MRR Review: "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box"

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Mariah Mundi has no choice but to unite with the enigmatic Will Charity when his family are kidnapped by an unknown enemy. Their adventure leads them to the mysterious and majestic Prince Regent, a huge steam-powered hotel on a small island at the furthest reach of the Empire. Mariah, with the help of Charity must unravel the secrets of the island to find the truth behind the disappearance of his family, and prevent Otto Luger from getting his hands on the mystical and powerful Midas Box.
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Rating: PG
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: December 5, 2013
Directed by: Jonathan Newman
Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy

"The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box" tells the fantastic tale of a 17-year-old boy called Mariah Mundi who sets off on an adventure when he finds his parents missing and his brother kidnapped. It was originally called "Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box" when initially released in the United Kingdom in 2012. During the course of the movie, Mundi encounters everything from fiendish monsters that steal children to a long lost artifact that grants to its possessor unlimited wealth.

The title role of Mariah Mundi was played with precision by Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard. Barnard brings both stage and theater credits to his performance in "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box." The son of a factory worker and a coal miner in a rather hardscrabble community, arguably Barnard's boyhood served to prep him on some level for this role in which he faces extreme challenges after his parents vanish.

As a family film, viewers of all ages are sure to appreciate the presentation. Older viewers are likely to respond to the heroic Mundi quite like they rooted for the heroes in matinee action adventures. Younger moviegoers, particularly those familiar with the novel on which the film is based, feel a sense of kinship with the young leading character.

Mundi's primary nemesis is Otto Luger, played by American film star Sam Neill. Throughout the film, Luger is intent on snatching the Midas Box from Mundi and is willing to stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. A moviegoer who appreciates the fantasy genre finds Neill a familiar face, starring in other such movies throughout his 40-year career. He gleaned international attention for his work in "Jurassic Park" and a reputation for villainy through his role as Cardinal Woosley in the highly regarded Showtime television series "The Tudors."

Neill does not disappoint in "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box." His portrayal of Otto Luger is simmering in its sinister nature. Cold and calculating, Neill is riveting in his pursuit of the Midas Box.

Highly acclaimed British actor Michael Sheen stars as Captain Will Charity. Sheen is building an extensive resume for his character portrayals, including positive notices for his work in this movie. He initially garnered acclaim for his portrayal of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the BBC film "The Deal," a role he reprises in the award-winning feature film "The Queen." He received critical acclaim for his performance as David Frost in Frost-Nixon.

Sheen as Captain Will Charity becomes Mundi's steady cohort in the adventures and challenges presented in the quest of finding out what happened to the younger man's parents and regaining his brother from the kidnappers. The two actors play off of one another well, adding a dash of comedy amidst the suspenseful nature of their mutual journey.

Bermuda-born British actor Lena Headey plays Monica, the female lead in the film. Headey has enjoyed a long career without becoming tabloid fodder, gathering good reviews with such films as "Remains of the Day" and "Waterland." Although this movie focuses more heavily on the male leads, Headey puts in a solid performance as Monica, staying true to the character presented in the novel.

The film is based on the novel "Mariah Mundi" by G. P. Taylor. Screenplay credits go to Christian Taylor and Matthew Huffman, who did a satisfactory job of transitioning the widely read fantasy tome to the big screen. There are other books in the series, and the plan is to convert them into future films in an ongoing franchise.

The film was directed by Jonathan Newman, who did a masterful job of staying true to the original tale as told by G. P. Taylor. A year prior to directing "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box," Newman garnered critical acclaim for his work on "Foster," starring Aussie actor Toni Collette.

As expected, the technical aspects of "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box" embolden the production. With that said, unlike many fantasies, this film is likely to draw crowds not primarily for its special effects but rather for solid acting and a well developed story.

Feature films that are suitable for the entire family are few and far between in this day and age. "The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box" manages to strike a balance that includes elements that snare and keep the attention of people of all ages. Most importantly, the film tells a tale, through its plot and themes, that resonates with adults and younger moviegoers alike.

Rating: 3 out of 5