A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is based on the British young-adult fantasy series Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box. This period adventure follows the 17-year-old son of antiquities experts whose parents and then little brother are kidnapped. There's more violence than you'd expect from family fare and it includes dark and tense scenes of people being shot at, nearly choked, gagged and bound, enslaved, and left to drown and die. Because of the violence, this movie is definitely more for older tweens and up than younger kids. There's also some smoking and drinking and light romance that's tolerable for the intended audience.
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What's the story?
THE ADVENTURER: THE CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX is based on the first book in British author G.P. Taylor's Mariah Mundi series. Set in Victorian England, the story follows 17-year-old Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard), the older son of antiquities experts. When his parents and later his younger brother are kidnapped, a mysterious friend of the family named Captain Charity (Michael Sheen) reveals that the nefarious supervillain Otto Luger (Sam Neill) is responsible, because he's looking for a pair of amulets that open a Midas Box -- a nearly supernatural box from ancient Egypt that can turn anything placed inside into gold. Charity sends Mariah to the Prince Regent hotel on a remote island. Since Luger owns the hotel, young Mariah is supposed to work as a porter while actually spying in order to find his brother -- or the Midas Box -- before Luger has his family killed.
Is it any good?
It's a shame that the movie's plot is overly packed with intrigue and detail that will make it difficult for even adult audiences to follow. Director Jonathan Newman scored a terrific cast for what had the potential to be a really fascinating combination of The Mummy and Harry Potter -- with handsome Mariah (looking like a younger, taller Elijah Wood) coming into his own as a teen Indiana Jones type. Despite the presence of excellent actors like Sam Neill and Michael Sheen -- who seem up for absolutely any kind of film, regardless of genre -- the story doesn't quite gel until the very end, at which point the weighed-down plot has made the film seem an hour longer than it's 98 minutes.
But there's something to be said for a movie that makes kids think more and pay strict attention. Older tweens and young teens who can handle the darker scenes of violence and the topsy turvy plot lines may appreciate that although it's not the zippiest adventure, it's not a complete misfire. And while it's doubtful there should be a sequel, at least viewers may be inspired to read the source book, visit a museum, or learn more about ancient artifacts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is the movie's violence more intense than you'd expect from a family-friendly adventure?
Those who've read the book: How does the movie compare? Why do you think the filmmakers changed aspects of the story?
How does the end of the movie set up a sequel? Would you like to see Mariah's next adventure?
- In theaters: January 10, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 11, 2014
- Cast: Aneurin Barnard, Michael Sheen, Sam Neill
- Director: Jonathan Newman
- Studio: RLJ Entertainment
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: adventure action and violence, some peril and brief smoking
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