The Love Story In Hallmark's A Royal Christmas Crush Is As Flimsy As Its Melting Ice Castles

Hallmark Christmas films have a standard formula that they use to great effect. The network targets audiences who want a feel-good film and its Christmas in July films help feed that need. But its latest release, "A Royal Christmas Crush," fails to deliver on this, as it takes a by-the-numbers approach to a faltering extreme. The movie is replete with missed opportunities and what should have been the most important plot point — and driving force of the story — is relegated to the last third of the film.

The story is basic: Uncle Karl (Charlie Ebbs) is designing an ice castle for a royal family from a generic Nordic country. He calls his architectural genius niece, Ava Jensen (Katie Cassidy), for help, so she travels to the country to lend her expertise. Ava had a mysterious past relationship that soured her on romance, but as she assesses what needs to be done, she becomes smitten with Prince Henry (Stephen Huszar). The prince recently exited a failed relationship, and his parents and their assistants are hard at work to find him a new woman to be his potential bride, pushing him together with a bland lady named Sigrut (Kathryn Kohut). As the chemistry between Ava and Prince Henry starts to heat up, his family works to drive them apart by tipping off the news media to her past scandal. Can the two overcome this obstacle and find true romance?

Well, of course. This is a Hallmark movie after all.

Ava's ice castle is pretty, but not practical

Katie Cassidy, who became a fan-favorite playing Laurel Lance/Black Canary on the CW series "Arrow," delivers an adequate, yet tepid performance. And Stephen Huszar, who's been in a few Christmas movies as well as the beloved shows "The Flash," "Supernatural," and "Fringe," is believable as a prince who's disenchanted with having his life handed to him. (Heck, the guy is so used to having servants do everything that he can't even open a wine bottle! Seriously?) The film tries to convey that, deep down, Ava dreams of creating affordable housing for low-income families, but that minor subplot is really only adequately addressed at the very end of the movie.

And the ice castle (a character in its own right) that's *mostly* made and livable looks great from a design standpoint, but it's beyond impractical. It's full of bedrooms, a bar, and a large hall where the royal family's Christmas ball is to be held. But sleeping on a bed made of ice, or sitting on an ice bench, can't be all that cozy or comfortable. Ava and Henry even have to wear winter coats while eating breakfast! And several rooms have indoor fireplaces at their center, the heat from which would most likely cause the whole building to melt. Honestly, with this in mind, we're just glad Hallmark keeps its movies PG, or else we'd have to worry about Ava and Henry literally bringing the house down with their love affair (wink wink).

But, more importantly, there's no imperative for the characters — nothing for them to strive for so the audience can root for them — and that's truly its most glaring issue.

Ava's 'scandal' gets swept under the rug

Hallmark fans enjoyed the film "A Royal Christmas on Ice" because said prince helped the main character save her beloved ice rink from a developer. Here, the fact that Ava's ex-fiancé went to prison for bilking investors out of millions of dollars isn't introduced until nearly the end. Royal assistants Deputy Von Trier (Glenn Edward Gyorffy) and Brigitta (Angela Besharah) discover this fact and release the information to a local news outlet hoping the scandal will keep the "unrefined" Ava away from Henry. This should have been the primary plot of the film.

Once word gets out that Ava may potentially be scamming the prince for his money, it's only a matter of minutes before information that she knew nothing about her former fiancé's activities when they happened is obtained, and all is forgiven. The plot should have revolved around the fact that Ava and the prince were both soured on relationships, not realizing they had feelings for each other. Then her past comes out, and all heck breaks loose as they try to resolve the issue and prove she's on the level. Such a missed opportunity and it's really a shame. Hallmark had the chance to pack a punch and infuse the entire story with some mystery, but it slept on the scandal that could've made this movie stand out.

Ava and Prince Henry definitely have chemistry — so much so that the real-life actors, Katie Cassidy and Stephen Huszar, fell in love during the making of the movie. Thus, while Hallmark might not have delivered the movie fans wanted, its stars came through with a happy ending said fans deserved.