Millie Bobby Brown’s new Netflix movie is No. 1 — and viewers disagree with critics

Millie Bobby Brown wields a sword in Damsel, a new movie coming to Netflix in 2023
(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix viewers are very familiar with Millie Bobby Brown. The actress stars in the streamer’s flagship sci-fi show Stranger Things and its Enola Holmes franchise, and now the Brit has a new movie that has risen to the very top of the most-watched list. 

“Damsel” sees Bobby Brown square off against a fire breathing dragon and it’s currently the No.1 movie on Netflix ranking above “Spaceman” with Adam Sandler, “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” and even “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”. 

Netflix will no doubt to pleased to see one of its biggest movies of 2024 make such a large splash. But “Damsel” hasn’t enjoyed a universally positive reception, so if you’re trying to decide whether to add this new fantasy flick to your watchlist here’s what you need to know.

What is ‘Damsel’ about?  

In ‘Damsel’, Millie Bobby Brown plays a young maiden named Elodie. The daughter of Lord Bayford (Ray Winstone), Elodie is a precocious royal who receives a proposal from Queen Isabelle of Aurea (Robin Wright) to marry her son, the handsome Prince Henry (Nick Robinson). 

Elodie is initially reluctant to accept but agrees to the marriage for the betterment of her kingdom as the arrangement comes with a large dowry. Unfortunately, Elodie's engagement gets off to a rocky start, as the wedding is quickly revealed to be a cover for a sinister plot to sacrifice the young royal to a fearsome dragon to repay an ancient debt. 

However, Elodie doesn’t intend to become dragon chum without putting up a fight and after summoning all her courage she’s determined to prove she’s more than a mere damsel in distress. 

‘Damsel’ reviews — here’s what critics say 

‘Damsel’ is off to a strong start in terms of viewership having claimed the No.1 spot less than a week after premiering on Netflix, but its critical reception has been less impressive. The movie currently holds a lackluster 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the site’s critical consensus noting its “underpowered story” and “occasionally unconvincing effects" as reasons for the poor rating. 

David Opie of Empire Magazine felt the movie had a conflicted tone. “Too childish and shallow for adults, yet too brutal and gory for kids, this is one Damsel that really does need saving, after all,” they wrote in a two-star review. Meanwhile, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland was especially cutting, grading the Netflix movie a C+ and said, “Of course women can slay dragons, but can we get another pass on the script before they head out to do battle?”

There have been some slightly more positive reviews, with the majority of them praising the performance of Millie Bobby Brown. Lovia Gyarkye of The Hollywood Reporter said, “Brown brings the same energy here as to her role in the Enola Holmes series.” which is definitely a compliment as the 2020 detective-mystery movie and its 2022 sequel are very well-liked.

“Damsel” appears to be yet another Netflix movie where the critics and viewers don’t see eye to eye. While its critics score on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty poor, it’s managed a much more respectable 72% audience rating from more than 1,000 total reviews. This suggests that Netflix subscribers are enjoying “Damsel” quite a bit more than critics. 

Should you stream ‘Damsel’ on Netflix? 

“Damsel” probably isn’t going to be topping any best Netflix movies lists anytime soon. The basic premise is compelling, but the story has a few issues and the special effects aren’t up to the same quality you’d expect from a theatrical blockbuster. However, Millie Bobby Brown fans will still want to give this Netflix original a watch, as the actress is at her very best, and that's a compelling reason to give it a chance. 

“Damsel” isn’t a total skip, but it’s far from the most essential Netflix watch. You might still want to add it to your watchlist, but it probably doesn’t deserve to be right at the very front of your Netflix queue. But if you’re looking for something of the highest quality to stream this week might I suggest catching up on some of this year's Oscar winners that you missed instead. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.