Princess Kaiulani

2009, History/Biography, 2h 10m

38 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

A middling biopic about an important figure in Hawaiian history, Princes Kaiulani looks and feels like a TV movie of the week and offers about as much insight. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

A Hawaiian princess (Q'orianka Kilcher) attempts to maintain the independence of the islands against the threat of American colonization.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for Princess Kaiulani

Audience Reviews for Princess Kaiulani

  • Nov 18, 2013
    I never turn off a movie, and I turned this one off. The first half-hour was excruciating, cramming all kinds of backstory into some of the deadest dialogue I've ever heard, and I just couldn't get past it. [Rating on full viewing pending... unlikely to ever be achieved.]
    Daniel P Super Reviewer
  • Apr 08, 2011
    A great film telling you the history of Hawaii. This film brought to light much of what I have never known. And like the natives of America, the natives of Hawaii succumbed to greed and white rule. Ensure that you read post subtitles telling you what happen to the princess. This is well worth the watch on one of those alone nights when your not sure of the mood your in or what you want to watch. 4 stars
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 04, 2010
    Any movie that helps educate folks about the overthrow of Hawai'i is useful. The production values are good, as is the acting. But it devotes far too little time to the political and social upheavals of the times, and far too much to a love story that has questionable historical accuracy; even if it had happened that way, there's no good reason to make a movie about it. The documentary special feature tacked on is more accurate and more interesting.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2010
    1888, Hawaii is teetering on the brink of civil war. The tide has turned against the royal family, under the influence of a rebel party with links to the American government. Within months, the Palace is overthrown, and the royals are exiled. Among them is the beautiful Princess Ka'iulani (Q'Orianka Kilcher). Scarcely 12 years old, she is separated from her family and her homeland, and, for her own safety, is sent to a climate and a country that couldn't be more different from Hawaii, Victorian England. Coming to terms with her fate, Ka'iulani undergoes a harsh and testing education that equips her with a sense of honor, duty and pride. What's more, she falls in love with the spirited and rebellious young Englishman Clive Davies (Shaun Evans). Emerging from her childhood, and inspired by her blossoming romance, Ka'iulani realizes that she must do all that she can to bring an end to the injustices suffered by her people. She resolves to sail to America, to meet President Grover Cleveland, and to prove that she is much more than merely a "barbarian princess". Eventually, nothing comes of it; the United States forcefully annexes Hawaii (which is why many hawaiians dislike whites) and the princess dies at the young age of 23. Since watching this film, I've been pondering whether to give this a fresh or rotten; either way, Kaiulani is a dissapointing feature. The film does have a great look to it and the production values are impeccable but it plays too calmly, moves too slowly and ponders the occupation of the sovereign kingdom with a questionable impassivity. I also couldnt get comfortable with the fact that Princess Kaiulani was played by a non-Hawaiian. The Princess was in real-life hapa-haole (half white/half hawaiian), and I couldn't get over the fact that the actress who portrayed her was so obviously non- polynesian. I was also offended by the portrayal of rifle-bearing, patently aggressive military and citizenry in the opening scenes and then during the overthrow; it was a nonviolent handover. I felt the film should have focused more on the European business community conspiring against King David's efforts and stripping Hawaiian land to the Dole family. Instead the directors keep this treatment muted; and focuses more on Kaiulani's love story. Despite my dissatisfied feelings of the princess, Kilcher still tries hard to be a intriguing Kaiulani. Of Peruvian and Swiss descent, she was raised in Hawaii, was a hula dancer and a student of at the University of Hawaii. Unlike a standard starlet, she evokes some depth and sympathy in her role. A great idea of a biopic squandered, Kaiulani is a dissapointing letdown. It's a shame more help didn't come from greater passion in the filmmaking. Story: C Acting: B- Direction: C- Visuals: A- Overall: C+ **1/2 out of 4 stars
    Matthew R Super Reviewer

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