Norwegian adventures with The Ash Lad

Summer fantasy flick

ASH LADJohn Smistad
Olympia, Wash.

Movie review: The Ash Lad: In Search of the Golden Castle (2019): fantasy adventure fable for the family

Synopsis: When the king and queen of Norway are poisoned, brothers Per and Pål are arrested as suspects. Younger brother Espen, “The Ash Lad,” and Princess Kristin set out on a quest to find the mythical Soria Moria Castle, which legend has it is built of pure gold and contains the “water of life,” which can cure Kristin’s parents. If the intrepid pair fail in their daunting mission, it spells doom for the brothers, the kingdom, and perhaps even the entire world.

The Ash Lad: In Search of the Golden Castle is a kids’ fantasy adventure epic that knows how to have fun with itself.

From a wisecracking monarch to a gang leader with a sardonic sense of silly, director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose has fashioned a film aimed at the young ones yet not devoid of entertainment for those forever young at heart.

King Erik and Queen Victoria are taken down by poisoning. Who would do such a thing to the beloved royal couple?  Farmer siblings Per and Pål are fingered as the fall guys. Younger bro, Espen, and the beautiful Princess Kristin soon set out on a journey jam-packed with peril and manifesting all manner of beast and bedevilment in search of Soria Moria Castle.

When, or much more likely, if, they reach their mysterious destination, there they will scoop up the magical “water of life” and haul it home to bring Kristin’s folks back in the ballgame.

Aleksander Kirkwood Brown and Espen Enger have co-written a story here that flows freely with charm, thrills, chills, and a healthy smattering of knowing in-jokes for good measure. It seems all outside of his family are helpless when struggling to pronounce our young hero’s tricky tongue-twisting sobriquet “Espen Ash Lad” (Even Hashley and Esken Ashpot are among the feeble stabs at it).

Sidse Babett Knudsen is a hoot as the unscrupulous power-drunk Danish gang leader Ohllmann, who sneeringly refers to the country she and her goons intend to conquer as “Little Norway.” (Oh, don’t ya just know her comeuppance is comin’?)

All in all, a fine and frolicsome time can be found by all in this fun and funny fable.  And isn’t that “golden” to learn when in search of suitable family entertainment?

The Ash Lad: In Search of the Golden Castle is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at