underground base as the Batcave), making them less funny than they were in the first place.

No wonder it was rated 4.6 on IMDB! It’s garbage! I would rather watch Cats — at least that’s memorable, in a horrible kind of way. This movie deserves nothing more than a five out of ten — and I’m giving it something lower: 4.5/10.  

You might be thinking, “oh, it can’t be that bad…” and maybe you’re even considering going to watch the movie yourself — don’t. If I — a film connoisseur — kept having to check how much time there was left, I doubt you will enjoy it that much either.